Demolition Answering the Questions of Tomorrow What does the future have in store for the plant sector, and what might its role be in an everchanging construction industry? Tim Ballard, Finning Business Transformation General Manager, shares his insight. Will we have fully autonomous equipment? Will highly-trained operators sit in site accommodation or offices remotely operating plant? Will site operatives wear digging suits and become walking machines? Will we hit the print button for that replacement part? Will deep learning and AI transform our supply chain? Will big data surface new insight into how we operate? Will 24/7 working be just that?
therefore new ways of working. Some of the key issues impacting this may be the tight margins in the construction industry, which restrict spending on innovation and reduce the appetite for any perceived additional risk. The sector is also challenged daily to effectively manage the health, safety and welfare of those who work in it. Couple these elements together with an aging workforce, increasing skills shortage and a difficulty in attracting people into the sector and we have a great deal of challenges to overcome to move the industry forward. This is of particular relevance as we now clearly understand that with a more diverse and inclusive workforce innovation and ideation is enriched and delivers far better results due to different perspectives and thinking.
These are all big questions that decades ago would have been laughed at as pipe dreams or science fiction. Will these things happen? They might, but what we visualise today might not actually answer the demands for the future, so we should be much more open to new ideas and be agile enough to deliver the change needed to make these ideas a reality. But one thing is certain, there will and has to be a step change in the cohesion of the plant sector with the wider construction industry it currently serves, but should be a much more integrated part of.
An Exciting Future
This is why the future is so exciting and why the industry needs to look more broadly for perspective. At Finning we have recognised that this is not just a UK and Ireland opportunity, but a global opportunity. This is why in 2016 Finning Digital was created; a separate business with an agile start-up mentality, aimed at opening up new possibilities for innovation, whilst exposing the organisation to different technology partners, approaches, collaboration and insight.
Progress has already been made towards this new relationship, as the plant sector has seen its position as a supplier of operated equipment losing its relevance. This is particularly the case on larger projects, as main contractors increasingly seek much more integrated and technology driven solutions to deliver their earthworks.
This approach has already seen the roll-out of drone services in partnership with Airware Redbird; a slicker data intelligence approach; improved connect assets; and other technologies to follow.
But there is much more to do and the one thing the whole industry needs to focus on is how to speed up innovation, the adoption of new solutions, and
Published on Dec 20, 2017