Category: Construction

2021 in Review: Europe and the Middle East’s Year in Construction

As the end of 2021 fast approaches, we have begun to look back on another challenging – but exciting – 12 months in construction. 

At the end of the most disruptive year on record – 2020- we knew there would be challenges and changes ahead. The lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continued to make its mark on the world over, but the news and rollout of vaccination programmes brought us much needed hope. And with the continuing impacts of Brexit, climate change and skills and labour shortages, there is no doubt that construction firms were keeping their resiliency plans firmly at the front of their minds.

However, it’s safe to say that we again couldn’t have predicted the long-term impact of Covid-19 on our sector with further lockdowns across much of Europe as we entered 2021 which not only halted productivity and project progress but also contributed to a global materials shortages.

As ever, many businesses, technology has remained mission-critical but the way in which companies are adopting to this is bringing back some clear competitive differences across the market.  We’ve brought together experts from our Autodesk Construction Solutions (ACS) team in Europe and the Middle East to share their thoughts on the year we’ve had and what we’ve learned.


Digital plans evolving from survival mode to long-term business strategies

For many construction companies in 2020, digital ways of working were forced upon them to keep afloat. Investment in solutions to keep operations moving in such uncertainty become a necessity and companies with long-term digital strategies were able to keep focused and in places, accelerate their goals.

District Manager for DACH, France and Spain Marvin Theissen reflects; “A Common data environment is always key in effective collaboration when it comes to remote working, and many companies recognised this in 2021. Despite this, 2021 also demonstrated that layering product and solutions on top of each other without a clear strategy can lead to systems fatigue for end-users.”

But as Nordics District Manager Nicholas Klokholm explains, “Companies are becoming more sophisticated in their needs and their employees expect this. Project teams want to work more holistically rather than using point solutions, and this will enable them to capture and use their data for better insights.”


New ways of working creating competitive advantages

When it comes to the marketplace, owners and main contractors also expect to experience a more streamlined digital experience when it comes to viewing and collaborating on their projects. Data that is captured in one place and used to provide richer insights can help decision-makers on projects.

Sander Lijbers, District Manager at Autodesk for Benelux says, “2021 was the year for refining and improving the use of technology. Companies that did this and could demonstrate it had a competitive edge when it came to bidding for work in our industry. Having a central source of truth shows project owners that risk and uncertainty are being addressed and reduced which is some of their biggest concerns.”


Shortages in materials and labour leading to skills in demand

The materials shortages that plagued the industry for much of 2021 is unfortunately here to stay. As cost of materials skyrocket and delays seep into schedules, a focus on skills in the industry  emerged. For Europe, the major effects of Brexit are starting to impact the labour market. Demand for construction workers across the UK steadily increased throughout 2021 as migration over Europe changed in light of new Brexit legislation.

According to Account Executive for UK & Ireland Brian Roche, the demand on skills led to project pressures and more competition within the market. “Employees expect to work more flexibly in line with other industries. The rise of remote working in 2020 showed us that collaboration can continue regardless of your geographical location with the right tools to support you, and this will be a decision-making factor as skilled workers look for roles within the industry.” Firms working with paper-based and manual processes run the risk of being left behind when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

Senior Customer Success Manager in the Middle East, Mohammad Abou Assali recognises that now more than ever, the workforce is looking closely at the mission and values of companies ensuring they align to their own. “In both 2020 and 2021, key issues in the world really came to the forefront. And the time to respond and make change is now. The construction workforce is increasingly aware of their own priorities and want to see more from the industry when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint, so companies need to show their own commitment and advancements towards changing for the better. If they don’t, they risk losing out.”


People remain at the heart of the construction industry

Despite great progress in digitising and modernising the construction industry for the better, people will forever remain at the heart of the industry. Regardless of the technology being deployed or workflows established, people and their experience must be placed at the centre of any change. As District Manager Nicholas Klokholm says, “Change is difficult, and it doesn’t just happen. Data needs to be the enabler for all that we do in this industry and it is the driver for change.” For Sander Lijbers, District Manager for Benelux, 2021 was the year for preparing for the future; “Getting your own organisation in order was a key priority in 2021 and if you didn’t do that then 2022 is the time to do it – this way you’ll be ready for what is to come next.”

The post 2021 in Review: Europe and the Middle East’s Year in Construction appeared first on Digital Builder.

A Simple Clear Construction Staffing Distress Indicator

Well before the pandemic, the construction sector was worrying over what was perceived as an acute shortage of labor. Much of the discussion on this topic over the past several years has been anecdotal. Or reference has been made to employment gains that have been less than they should be and unemployment rates that have sometimes turned spectacularly low.

But it would be better to find some easy-to-understand visual representation of the problem. It’s my hope that Graphs 1 through 5 below, making use of JOLTS data, fit the bill.

From the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), for ‘all jobs’ and 14 major sub-sectors, I’ve taken ‘openings’ levels and ‘hires’ levels and calculated openings-to-hires ratios for every month back to July 2009, which was the first period of recovery after the ‘fiscal crisis’ recession (a.k.a., the Great Recession).

The openings-to-hires ratio essentially captures the degree to which vacant positions are being snapped up (a low ratio) or going begging (a high ratio).

To enable easy comparisons between industries, I’ve indexed their openings-to-hires ratios.

The indexing I’ve adopted takes the July 2009 value for each series and sets it equal to 100.0. (The number could just as easily be set equal to 1.0 but choosing 100 leaves more room for following numbers to move not only up, but also down, should that become the case.)

For each series, the value of each subsequent month is divided by the value in the base month (July 2009) and multiplied by 100.

Since all the series have the same starting value (July 2009 = 100.0), when a couple of them, or several of them, are shown on a graph, their movements over time can be readily compared.

In Graphs 1 through 5, I’ve stuck with only one-on-one comparisons.

The higher the curve, the greater the sought-after employee shortage distress.

From Graph 1, it’s apparent that the increase over time, since July 2009, in the openings-to-hires ratio for construction has far outpaced the increase in the openings-to-hires ratio for ‘all jobs’. (The openings-to-hires ratio will increase in an expanding economy.)

By the way, I must point out that the patterns apparent in Graphs 1 to 5 stay essentially the same even when the base period is shifted (e.g., if January 2015 is chosen = 100.0 rather than July 2009).

In Graphs 2 through 5, the worker shortage in construction is shown to be more severe than in the following: manufacturing; retail trade; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; and accommodation and food services.

As for nine of the other ten industrial sectors not set out graphically below, construction’s labor shortage is far more acute than in any of them except one.

The worst labor shortage in the U.S. is currently being experienced in another goods-producing as opposed to the services-producing corner of the economy, ‘mining and logging’.

Our Top 10 Construction Blogs from 2021

As we reflect on the last year, it’s worth a look back at some of Autodesk’s most notable blog posts from 2021. Doing so not only gives us a chance to reflect on the topics that made waves throughout the year, but also provides an indication of what’s in store for the next 12 months.

So, dig in—this roundup features an array of topics and articles. You’ll discover top industry stats, meet AEC’s most innovative leaders, learn about data and cost management tech, and discover innovations in sustainable construction.

Whether you’re new to the blog or a long-time follower of Digital Builder, you’re bound to find something read-worthy below. 

Let’s dive in.

1. 100+ Construction Industry Statistics

Construction facts/stats can be incredibly helpful when you want to identify benchmarks, industry trends, and market opportunities. To help you surface interesting construction data, we’ve compiled a list of 100 statistics that give you a general overview of the state of the AEC industry, particularly in the areas of construction labor, operations, and technology. Needless to say, if you’re looking for a credible source of construction info, this post is one of the best places to start. Read article.

2. 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction 2021

In 2021, we released Autodesk’s annual 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction—a list of construction professionals doing remarkable things in their respective areas (and who happen to be under the age of 40). Sourced from hundreds of nominations from across the globe, this year’s list is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who demonstrated innovation, resilience, and creativity. If you’re looking to get inspired in your construction career and business, this list will certainly do the trick. View list.

3. New Report Reveals Data Strategy is a Key Advantage in Construction

It’s easy to agree that having a data strategy is important in the construction industry. But what exactly does a good data strategy look like? What does it mean? What does it take? To answer this, Autodesk and FMI published the report Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction. This post does an excellent job summarizing the study’s key insights, and it offers advice on how to successfully launch a data strategy. Plus, the article comes with a nifty infographic featuring the report’s notable findings, making the info easy to understand. View report findings.

4. Reusing Our Way to a More Sustainable Future

Reusing things that would otherwise go to waste is proving to be a better alternative to traditional methods of sourcing building materials. Shannon Goodman, Executive Director of Lifecycle Building Center, lends her expert insights on the topic. Lifecycle Building Center is an organization that salvages building materials and directs them back to the community. In this post, Shannon shares some actionable steps on how construction firms can be more sustainable in their building practices. Learn more.

5. Essential Construction KPIs to Improve Profits and Productivity

The line “you can’t improve what you don’t measure” rings very true in the construction industry. Tracking the right KPIs is essential to ensuring that your projects are on track and that you’re meeting your objectives. This article serves as an excellent reference piece for the top KPIs you should be looking at. It lists the must-track metrics in areas like project safety, quality, performance, and employee management. You’ll also get tips on how to adopt, measure, and implement your KPIs successfully. Discover key metrics.

6. Construction Keynote: Autodesk Backs Customers as Solid Technology Partner [AU 2021]

Technology is now a staple both in the field and in the office. As more innovative tools carve their spot in the AEC industry, you need to ensure that you’re leveraging tech correctly. Jim Lynch, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Autodesk Construction Solutions led the Construction Keynote at Autodesk University 2021. This article breaks down the top takeaways. He highlights three ways that Autodesk can help you do just that. You’ll learn how Autodesk is connecting your data and how it streamlines much-needed collaboration. You’ll also learn the difference between a technology partner and a technology provider—and why one is favored over the other. Read key takeaways.

7. 6 Common Causes of Cost Overruns in Construction Projects

This post is actually from 2020, but continues to be a popular read in 2021 as cost control has become a unique challenge these last two years. Pandemic aside, this article’s relevance isn’t surprising considering cost overruns are all too common across construction projects globally. With just a third of projects coming within 10% of the budget, it’s no wonder so many AEC pros are seeking information on how to get costs under control. This post helps you do that by explaining the top 6 reasons that projects go over budget—and how to address them. Learn more.

8. Top 10 Construction Podcasts to Listen to Now

Podcasts have grown in popularity over the past year, and for good reason—they offer a convenient way for listeners to consume information. Whether you want to learn about current events or are looking to listen to interviews with thought leaders in your field, there’s likely a podcast that has what you need. If you’re looking for construction podcasts to check out, this article lists the top 10 construction-related podcasts you should listen to. From shows that tackle technology to podcasts that examine design and architecture, this post is packed with insightful and entertaining podcasts for anyone in AEC. Listen and learn.

9. Democratising Data and Improving Efficiency with a Single Source of Truth

Wessex Water is one of the leading water and sewage companies in England and Wales. In addition to providing their communities with excellent water services, the company also strives to manage the growing environmental, financial, and consumer demands facing the industry. To do that, Wessex Water is investing in construction technology and optimizing its workflows to improve project collaboration and outcomes. This post details the company’s journey and key learnings from its initiatives. Check it out and see if you can apply Wessex Water’s lessons in your own projects. 

10. Our Mission to Connect the Office & Field: Autodesk Build

Managing project stakeholders, data, budgets, and several other moving parts is a challenge that many construction teams face. At Autodesk, we’ve found that the best way to stay on top of projects is to centrally manage its components from one platform. Autodesk Build, a solution we launched in 2021, enables you to do just that. Read this article to learn more about Autodesk Build and the specific ways that it helps you and your teams function more smoothly and deliver better outcomes. 

Join us in The Big Room

We hope this roundup gives you plenty to think about and sheds light on insights you can use to plan for 2022 and beyond. If you’d like to discuss these findings, trends, and other topics, please join us in The Big Room, Autodesk’s community of construction professionals.

The Big Room gives you the opportunity to connect with like-minded folks to ask questions, discuss construction ideas, and more. See you there!

The post Our Top 10 Construction Blogs from 2021 appeared first on Digital Builder.

Did you miss our previous article…

Canada Achieves Foreign Trade Gains; U.S. Still Sinking

Canada’s foreign trade picture brightened considerably in June. The nation’s merchandise trade balance recorded its biggest surplus since before the 2008-2009 recession. Furthermore, there have now been four surpluses in the past six months. During the decade prior to this year, Canada’s monthly goods trade balance spent a lot of time below the zero x-axis (Graph 1).  (‘Merchandise’ trade is a fancier way of saying ‘goods’ as opposed to ‘services’ trade.)

Did you miss our previous article…

The Future of Work is Now: Is the Construction Industry Ready?

In early 2021 Deloitte was commissioned by the Autodesk Foundation to help identify the labour markets most vulnerable to technological disruption in the Asia Pacific region. The report, The Future of Work is Now: is APAC Ready? Identifies those most at risk and proposes interventions which can be scaled and adapted to different circumstances across our region.  

The current COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges it has brought, has accelerated digital trends. Heavy restrictions have been faced in Melbourne and Sydney throughout the year, and this has caused us to consider: 

  • New models of work throughout the economy 
  • Specific to construction, new methods of connecting with each employee and team from the office to onsite across the workforce, and through our supply chain
  • The demand drivers for more employees; however, there has been a real dichotomy with restricted activities as this has made it hard to find workers


Figure 1: Number of people employed in Australia (‘000s)

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Deloitte Access Economics


Figure 2: Job ads index, 100=decade average to Nov-19

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Deloitte Access Economics


Considering the last point, finding and retaining skilled workers has been an ongoing concern. The number of job advertisements as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Deloitte Access Economics have risen highly in all sectors and stayed at high levels, and unemployment is at an all-time low in Australia.


Figure 3: Number of unemployed persons per job vacancy

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Deloitte Access Economics


This year we have experienced a dual labour market where some could not work due to restrictions, while some are adjusting to new roles, and many businesses still could not fill vacancies. In October this year, Infrastructure Australia released their Infrastructure Market Capacity report which stated that up to 105,000 well-paid jobs risk being unfilled by 2023 due to global competition for workers.

Infrastructure Australia forecasted a shortage of 70,000 engineers and architects, 15,000 structural and civil trades, and 19,000 Project Managers. This makes the sector one of the hardest hit, with looming skills gaps on public projects across the country, putting more pressure on already-stressed budgets and time frames. This impact has a knock-on effect to other parts of the commercial construction industry as the sector aims to become an industry of first choice for entrants. 


Automation in Construction 

The Future of Work report covers three core components:  

  1. Impacts of automation going beyond likelihood of automation 
  2. The readiness for automation and how countries are prepared, and  
  3. Initiatives to take action as one size does not fit all, particularly across the APAC region

Construction topped the list as the industry most likely to be hardest hit by the coming wave of automation. The industry had the highest proportion of routine, manual tasks, with a high potential for automation. 


Figure 4: Impact Index result by industry


It’s also noted that Australia is the most prepared and second least at-risk country from automation. Its investment in its future workforce is a significant contributor to this result. However, as noted above, the future workforce is still at risk. Continued investment is needed, particularly in upskilling, to stay in this position and help ensure our country remains competitive in the region. 


Figure 5: Potential impact of automation and preparedness, by country

To be in the best position to benefit from automation, individuals, businesses, countries and regions need to focus on three key opportunity areas. These are identified as foresight and mindset, skills and learning, and access and inclusion. 



Based on The Future of Work research, there are four key insights about how to address the skills gap: 

  1. While training for highly specialised skills will be essential, it’s more important to shift the skills development focus to foundational, analytic, problem solving, creative and collaborative capabilities that can be transferred from role to role – because the shelf life of specific skills will continue to shrink. 
  2. The pace of change means workers need to engage in continuous skills upgrades – that’s how they will ensure stability, and it will require them imagining and navigating a very different career path. 
  3. We must shorten the distance between learning and work, which means embedding learning into the workplace by enabling workers to study new skills and experience different environments. 
  4. Addressing systemic challenges: government, industry and academia need to work better together to help people get the right skills to fill these open jobs. 


Addressing the skills and capabilities gaps

There are opportunities available that organisations like Autodesk can address with industry to close the gaps identified in the research, taking into account current market conditions. At Autodesk, we approach it with three things in mind: 

  1. What TRAINING can we put in place to allow people to constantly upgrade their skills? 
  2. What TOOLS help shorten the distance between training and work? 
  3. And how should private sector, public sector, education institutions, among others, PARTNER to address the systemic challenges in collaboration? 


To support training, Autodesk launched our new learning and credentialing platform at Autodesk University last year. The platform is designed to make training personalised and transformative. Workers can get credentials on their terms and timelines and build personalised learning pathways that help them develop the skills they need. 

Autodesk credentials make learning more accessible, measurable, and relevant for customers. Industry recognised certifications help workers to market their job readiness. Whilst the sector has foundational entry-level qualifications, the opportunity for partnerships that support the business with micro-credentials enables practical courses that can address the needs of the company.   


Autodesk Command Map is designed to watch how you use the Autodesk products, highlight the areas in which you’re proficient and the areas you need to improve on. It also offers benchmarks against industry standards to help you focus in the right areas and to use the tool to its full potential to reap the rewards of the investment.  


This takes many forms and is arguably the most complex because it takes many different parties to address the systemic problems. According to the World Economic Forum, a collaborative effort could reach 77% of all workers that need reskilling – versus just 25% if the private sector were to do this alone.  


The Future of Work is Now 

At Autodesk, we believe that automation technology, including artificial intelligence, will be required to help businesses and society meet the demands of our growing urbanisation and global population. We recognise that technological change will drive transformation – and we are committed to helping companies and their employees adapt and thrive. We believe employees prosper by adopting a mindset of continuous learning, acquiring the most in-demand skills and securing the most fulfilling roles. We are committed to collaborating with employers, the start-up community, the vocational education and training sector, universities and government organisations to advance workforce adaptability, as we invest in solutions and policies that complement employers and employees to adjust in an ever changing environment. 

Autodesk can support you and your organisation. The Future of Work report can be accessed here.  


The post The Future of Work is Now: Is the Construction Industry Ready? appeared first on Digital Builder.

Digital Builder Ep 23: Harnessing the Power of 3D Printing in Construction

Many industry leaders have heard of 3D printing, often in the context of concrete or small-scale homebuilding. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When leveraged successfully, 3D printing can play a key role in structural components (big and small), spare parts, fixtures, and even the furniture that inhabits a space. But what does it all mean to your projects?


Listen to the episode now

You can also listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and anywhere else you get your podcasts.


On this podcast episode

Our guest, Stephan Mansour, is a 3D Printing & Emerging Technology Advisor at MaRiTama Ltd. Stephan is leading the international team that’s developing global 3D printing standards from the ground up, and in this episode, he takes us on a journey into the world of 3D printing in construction.

We discuss:

  • Common misconceptions about 3D printing
  • How supply chain issues have increased interest in 3D printing for construction
  • How to implement 3D printing in your organization
  • How upcoming standards will enable mass adoption

“Everything can be 3D-printed; it’s just a matter of how far you want to go, how scalable it is, and how much money you’re going to put in.” — Stephan Mansour


Podcast highlights from Episode 23

To kick things off, Stephan shared a high-level overview of 3D printing in construction. According to him, 3D printing is “laying one material over another, to build a structure that you normally have in every construction site.”

He continues, “it’s based on a 2D model or design, that is later sliced into robotic language in order to achieve the print. So the material is tailored sometimes to the printing application that is available.”

In terms of materials used, Stephan says that 3D printing can use cement, polymer plastic, synthetic materials, or different types of recycled materials.


Debunking the myths of 3D printing

3D printing is rapidly gaining steam in the construction industry. In fact, The 3D printing construction market is expected to hit $1.5 billion by 2024

But despite its growing popularity, there are still a number of misconceptions surrounding the technology. According to Stephan, here are some of the most common 3D printing myths. 

Myth #1: 3D printing is a new process

Some people think that 3D printing is a new thing, but nothing could be further from the truth, says Stephan. 

“The early first 3D printing machine was created in the 1930s and 1940s by a company called Urschel, based in Indiana. They actually printed several structures, and the same technology is still being used by various technology providers today,” he explains. 

“So it’s not a new technology; it started off in the 1930s and ’40s. It picked up again back in the 1990s, and since then, it’s continued to gain speed.”

Myth #2: You can print anything in 24 hours

Another misconception is about the speed with which you can print. Stephan remarks that while the actual printing time may take 24 hours, the construction period of a building can take two to three weeks. 

“Expecting to have a house available and finished in 24 hours just doesn’t work,” he adds.

Myth #3: 3D printing is cheap

There’s also the notion that 3D printing structures only cost $4,000 or $5,000. 

“I’d like to debunk that,” says Stephan, who adds that while affordable housing is possible, you can only achieve it when you’re building things at a large scale. 

“If you’re doing 100 houses, 1,000 houses—then yes, the price of technology and material will go down. But when you’re building a single house or just a handful of houses, you’re still carrying on the price of technology, material, logistics, and so on, onto those five houses.”

Myth #4: You need a large R&D department to implement 3D printing

Think 3D printing requires a ton of R&D? Think again. According to Stephan, there are numerous opportunities to get started with 3D printing without pouring a lot of money into research and development.

“There are many ways you can start getting into 3D printing. You can do it through collaboration with technology providers, pilot projects, and starting small. From there, you’ll be able to move little by little, to actually having 3D printing as part of your toolbox in the construction process.”


The various use cases of 3D printing 

Some construction professionals might think that 3D printing is all about concrete and building houses. However, there are many other applications for the technology. As Stephan puts it, “you could do many things with 3D printing, just like you do anything normally with conventional means of concrete, mortar, or brick.”

Intricate facades

Stephan shares that 3D printing “can play a key role in creating facades for buildings.”

This is particularly true for projects that call for intricate and unique designs. With 3D printing, the facade “doesn’t have to be square, and you don’t have to do a mold in order to achieve very artistic or inquisitive designs that you want to get into,” says Stephan.

Parts and fixtures

In addition to printing the house itself, Stephan says you can also use 3D printing for spare parts and fixtures. 

“You can 3D print everything and anything in the house, in terms of fixtures, FTS, doorknobs, lintels, door frames, doors themselves, window frames,” he shares.


3D printing can be used to print furniture and eliminate the lead time associated with purchasing and delivering them. 

Doing so may also help you be more sustainable. “Just looking at the waste that each construction site actually produces, you can take the wood that is discarded from the formwork, turn that into dust, and print furniture,” says Stephan.

3D printing can improve efficiency in remote projects

Being able to print spare parts, furniture, and materials can also come in handy when dealing with remote projects or when you’re facing inventory shortages and supply chain issues. 

As Stephan points out, “when you talk about oil and gas and remote projects, there’s a lot of problems that happen in consortium sites. Inventory can be an issue and you may not have the right piece at the right time. When this happens, there’s usually a two- or three-week lead time.”

He continues, “3D printing can be very effective in providing that material. You can have parts available within a few hours or a day at most, as opposed to waiting three weeks. You don’t have to put the whole project on a standstill just because you’re waiting for, say, a $10 piece that is crucial in operations.”


How to get started with 3D printing

Implementing 3D printing isn’t just about purchasing a printer and building things from scratch. You need to consider a number of factors to ensure that your initiatives are successful. 

Stephan says, “Another misconception that we need to rebuff is that you can simply buy a 3D printer and presto—everything’s going to work. But that’s not the case. You have to think of 3D printing just like you would for any other piece of equipment in your construction site.”

Start small and address a pain point

Just like when investing in a large piece of equipment, you must determine a need for it before going out and purchasing the technology. 

As Stephan puts it, “you’re not going to buy a multimillion-dollar piece of equipment to sit on your construction site, and now scratch your head and figure out, ‘Okay, how am I going to use this?’”

Instead, you must first identify a pain point within your construction projects or operations and then figure out how a 3D printer can help you solve the issue. For instance, if you’re constantly running into delays for a particular part or fixture, you may consider investing in 3D printing so you can produce the right parts more quickly.

Determine your scope and investment

“There are many different variations, versions, and materials out there when it comes to 3D printing, so there’s no one size fits all solution,” says Stephan. 

The right setup depends on your project scope, objectives, and budget. So, make sure that these elements are ironed out at the beginning of your 3D printing journey. 

Have a clear idea of what you’d like to achieve and the investment you’re willing to make, and then let those factors inform your decisions on what materials or printers to utilize. 

Find the right partner

“Collaboration is key,” remarks Stephan. It’s essential that you find the right partners for your 3D printing projects. 

Who to partner with depends on the project as well as your capabilities. In some instances, you may need to bring in a technology partner who can help you get up and running. Maybe you need to find new vendors who can supply the materials required. 

Whatever the case, be aware of your capabilities and limitations, then use that knowledge to find the right collaborators.


The bottom line with 3D printing in construction

3D printing is gaining traction in the AEC industry, and it will continue to do so in the near future. The specific role that 3D printing will play in your organization will depend on your projects, so take the time to evaluate your pain points and objectives then find technology solutions and partners that can fill the gaps. 


New podcast episode every two weeks

Autodesk’s construction podcast, Digital Builder, is hosted by me, Eric Thomas. New episodes of the Digital Builder podcast go live every two weeks. 

If you’d like to take an even deeper look at 3D printing, catch the full episode of Digital Builder to learn more. 

Listen to the Digital Builder Podcast on: 

  • Apple Podcasts 
  • Spotify
  • Stitcher
  • Google Podcasts
  • or wherever you listen to podcasts

The post Digital Builder Ep 23: Harnessing the Power of 3D Printing in Construction appeared first on Digital Builder.

Did you miss our previous article…

Eamon Costello Future-Proofs Its 45-Year-Old Business with Autodesk Build

Eamon Costello is a construction services company based in Tralee, Ireland. For over 45 years, the family-owned business has worked across a wide range of disciplines, from healthcare and education to residential and conservation projects.

The team at Eamon Costello is focused on delivering the highest quality projects at the best value for clients. The company’s longevity is testament to the experience and commitment in the business. However, some of the company processes had become outdated – and the organisation was keen to innovate.

Overcoming inconsistency and onerous forms

Director Paul Lynch explains, “The construction industry is virtually unrecognisable from where it was even in 2000. In Ireland, we’ve seen the introduction of BCAR, and technology has progressed leaps and bounds. We had systems that were fit for purpose when they were initiated, but were laboursome and time-consuming.”

Processes at Eamon Costello were largely paper-based, with staff taking large amounts of time to compare drawings manually and fill in onerous forms. Inconsistency was a major challenge. “Younger people especially had no interest in filling out forms because they took so long, and the standard of information we were getting back could be diabolical.”

In 2019, the company leadership team had a “Eureka moment” and decided to re-evaluate the processes in place across the whole business. It was clear that a modern technology platform was needed to support data management for the long-term. Given Autodesk’s commitment to continuing product innovation, Eamon Costello chose Autodesk Build, a unified construction management software platform for connecting teams, workflows and data.

Future-proofing problematic processes

Eamon Costello introduced Autodesk Build on a pilot project, an €11 million social housing project running across multiple disciplines. “We were keen to find a good meaty project with lots of trade involvement to assess the system against,” Paul explained.

The implementation involved a reassessment of the company’s overall processes, which created some difficulties. “We hadn’t fully anticipated the number of internal challenges that would come to light during the process. It was nothing to do with the Autodesk system, but there were residual challenges that we wanted to solve.”

The pilot project was a learning experience. For example, initially the team planned to convert the existing Word and Excel forms into Smart PDFs, when actually switching straight to the Autodesk format brought more benefits. Now, Eamon Costello has a new folder structure and forms in place and is using the team’s feedback to finalise the system. “Everything will be much more streamlined for the future.”

An intuitive solution for managing information

Eamon Costello is using a wide range of functions on Autodesk Build to share information. The issues management system is already proving very beneficial. “Previously our safety audits were completely paper-based. Now, we can capture live issues on the site and assign them to specific people; that’s a huge benefit for us,” Paul explains.

The team is finding Autodesk Build very intuitive. “We’re working with many people who come from a very low base in terms of their IT capability. However, anyone who has taken the time to follow the tutorials and immerse themselves in the system is completely fine with it. It’s a real endorsement of the platform.”

Experienced members of the team are using Autodesk Build to make their working lives easier. “We have foremen who are in their mid-sixties and aren’t very high tech themselves, but are finding the platform really helpful,” Paul notes. “They can see and tag sheets at the touch of a button. Rather than being locked in an office looking at racks of drawings, they can take their phones out on-site and bring up anything they want. It’s a big achievement.”

Improving efficiency and traceability

Autodesk Build has now been rolled out across Eamon Costello, with five live projects and three more to come shortly. With around thirty users to date, Paul believes that the time-saving has been the biggest benefit so far. Sheet comparisons, for example, had been completed manually, with site managers and engineers taking what were originally hardcopy drawings and comparing them line by line.

“With Autodesk Build, you can take two versions of a drawing and see the changes that have been made instantaneously – without the risk of missing anything, like previous revisions,” Paul explains. “In fifteen minutes, I had trained our office administrator to complete sheet comparisons; it’s invaluable from a site management perspective.”

Traceability across the business has also improved. “Previously it was a huge chore for people to complete checklists and take photos back into the office. Now, documentation and quality checks can be completed digitally, providing us with information in a standardised format. It’s much easier for the team, and we’re benefitting from a higher quality of information and traceability.”

Using digital plans on-site is also beneficial for sustainability. Prior to the introduction of Autodesk Build, Eamon Costello printed 52,473 sheets and 1795m2 of plotted paper over a two-year period. Now, that printing has been completely eliminated on the projects where Autodesk Build is in place, saving paper and energy and creating more environmentally-friendly builds.

Ways of working ready for the future

Introducing Autodesk Build has already helped Eamon Costello to deal with the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as using the platform to host remote site meetings. Having a centralised source of information has also made the business more resilient to unexpected events, such as staff absences.

“There was one project where we lost an engineer, and the site manager was on his own for a week and a half. He said that he probably wouldn’t have coped without Autodesk, but with the platform in place he had the information he needed and could still cover the ground even in the engineer’s absence,” Paul recalls.

As well as supporting the current team, Paul believes that having modern construction software in place will help to attract younger people to the business. “We’re constantly recruiting for all kinds of roles. As soon as we tell them that we use Autodesk, you can see them getting engaged and interested.”

In the year ahead, Paul and the team will focus on making use of even more features on Autodesk Build, including progress tracking, scheduling and assets. The next stage will be to get collaborators, including designers and subcontractors, onto the platform to further improve project processes. “The Autodesk product development team has been hugely responsive to our needs. With a few minor developments, it will be a fantastic solution that will grow with us and help us to keep up with the future of the industry.”

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