HK startup wants construction industry to go digital

October 08, 2019 14:23
Spatial Technology's general manager Andy Cheung (right) and Ronald Wong, Lenovo Hong Kong and Macau general manager. The two companies have partnered to promote digital construction for the local industry. Photo: HKEJ

Internet-powered technology is shaking things up in traditional industries. Hong Kong startups GoGoVan and Lalamove, for example, have brought digital solutions to the logistics business.

In the construction and engineering sector, Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Andy Cheung, general manager of Spatial Technology, has partnered with PC and hardware maker Lenovo to bring Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions, which allow design and construction teams to communicate and coordinate with each other across different levels.

“According to a survey, the construction industry, among other major industries, has a lower degree of IT application, and it is ranked above the agriculture and fisheries industry only. I believe it’s the same case in Hong Kong,” said Cheung.

In construction and civil engineering projects, building plans and drawings are put on paper. As design modifications and revisions are made, confusion and chaos can easily enter the process.

The BIM solution, according to Cheung, allows the design and construction teams to create a 3D model that shows detailed information about the project such as dimensions, construction materials, and planning procedures.

It also provides involved parties with communication and collaboration features to share and manage various building plans and electronic forms on the same platform.

With the 3D modeling and computer software, the BIM solution can significantly boost efficiency and reduce wastage resulting from the on-site modification of a design, said Cheung.

His company, Spatial Technology, focuses on providing BIM solutions to construction and engineering companies, while also offering software and digital solutions in project cycle management and construction site operations for contractors.

It has also partnered with Lenovo to launch the Digital Construction InnoTech Center in June, to provide consulting services to clients and BIM training sessions conducted by practitioners, helping clients in BIM implementation and integration.

“We are offering an end-to-end solution for the industry. Under the collaboration, Lenovo provides the hardware support, such as our ThinkStation P Series workstations, while Spatial Technology plays a bridging role for the industry and provides software solutions,” said Lenovo Hong Kong and Macau general manager Ronald Wong.

He said Lenovo’s hardware ensures the smooth and reliable operation of the BIM software so companies can optimize the results.

One of the major challenges in introducing new technology to the construction industry, according to Cheung, is the lack of mutual understanding between the IT solution providers and the industry practitioner. As a result, the solution fails to meet market demand.

Spatial Technology’s partnership with Lenovo, which combines the IT solutions and the industry network and practical knowledge, can address that challenge, he said.

Cheung admits that there has been a general resistance to new technology solutions from industry practitioners. “Subcontractors in the local industry find it hard to deploy BIM solutions, as their workers, in general, have lower internet and computer knowledge,” he said.

For now, the workers who have completed the BIM training and mastered the application, account for only about 10 percent of the relevant workforce.

He said it may take three to five years for the digital transformation of Hong Kong’s construction and engineering industry to mature.

But he believes that the BIM solution, along with the digital construction practice, is the megatrend and future of the industry.

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Spatial Technology general manager Andy Cheung (second from left), and Ronald Wong (second from right), Lenovo Hong Kong and Macau general manager, inaugurated the digital construction training center in June. Photo: Lenovo

EJ Insight writer