Press Release - Process Innovation Forum @ Digital Construction Week 2017

Co-Creation Programme and The Blockchains Workshop Round-up

DCW 2017 Conference has been enormously successful for the Process Innovation Forum’s (PIF) movement with immense support from the organisers. An explosion of innovation, ideas and energy seems to be the pathway being mapped for a smarter Built Environment.

The Highlights

  • The Blockchains for Construction Open-Innovation Workshop was chaired by Ahmed Zghari Sales. The workshop unpacked the most exciting Innovation Opportunities and identified the most pressing Process Pains in the construction industry.

  • The Co-Creation Programme’s topical events staged to date were presented at the Industry 4.0 stage. The six passionate innovators who Chaired the events presented their outcomes.

  • The concept and the intent of the Innovation Framework was presented to Industry at the Digital Built Environment Stage by Alain Waha, Jakub Wachocki and Raj Chawla laying the initial stepping stones to open innovation.

  • A podcast hosted by Paul Wilkinson of EE was recorded with Jakub Wachocki, Raj Chawla and Rob Driscoll presenting and debating the Process Innovation Forum’s ideas, structure, strategy and work to date and how open and managed innovation will bring value to the built environment.

Our first Co-Creation Programme is assembling the foundation blocks for democratising innovation within the AECO industry groups. This will give us a smarter built environment which will be transparent allowing a collective intelligence and willingness to take action.

The workshops delivered to date, have been unlocking the possible innovations within the number of areas that include legal and contractual arenas, project controls, drones, wearables technologies, VR/AR/MR, lean and pre-construction methodologies, skills and education around innovation and the most topical subject of blockchains.

The Blockchains in Construction Open-Innovation Workshop

For Ahmed Zghari-Sales (Director, HC BIM), the Workshop’s Chair, Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) also referred to as Blockchains, are being hailed as the next big industrial revolution. This technology has the potential to have a bigger impact on business and society than the internet has had, even when taking into account the huge technological advances we have seen over the last 20 years.

To evaluate the potential benefits of Blockchains on the built environment and infrastructure sector, an interactive workshop was created. This was to challenge how this new technology could support or accelerate the industry changes sought by the introduction of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and other transformative digital technologies.

The view of the 40 experts from the construction sector and from several of world’s largest software vendors was that Blockchains do have the potential to accelerate the use of transformation processes such as BIM, as well as regulate the unstructured and disparate supply chains within the construction sector.

Three areas in particular were highlighted as starting points for pilots:

  • Circular Economy. Traceability of materials from original digital design, through to manufacturing, installation and eventual recycling.

  • Smart Contracts. Breaking down big complex contracts into smaller automated rule based contracts that could attach payments, insurances and multi-party sign-off to actual provable supply chain events in real time.

  • Project Accounts. Making payments and cash flows more open to speed up payments to suppliers, sub-contractors and third parties.

The general consensus from the workshop was that Blockchains will play a significant role in the transformation of the construction sector and its industry groups. To develop the value and application capabilities of the blockchain technology several test beds and pilot projects will be required.

With significant contributions from the financial technology(FinTech) sector , the blockchain technology has started to make inroads into construction sector focused pilots.

So far the limiting factor is the alacrity of people to get involved. The Process Innovation Forum will be this stage where people can easily get involved in innovating and launching their innovations.

The first pilot project looking at creating a circular economy based on steelwork is now underway.

The Process Innovation Forum are now looking to start the other pilot projects and are inviting keen people and organisations to get touch and help shape the future use of Blockchains within the built environment and its industry groups.

What is next?

An open-innovation roundtable will be chaired by Duncan Evans (Head of Digital, Crossrail 2) next month, following by an Innovation Management Workshop chaired by Maggie Brown (Co-Chair, i3p) and Chris Newman (Director, Turner & Townsend) which will then lead to identifying the impact, the measures and the opportunities of the Industry 4.0 and automation within the "Empathy vs Industry 4.0" workshop chaired by Alain Waha (Global Head of Digital, Buro Happold).

Co-Creation Workshops that have already been held

We're exploring the value of VR / AR / MR at the different stages of an asset's lifecycle. This involves looking at integrating VR with processes, not just using it as a means of output. Access to information and models will be improved and easier to understand across the whole project team. Team behaviour will change with advanced telepresence, leading to remote team collaboration in creation, testing and rapid optioneering - says James Bowles (Director, Freeform) and David-John Gibbs (Lead, BIM Advisory and Dispute Resolution, HKA), the VR/AR Workshop Chairs.

Today Drones are being used throughout the whole construction process from design through to end of life of the asset. The main barrier to its mass adoption is primarily one of legislation and education. Whatever wacky and outlandish idea you can conjure up for Drone usage, you can rest assured it is already being done. That includes an edible Drone! - adds Tony Shooter (COMIT, Director, Hub Group)

The Project Controls workshop was organised in order to collect, share and discuss, in an open environment, pains, solutions and opportunities associated with the changes that digitisation can bring about in the Project Controls (PC) area.

The general consensus on the unchanged importance of controlling projects, on the fact that the number of projects-programmes that fail is still too high and on the lack of smart solution(s) to well-known pains have confirmed and reiterated the need to continue working in this area - summarises Franco Pittoni (Director, FP Opera, KPMG Advisor)

The key opportunities were identified and discussed as to where Wearables are being used now and where they could be used in future Construction activities. The areas being considered include Safety, Health, Communications, Insurance, Security, Accessibility, Environment, Asset Management, Social Interaction, Data Gathering. We will continue momentum in the on-going projects, and engagement with like minded individuals to develop the thoughts and ideas so far identified - says Stuart Young (COMIT, Managing Director, Fiatech)

The Lean and Pre-construction workshop have attracted more than 25 high level participants from equal number of institutions and practices and analysed in Barcelona at Fundación Laboral de la Construcción (Badalona) why public administrations and contractors are so reluctant to introduce the planning processes to facilitate the smooth deployment of these methodologies.

Lack of knowledge, difficulties in commitment by public servants, no best practices identified and aversion to develop regulations have been the most pressing challenges, says Ignasi Perez Arnal (Director, BIM Academy)

Rob Driscoll (Director, BESA) concludes his Legal and Contractual workshop - The term ‘disruption’ is being thrown around a lot at the moment when it comes to the changing nature of industry, but disruption is not always a bad thing to drive efficiency and innovation.

We are launching the challenge to the wider world to form Co-creation Teams on:

  • Creating cloud based contracts that support asset life-cycle

  • Creating digital clause banks catering for amongst other issues

  • Creating digital platforms for the integration of project lawyers into project teams

  • Integrated labour, materials and risk pricing tools

  • Creating digital audit and compliance tools

  • Creating digital payment platforms that integrate all types of cash-flow disbursement models including Project Bank Accounts

  • Creating post-contract digitally automated evaluation systems

The workshop Outcomes are summarised HERE.

“Innovation needs to be the heart of the industry and it is this aspect that needs to be understood and more importantly an emphasis on managing the innovation asset base. PIF as an organisation is starting to form a shell. This will start to allow us to deliver platforms where innovations can be allowed to be challenged, tested, incubated and scaled. It is becoming a professional organisation and with a reputation of credibility” says Raj Chawla (CTO, Nunelah).

Jakub Wachocki (Strategy Advisor, Bentley) adds:

"We have been attracting remarkably smart, creative and knowledgeable visionaries throughout the Co-Creation Programme so far and we will be working hard together to convert this excellence into the next steps, aiming to formulate a robust open-innovation framework for our Industry. We would like to thank our Industry Partners, the Chairs and all the active participants for the effort along this exciting journey so far."

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We have created the Process Innovation Forum (PIF), a non-profit organisation providing a commercially agnostic environment in which to seed, incubate, develop and promote innovation. PIF’s framework allows individuals, industry and academic peers to work together to devise newer and better ways of working, to ultimately benefit the whole industry.

If you're passionate about accelerating innovation in the built-environment, we'd like you to join the revolution!

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