Connected Construction: Why It’s Moving Manufacturing Forward

construction manufacturing future of connected construction

The manufacturing industry’s footprint is sizable, with an average GDP of slightly over $2 trillion in the United States from 2005 to 2019. Throughout the recent growth of the industry, leaders have looked to new technology and emerging trends to remain competitive in the space. The global pandemic has only accelerated this evolution as connected construction and advanced flexible spaces have moved to the forefront of methods for navigating constraints and shifts in demand.

Case in point, Bosch Rexroth’s leadership highlighted the significance of automation, digitization, and connected assisted systems in their virtual “Explore the Factory of the Future” event.

Thomas Fecher, head of R&D, described the factory of the future as more than a space with a production line. Instead, it will take shape as an infrastructure with the flexible elements of a factory (e.g. smart flooring, modular factory design, mobile machinery). These elements will give manufacturers the flexibility they need to adapt to disruptions.

The future of manufacturing will lean heavily on innovation to build and operate efficiently, with construction teams playing a significant role in this next phase of the industry. To deliver, construction teams will need to build more efficiently and flexibly to meet changing demands and requirements.

As consumers increase their demand for rapid supply chains and high-quality products at an affordable price point, manufacturing companies will, in turn, expect construction companies to deliver spaces that allow them to produce effectively. These facilities are critical to helping owners manage operations effectively.

For a better understanding of these changes and how to help construction teams excel in building for manufacturing, download our new ebook now.

Data: The Root Issue Behind Slow or Shut Down Production Lines

The manufacturing industry’s primary purpose is to create products. When factories aren’t in operation, their owners–operators lose potential revenue by the minute. What causes production lines to shut down? Some of the most common reasons include slow project schedules, a lack of collaboration, having to search for updated drawings, and contractor miscommunication.

Many of these issues stem from the same core problem: disparate data. Most owners–operators in the industry don’t operate their factories with full lifecycle data in hand. The data lives with the various contractors who are in charge of creating a specific part of the factory. With each contractor working from different models with their own distinct formats, the data naturally remains stagnant and siloed.

Other common issues that contribute to slow or halted production lines include:

  • Data silos between production and facility teams
  • Contractors working on different models or inaccurate as-builts
  • Slow discovery and distribution of design updates
  • Paper-dependent factory checklists and issue tracking
  • Delays to access current factory drawings and documents

Where Connected Construction and Manufacturing Fit Together

How can the industry address these issues and integrate flexibility into their facilities? Owners–operators must have access to valuable information across all contractors and stakeholders to develop an end-to-end view of their facility and operations. Creating this view just isn’t possible with data silos and paper-dependent processes.

Connected construction can help breakdown silos and prevent additional ones from forming. Instead of trying to piece together information from multiple systems and processes, connected construction software allows contractors and owners–operators to work from a single source of truth.

Each stakeholder will have access to real-time updates on projects, processes, and documents. Connected construction software enables collaboration across contractors, locations, and devices. These tools are often used while building a new factory, renovating an existing facility, or retooling existing production lines. Whatever the project, connected construction software can help complete it faster.

The Software Construction Teams Need to Deliver Manufacturing Projects

Purpose-built software can provide accessible data and increased collaboration. Having to piece together multiple technical tools will only allow more silos to develop. When evaluating potential software solutions for the manufacturing construction industry, consider the following:

  • Digital collaboration tools: Can you and your stakeholders collaborate as you work and access plans, documents, and drawings?
  • Common data environment for factory data: Will all of your information come together in one centralized place?
  • Permission levels to control data access: Can you set limits on who can access data to ensure the security and integrity of the information?
  • Asset and equipment tracking tools: Are you able to effectively manage the lifecycle of these assets? Can you develop usage reports?
  • Version control for drawings and change management: Will your team have access to the latest version of drawings, as well as previous versions?
  • Current factory information for inspection compliance: Does the solution meet compliance standards?
  • Ease of adoption and use: How quickly can you get things up and running? How intuitive is the interface?

The Connected Future of Manufacturing Construction

Disruption has pushed manufacturing into the future faster than expected. The industry must continue to navigate constraints and changes in demand, but the opportunities to innovate have truly arrived. If you’re interested in accelerating the future of manufacturing construction, then dive right into our latest ebook.

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Eric Thomas

Eric is a Sr. Multimedia Content Marketing Manager at Autodesk and hosts the Digital Builder podcast. He has worked in the construction industry for over a decade at top ENR General Contractors and AEC technology companies. Eric has worked for Autodesk for nearly 5 years and joined the company via the PlanGrid acquisition. He has held numerous marketing roles at Autodesk including managing global industry research projects and other content marketing programs. Today Eric focuses on multimedia programs with an emphasis on video.