Construction Industry Supply Chain Builds Efficiency with Digital Tools
September 12, 2021 by GE Hewar
For some, digital transformation in the construction industry is about innovations like 3D printing, building information modeling, and project management software. But it’s also about shrinking the cost and carbon footprint of building materials and other construction inputs.
That’s because digital transformation is improving many elements of the construction supply chain – from makers of everything from raw materials to construction vehicles – to become more competitive.
Given the conditions facing developers and EPC contractors in areas such as tendering pressures, high material costs, and labor shortages, alongside regulatory mandates and customer demands for a more sustainable built environment, there is enormous opportunity to leverage digital solutions to drive the efficiency and quality of construction inputs.
The role of digital technology in the construction sector is one of the trends being highlighted at this year’s The Big 5: International Building & Construction Show taking place this week in Dubai.
GE Digital has a track record of helping manufacturers transform their production processes, including customers in fields as diverse as cement, paint, metals, plywood and OSB (oriented strand board), trusses and joists, plastics, plumbing and electrical products, pre-fabricated houses, and heavy construction machinery and equipment.
Examples include a leading engineered wood products company that wanted to modernize its operations, given various issues such as how to connect older equipment, optimize track and trace, and boost quality and throughput.
GE Digital helped the company install manufacturing execution systems (MES) and HMI/SCADA solutions at more than 15 plants. Results included quality improvements to their wood products and higher throughput.
For a major paint manufacturer that wanted to modernize one of its production plants, GE Digital deployed its HMI/SCADA and batch execution software. As a result, this fully automated plant now manufactures as much product as a facility with five times the workforce. The solution also reduces waste, increases product quality, boosts efficiency, minimizes human error, and maximizes the plant’s flexibility in a multi-product, multi-batch environment.
A third example comes from a global leader in the insulation industry that deployed GE Digital’s Proficy CSense industrial analytics software to improve asset and process performance.
The solution, which created a process digital twin of the plant, leveraged AI and machine learning to empower process engineers to combine data across multiple sources to rapidly identify problems, discover root causes, predict future performance, and automate actions to continuously improve quality, utilization, productivity, and delivery of operations.
This digital twin also made it possible to conduct virtual training for the facility by simulating the actual plant operations.
These digital solutions provide significant opportunities for those supplying the construction industry to not only reduce costs, improve quality and efficiency, and make operations more nimble, they also can reduce the environmental impact of their operations, thereby creating additional competitive advantages during this dynamic period for the sector.