Emerging trend of construction sector

May 27, 2024 23:17

From 2020 to 2060, the world is expected to add about 2.6 trillion square feet (241 billion square meters) of floor area, equivalent to an entire New York City, to the world every month for 40 years. Meanwhile, the global construction market reached US$14 trillion or 14.2% of global gross domestic product (GDP).

In Hong Kong, the industry value added by the construction industry was HK$121.8 billion in 2022, contributing 4.3% to GDP. However, Hong Kong's construction costs are among the highest in the world. According to the assessment of consulting firm McKinsey, the cost of construction in Hong Kong is US$36 per sqm, which is more expensive than that of San Francisco (US$33) in the United States, and much higher than Singapore (US$22) and Shanghai (US$19), even though the labour wages are similar in these places.

The consultant expects productivity and cost issues in the industry to continue worsening over the coming decade. At the same time, during their entire life cycle, buildings generate 42% of the world's annual carbon emissions. All these make the digital transformation of the local construction industry a pressing issue.

As a result, in recent years, digital twins have become a powerful tool for local industry pioneers to monitor and even predict the progress of construction projects. When coupled with the real-time display of sensor data in the geographic information system (GIS) dashboard and combined with multiple information, such as drone imagery, it enables the managing staff to respond in a timely manner. With the rise of modular integrated construction (MiC), planners can not only use this software to "see" the installation sequence and live conditions, but also can achieve just-in-time delivery, making the construction process seamless.

When creating digital twins, construction professionals always integrate advanced GIS technology into building information modelling (BIM) software. GIS and BIM complement each other perfectly, taking care of everything from material delivery routes, environmental impacts to weather patterns, allowing managers to plan more effectively, reduce waste and injuries, save costs and drive emissions reductions.

In the local architecture, engineering and construction sector, Gammon is a pioneer of digital twins.

Slated to be completed in 2025, Gammon has developed an original GTwin solution for the 1,450-seat Lyric Theatre Complex in the West Kowloon Cultural District, which uses a three-dimensional (3D) digital twin model to enhance site safety and operations management. In addition, the company also produces 4D models that simulate the construction process to optimise and refine the construction methods. Aerial photography, laser scanning and 3D photographs were used to capture construction data to ensure that the project was carried out as designed, demonstrating a significant step towards digital transformation, enhancing safety standards, ensuring superior quality, and improving productivity.

With such a strong performance, it is no wonder that last year the company was the only recipient in Hong Kong to win Esri's annual Special Achievement in GIS Award.

Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering; Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences; and Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong