by Jenni McCann
“The great growling engine of change. Technology.” Alvin Toffler.
Technology, and the change it brings to the construction industry, was the buzzword at this year’s Digital Construction Expo (co-located at the annual Totally Concrete and African Construction Expo.) And what an expo it was, with the support from its main sponsors ( Oracle Construction & Engineering, Turner Townsend, WSP and Nashua)
With over 7,000 visitors over two days, exhibitors and presenters were kept on their toes by the national and continental construction professionals who attended. It was an opportunity to see and understand the digital needs for those who design, build, operate and maintain the African built environment.
The construction information technology on display was diverse and each vendor was more impressive than the last. Highlights included several drone dealers and operators, the gambit of Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools and technology suppliers, 3D scanners, Virtual Reality solutions, building app developers and many more. It attracted business leaders, thought leaders, innovators and implementers – all who form the fabric of the Construction Industry.
As an educational and networking event, the Digital Construction Expo provided over 30 exhibitions, eight panel discussions and over 18 free software upskilling workshops, giving visitors an opportunity to learn, share and listen.
As a commentator and journalist, I was repeatedly drawn to the Digital Knowledge Lounge, an open-air panel of thought leaders that covered a variety of tech-related topics, touching on an array of the specific professionals that make up the construction industry as a whole.
Digital Knowledge Lounge
The panel discussions at the Digital Knowledge Lounge contrasted old and new working methods and included honest discussions on the pros and cons of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other technological developments.
Many construction firms have – for decades – found ways of designing and operating buildings, or their components, which work for them. However, global technology continues to change the way the sector works, challenging those time-honoured methodologies and demanding digital competency from all those involved in delivering construction projects.
Asked about this, Vaughan Harris, Programme Director for the event and Executive Director for the BIM Institute explains, “Our industry is siloed, fractured and too often adversarial, but events such as the Digital Construction Expo this will change, by bringing people together from different backgrounds to learn from each other and see that technology is an enabler of better processes and outcomes, not a driver in and of itself.”
Comments from attendees, exhibitors and speakers
Larry Feinberg, Executive Director, Association of South African Quantity Surveyors.
“It was a pleasure to be there, and certainly let’s explore opportunities to collaborate together in this field,”
Melvin Motale, Architect:Research and Green Technology, Gauteng Department of Infrastructure and Development.
Graham Alexander, Director, BuildAid.
SA GeoTech 2017 focusses on leading edge geospatial and measurement technologies for precision, planning and performance, including skills, solutions and applications for engineers (electrical, mining, mechanical, civil and consulting), technologists, technicians, surveyors, architects, business leaders, managers, data analysts, quantity surveyors, scientists, project managers and decision-makers in the public and private sectors – government, municipalities, business and industry.