Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ICT in Construction

‘This is a sharing space and Networking forum for peoples who keen and interest to discuss and discourse topics and knowledge of leveraging construction using IT. The growth of IT application of Cyber-world synonymous with the globalization seeking construction players to be innovative explore or develop new approach to simplify the processes and tools for construction activities.’

Quoting Mansor’s word on the purpose of this blog, I’ve would like to share some info on how important this ICT in construction industry and what makes it very important?..

There are numerous weaknesses in the construction industry delivery system which often result in excessive cost overrun and quality deficiency in the final output, the construction industry stakeholders have agreed that a long-term construction industry development plan is needed. Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), in conjunction with the Works Ministry, the relevant government departments and agencies, industry-players and organisations representing industry stakeholders, have sat together and collectively addressed the issues and successfully developed the first Construction Industry Master Plan (CIMP). It is hoped that we shall together be able to mould our construction industry into a world-class, innovative and knowledgeable solution provider.

In order to ensure that these moulds can be used widely in our construction industry, ICT is the vital player. It is the mechanism that promotes knowledge sharing among its diverse industry players. To set up a knowledge database for the construction industry would require a huge amount of resources especially in the application of information and communication technology or ICT. The construction sector is also not making full use of the potential of collaborative systems for information sharing and coordination with external partners while construction companies do not take advantage of ICT solutions for digital information exchange and sharing documents on-line. As for example, E-Procurement has not matured in the construction sector at this point and will take longer do be developed than originally anticipated.
The same also applies to the area of materials procurement. The Customer Relationship Management is not supported to any considerable extent by ICT systems. Online sales and marketing activities are not widespread and surprisingly few construction companies have a website. Because of the characteristics of construction services, ecommerce might be of limited relevance to many construction enterprises. Earlier this year, Economic Planning Unit published a two-year research effort on "IT Strategy
Plan for the Construction Sector".

The study led by SIRIM, formulated a strategic plan for the holistic adoption of ICT to enhance productivity and competitiveness of the sector. The study encompasses the sector's supply chain partners and current IT usage in the sector, the landscape of which is similar to the state of affairs described earlier.
The Construction Industry Master Plan, which is heavily promoting the standardisation and integration of administrative practices and procedures in the local authorities had relied almost entirely on intelligent application of ICT to achieve its objectives.

The digitalisation of planning submission and building plan approval process, the online submission by consultants and provision of common digital links between the local authorities and the respective technical agencies all require substantial investment and careful planning on usage of ICT.

The National E-tendering Initiatives (NeTI) which allow all works tenders to be advertised, submitted, evaluated and subsequently awarded through online processes will require minimal human intervention in the major parts of government project procurement procedure . The construction industry portal, the specification of which is being drafted by CIDB will provide one-stop centre for intelligent information gathering and dissemination. Construction players along the supply chain will benefit from its endless repository of information, including best practices in construction from all over the world. The portal, which also serves as an online education tool is primarily aimed at educating the end users and consumers and empowering them to benefit from their construction investment.

Other than that, ICT can assist to enhance productivity and efficiency of the construction industry players in other ways. Use of 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) during design and the use of the Internet to improve team productivity is a clear area for improvement. It is now possible to link everyone involved in a project, the owner, contractor, consultant and even material supplier to all of the information required for a project.

The architects, for instance, can start by creating an intelligent 3D CAD models that can be viewed and shared with the rest of the design team members.
Working from the same base model, the engineers can rapidly develop their respective engineering and detail designs allowing the quantity surveyors to quickly quantify preliminary cost estimates of the project.

When these CAD capabilities are well exploited, owners will find that very significant savings in costs and time can be achieved. And best of all, whatever designs, drawings and other documents created during project design stage will more accurately reflect "as-built" conditions so that they can be used for facility management functions after the project is completed.

But, there are some sat backs for the ICT capabilities in enhancing the construction industry such as not enough infrastructure fro the usage of ICT itself as well as few specialist in particular department with regards to ICT infrastructure and hardware. My case for example, in our office, we have the ICT assistance through CAD, which is our design softwares to be specific and have been used for quite along time. Gratefully being, we’ve given the opportunity to upgrade our PC, but unfortunately, the specifications of the new PC don’t comply with our design softwares. In addition to that, we cannot downgrade our PC’s specification due to its warranty issues. This is when; ICT sometimes can be a burden to us, stakeholders in construction industry. But, steps need to be taken in order to ensure ICT can be fully utilized and improve the efficiency of construction industry.

As for example, engaging qualified ICT specialists and expert on short - term basis could prove invaluable and so is getting external assistance to provide the necessary support in specifying the benefits of different ICT solutions, selecting the right mix of application and implementing ICT projects.

Similarly, the government could encourage ICT adoption by promoting ICT skill and competencies in the construction sector via national initiatives, something CIDB is pursuing, albeit on a limited scale. And as a last resort perhaps, the government can collaborate with the industry to create some kind of push factors to get the industry players to adopt ICT. It could be in the form of incentives or even a "coerced adoption" perhaps.


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