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Breaking free from cyclical challenges in Singapore's construction industry

Kin Weng Tan
Kin Weng Tan • 4 min read
Breaking free from cyclical challenges in Singapore's construction industry
A good data strategy will help construction companies improve operational efficiency and mitigate future challenges. Photo: Unsplash
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Labour shortages, supply chain issues, workplace safety, and rising raw material costs. The challenges of the last few years still plague Singapore’s construction sector without signs of abatement.

The good news is that many construction projects are in the pipeline. Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) predicted total construction demand to be roughly $27 billion to $32 billion in 2023. Recently announced mega-infrastructure projects like Changi’s Terminal 5 and Tuas Mega Port are also expected to contribute significantly to the industry’s overall optimistic outlook. This optimism is evident among construction players, where Procore’s How We Build Now 2023 benchmark industry report found that 90% of Singapore’s construction leaders expressed confidence in the industry’s market conditions in the next 12 months.

It is more important than ever for construction businesses in Singapore to address the ever-persistent industry challenges. One way to do so is to embark on a transformation that many other industries have already partaken in: Digitisation.

Saying goodbye to chaos

Data has played a major role in other sectors for decades. Aside from providing the foundation for informed and data-driven decision-making, data can also help companies identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas where resources can be better allocated, leading to cost savings and improved productivity.

While the construction industry was once accused of being too slow to digitise, many forward-thinking businesses have now shaken off that reputation by incorporating digital technologies into their projects—and for good reasons, too.

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In construction, data allows businesses to gain a holistic understanding of their project portfolio, add predictability to their projects, streamline processes, and promote more sustainable practices by analysing criteria such as energy usage, materials, and waste management. Data has become such a critical factor in construction that the industry is now producing approximately 2.5 billion gigabytes of data daily. These include everything from financial data and business correspondence to inventory, construction schedules, site surveys, and even geospatial data.

Construction companies today are generating more data than ever, but managing and utilising data efficiently is another question altogether. In fact, roughly 96% of all data collected by construction businesses remains untapped.

In Singapore, construction professionals are highly aware of the value of data. According to Procore’s benchmark report, construction professionals are cognisant that managing data more efficiently can reduce total spending on projects by up to 22%. It is also found that more than half of all construction professionals in Singapore (53%) lack confidence in developing and implementing a data strategy.

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Effective data management in action

Good data strategy begins with good data management. The first order of business is ensuring a single source of truth. This is especially critical, as each project involves many stakeholders across different functions and countries. Having all data in a single source guarantees that all involved can make timelier, smarter decisions.

Many businesses have turned to construction management platforms, which serve as a central repository. With these platforms delivering real-time information, stakeholders can spot potential issues and proactively address them. Greater visibility also helps stakeholders identify cost redundancies and produce more accurate financial reporting.

One example of a company that has mastered effective data management is Sime Darby Property, a Malaysia-based integrated developer with projects across Asia Pacific and the UK. To drive greater efficiencies and future-proof the business, Sime Darby Property collaborated with Procore to create a common data environment that recorded 100% of construction and post-construction defects.

Aside from better risk management, Sime Darby Property was able to analyse its wealth of construction data and facilitate better decision-making. Furthermore, with all the data at hand, the company reduced its time to deliver, construct, and start work by as much as 12 months.

Breaking free from cyclical challenges

With labour, cost and supply chain-related challenges likely to remain in the future, it is more important than ever for construction companies to take the leap and begin the journey to harness the power of data and build smarter, safer, on the foundation operational efficiency.

The reality is that challenges are perpetual, with change being the only constant. By leveraging the right tools with the right data, construction businesses can make better judgments about the future and mitigate potential challenges.

Kin Weng Tan is the regional manager of Procore in Asia

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