The COVID-19 pandemic has made people aware of the power of technology. Along the same lines, Vijay Gupta, Chairman and CEO, SoftTech Engineers Limited, talks about why it’s about time for the engineering and construction sector to think about technology adoption.
Yes, the last few days have transformed the situation a lot. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the engineering and construction sector like never before. However, it would be unfair to say that the current situation has only brought challenges. It has also offered an opportunity to innovate and bring more and more technology into our businesses.
If I have to categorize the current challenges faced by the sector, I will categorize in three major areas:
- Cash flow
- Supply chain
We all know that the engineering and construction sectors have a large pool of skilled and unskilled workforce. However, currently, the sector is facing an acute shortage of manpower, and on the other hand, the lockdown has also struck the supply chain very hard. No doubt, there will be a larger impact on cash flow, customer acquisition, project completion, and workforce management.
The Role of Government:
I believe the government has the most important role to play to boost this sector post lockdown. A lot shall depend on how the government deploys measures towards the economic revival. Through relief packages, credit schemes, and other tax benefits, the government can bring back life to this sector.
The Need of the Hour:
As the entire global economy has been affected by COVID-19, there will be a long-drawn battle on cards among all the fronts – economic, social, and technological. However, the sector should start afresh with immediate goals in the mind, such as the construction of ongoing projects that need to be completed, ensuring the safety and well-being of their workforce, and giving their customers a sense of belief and trust.
I know, things are not going to be so smoother, however, the sector needs to adopt an approach that gives them a sense of relief amid difficult times like Covid-19.
I believe, the role of technology is going to be pivotal to fight this COVID-19 battle by the construction industry.
There has to be a cohesive and collaborative approach between government agencies, professional consultants, and technology solution providers like us. When we are speaking in terms of Smart Cities, Digital India, and Ease of Doing Business, we cannot afford to lose our focus or momentum. As I said earlier, this scenario has also brought an opportunity to do better in terms of technology innovation.
In the technology adoption, the construction industry is lagging compared to other industries. Now, this is the time that construction industry players re-think their strategies and policies and go for the much-needed technology adoption.
The government will come out with its policies to boost the economy; however, the industry players should also need to rise above the traditional mindset. When we speak about the lack of technology adoption, automatically, the burden and dependency on the workforce increases. And today, the sector is feeling the heat of workforce crunch.
Apart from the workforce crisis, the construction industry players will also have to think of their existing projects, in terms of overall project management, approvals (both internal and external), the required data to analyze the possible impact and recovery and most important is to maintain the project performance and track record of their workforce. Here, the technology will have a major role to play. Remember, this digital data (either in the form of database or CAD files or building models with associated parameters) will also have a major impact on the overall positioning of the company in the days to come.
While I conclude, I would like to mention one important example of technology implementation in the construction domain. There are certain areas in the industry, such as construction permits approval, building plan validations are already being processed online; however, the need is to increase the adoption of such digital-driven processes. We believe such processes will bring convenience to the real estate owners and architects.
Also, concepts like single-window clearance system will bring collaboration amongst all the parties involved in construction permits and brings them on a single platform to avoid difficulties faced by building owners in running after multiple agencies for different NOCs and losing a significant amount of time in getting the permission. This will also contribute to the overall e-governance implementation in construction permits.
Support from industry and government leaders is imperative for further R&D in this complex space to bring delight to all the stakeholders. We aim that authority portals across the world should be able to issue construction permits along with all applicable NOCs from various internal as well as external agencies through an online Single Window Clearance System. It’s the time that more and more industry players and government bodies should come ahead and make optimum use of such technologies.