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Will the robot replace the foreman

Technological trends – cloud solutions, robotics, radio frequency sensors – over the past few years have swept almost all sectors of the global economy. Successful will be those few Russian players who already today see themselves as part of the global market and are guided by the best world practices
Some of the technological threads are undergoing a fundamental transformation, such as logistics, in which, according to forecasts, within 10 years, platform solutions will turn the transportation itself into commodity and assign a very modest role in the business process directly to the contractor. The rest simply use the achievements of progress to optimize their processes and increase their speed and efficiency.

Of course, such a complex process as construction could not remain on the sidelines. Everyone, of course, is waiting for 3D printing at home, but for now construction companies are actively using drones, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc. On most American megastrocks, small sensors monitor the amount of materials on the construction site. When approaching the critical mark of one of them, the system sends a signal to the warehouse and forms an order for the delivery of additional quantities. At the same time, complex algorithms not only monitor the flow, but also predict the next stages of construction, forming orders based on what materials will be needed next. This allows you to reduce employee costs, excess materials, logistics and optimize the process itself, significantly speeding it up.

In 2016, we conducted a global survey among construction companies with revenues from $ 1 to $ 20 billion, which showed that, despite the widespread fear of top managers that the cost of introducing new technologies may not pay off at the time of commissioning, most still that this is the only way for timely growth and development in a competitive environment. The most popular technologies are: remote monitoring of construction sites (62%), BIM-modeling (61%), drones for monitoring construction sites (42%), robotics and automation (30%), radio-frequency sensors for moving equipment and materials (30 %) and compact sensors for moving personnel (17%).

At the same time, only 60% of the companies surveyed already use the technologies described above, the remaining 40% are at the stage of launching innovations or preparing a business model for their implementation. Only 20% of companies around the world can boast a full-fledged transition to modern rails. The most advanced regions were the countries of North America, Asia Pacific (ASPAC), Europe and the Middle East (EME).

Russia here is clearly in the role of catching up. We use modern equipment and materials, but so far we rarely use advanced technologies for project management and monitoring the stages of their implementation. Russian construction companies are primarily puzzled by the support of their operating activities in difficult economic conditions. In our country, in principle, there is a short planning horizon, and today they generally invest only in what will give quick returns: the introduction of innovative technologies from the point of view of ROI (return on investment) does not always demonstrate the necessary result in the required period, in connection with which such initiatives are delayed in a long box. In addition, the sanctions that contributed to the outflow of foreign construction companies from the Russian market led to the fact that today we have a fairly competitive, but very local market, that is, players can afford not to change business models and stay on those same performance indicators. Perhaps the main providers of international project management experience to us are Turkish construction companies, which are currently significant players in the Russian construction contract market.

However, sooner or later, the sanctions will be lifted, the economy will stabilize, Western investors will return to the Russian market and new major players will come who will significantly benefit in comparison with the domestic ones in terms of efficiency and, therefore, price. Obviously, in this situation, the Russian construction sector will need time to not only continue to function, but to be competitive and profitable: to find funds and select appropriate technologies, revise the strategy, optimize processes for it, introduce innovations, etc. And even if all this succeeds, we will still catch up. One of the drivers of the turn of our companies towards technological development should be the state, for example, requiring contractors to use BIM-technologies in the design process for state orders (this principle is already being introduced).

In the medium term, those few Russian players who already today see themselves as part of the global market and focus on world best practices will be successful.

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