What progress can we expect in the digitization of the construction industry in 2023?
In my opinion, we are now in the years of artificial intelligence (AI). The big progress is the better analysis of all the business data collected over the years. Now we will be able to further use it in a more targeted and comprehensive way. Artificial intelligence helps us interpret the data sets so we can plan and build even more economically.
Can you give an example?
We are working on many joint projects in Germany with Professor Michael Eisfeld from Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, who is already gaining experience here. With the help of artificial intelligence, but also already with advanced analytics and lots of data, the use of materials in construction projects can be optimized. The more data available here, the better the result. What matters here is the quality of the data – in other words, are all product properties, certifications, etc. stored?
For which topic is AI in construction becoming particularly important right now?
In the area of sustainability: Customers are asking about the certifications of our building materials. Advanced Analytics (AA) help enormously here. It has never been easier to see directly from the data in the model how much CO2 and water was used in production. In this way, the CO2 footprint of the entire building can be calculated at the simple click. Artificial intelligence will further simplify a lot of things here and make them more efficient.
A third point is often underestimated with AA or AI: It can help put internal processes, warehousing, and business models to the test. Where are sales particularly efficient and what does that mean for the entire group? Such an analysis helps you establish relationships that you can't make in your head or by hand.
Which countries are particularly driving digitization in construction?
I see the greatest potential in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Scandinavian countries, i.e., Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. This is due to the size of the respective market and the fact that digital planning and construction has already been taking place here for years. This means that these countries already have an enormous amount of project data available, which the AI can use to continue learning.
At the same time, the market there is not so fragmented. By comparison, in Germany you have almost as many architects as in the entire rest of Europe. The German market is a very fragmented one, so you will always find people who are not interested or simply do not have the size to invest here.
The Baltic States are also catching up strongly, and the building application process in Estonia, for example, can also be digital - in Germany, there have already been initial pilot projects in Dortmund together with the Ruhr University in Bochum.
How important is the political framework?
I expect that the BIM obligation for public buildings, which was introduced at the end of 2022, will set things in motion here.