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How IoT and Connected Tools Are Helping Accelerate Construction Jobsite Productivity

Burcin Kaplanoglu, executive director, innovation officer for Oracle Construction and Engineering, recently spoke with Bosch about how their company is helping drive digital transformation in the ever-evolving and dynamic E&C landscape.

As an Oracle Construction and Engineering Innovation Lab technology partner, Bosch has made significant contributions to the ideation and development of the lab.

Bosch Power Tools leaders Sonesh Shah, vice president, digital and brand marketing, and Eli Share, IoT and mobile lead, discussed existing technology challenges and opportunities on the jobsite with Burcin.

BK: From your perspective, what are some of the key challenges facing organizations in E&C?

SS: These issues are well documented: unrealized productivity, huge labor shortages – plus risks of automation and what that means for companies that don’t adopt technology. All of this is subject to market swings – another reason why productivity is so important.

ES: There’s also a bad perception of the construction industry. People don’t value the industry as much as they used to, so you don’t have people going into the trades.

SS: The labor shortage is a massive challenge for the industry. But then there are also regulatory and safety challenges that are unique market-by-market. These issues play a key role in determining which companies are successful and which companies are trusted.

BK: How are organizational approaches to addressing those challenges changing?

SS: One of the things I’ve seen in these construction companies is the trend to design/build - companies owning the design process, the build process, and in some cases the ownership process. It’s vertical integration.

You see a lot of organizations adopting an innovation officer model. This is a more typical enterprise structure where you have people looking at growth, innovation, and productivity versus the traditional “we need project managers.”

You see a trend toward how technology can solve problems, and companies have structures and organizational capacities to help them do that.

The reason why design/build is important is this: The key to unlocking productivity is big data - architectural data. You see more and more construction companies with BIM managers and a vice president of BIM. They position data as a core value versus an IT component.

ES: Organizations are also trying to put themselves into a place where they control the communications and stakeholder flow.

Whether it’s a public-private partnership or design/bid/build configuration, they can orchestrate how that whole flow will work so that they control the narrative of that building. They’re trying to bring consistency to complex structures.

Every organization does it differently, whether through process or technology or alternate business strategies.

BK: How is connected IoT enabling change?

SS: It’s forcing companies to rethink traditional processes. That’s the change element. I don’t know if anyone has found the magic pill in IoT or connectivity, at least in terms of a large-scale approach.

But everyone sees the opportunity and is reorganizing around what’s bringing it to life. And that’s what is creating such a positive buzz in the space.

It’s not hard to see what the vision could be. The requirement is that everyone needs to make massive changes to realize it.

ES: In the industry you can see that companies are starting to think about what competencies they need on their teams. It used to be very clear how you staff a construction company.

But now with these IoT opportunities – opportunities that can drive productivity and value – there’s a need to figure out how to manage it. And who manages that, and how do they manage it?

That’s where it’s starting to enable the change. The industry sees what this could be, but the organizations themselves are trying to understand how to integrate it and adopt it.

SS: So much of the technology piece for any company-- especially those in the construction industry-- is about building processes, organizations, and approaches to leverage the technology that’s available.

For many years the technology available was physical and iterative. We’re talking about a physical innovation that can do work a little faster, push a little bit more productivity.

And now when you talk about digital technology, or how those physical things create some level of useable data, it requires a major shift in mindset, competency, and process.

BK: What’s the role of connected power tools and accessories?

SS: I always say that our job, as we look at connected tools and asset management, is to create data where there was none before. We’re creating new data.

We’re one part of that ecosystem; every physical asset on the jobsite could create new data.

How we interpret that data, how we leverage that data, how we repurpose that data – that’s the big question mark. But we have many use cases about how connected tools and connected assets do change the way users work and how productivity increases.

We have a big story here, but the bigger story is how that entire ecosystem comes together.

ES: Connected tools represents one puzzle piece of the greater picture of the jobsite, but it’s a needed piece. If you don’t have it, you can’t accomplish the work you really need to do.

Explore innovation in action at the Oracle Construction and Engineering Innovation Lab, a simulated worksite with integrated technologies.

Discover how Oracle Construction and Engineering is helping power project success for asset-intensive industries.

Check out more innovative ideas emerging in construction and engineering in our “Navigating the Future of Projects” report from Oracle Industry Connect.

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