How digital tech can transform the HK construction industry

Hong Kong’s construction industry is in good shape. The sector grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.37 per cent between 2010 and 2014, buoyed by public and private sector investments under the umbrella of the Vision 2030 program. Recent research has projected a slight slowing of growth, down to 6.91 per cent up to 2019, but the sector is supported by government investment in infrastructure and housing construction projects. The government has already made commitments to improving access to transport networks, to improving general infrastructure for tourists and to increasing energy efficiency through investment in renewable projects.

Infrastructure projects are one of the central pillars of the construction industry’s future in Hong Kong, alongside commercial properties in ongoing urbanization initiatives. But challenges remain: building tenants such as multinational corporations (MNC) expect high performance, technologically-enabled buildings that deliver next generation workplaces. Regulation continues to be a factor of course too, with green targets to be met when constructing new properties.  Fortunately, digital technology has provided a smart way forward.

BIM blazing a trail

The use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) has increased across Hong Kong’s construction industry. It offers a new way to change the dynamics of the construction supply chain and provide new, collaborative ways of working while also improving communications on projects.

What does BIM enable? Simply put, it lets construction companies design and make buildings of the future. Hong Kong’s government recognized the potential for BIM a few years ago, when it established The Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling (HKIBIM) in 2009, and uptake of BIM by construction companies has been steady. The technology is making great leaps forward, and companies are now adopting BIM for multiple reasons.

BIM can provide benefits to construction projects at numerous stages, from giving a better visualisation of a project at design stage, to helping them detect design faults early, which minimizes potential delays further down the line. Site safety and management can be improved using BIM, and it also helps companies maximize resources on a project by giving them oversight of all the information about a building. Positive ROI from using BIM is another big benefit for construction companies, while many companies that already use BIM report being better able to keep budgets and costs on track.

IoT also impacting Hong Kong

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is also being used to advance the Hong Kong construction sector. Real-time monitoring using IoT sensors has already brought benefits to major bridge and tunnel projects in Hong Kong, and those same sensors can add real value to smart buildings. The real estate market in Hong Kong is a highly competitive one, and IoT can play an important role in making buildings more attractive to potential tenants.

IoT solutions and apps can deliver on energy efficiency targets by using sensors throughout the building married to data analytics, for example. Machine learning and predictive analytics tools are powering new automated systems that deliver further efficiencies. These are attractive benefits to MNCs looking to find the right home for their operations in Hong Kong.

Transforming construction, digitally

The government of Hong Kong is currently urging various industries to progress adoption of IoT technologies and solutions, with a view to pushing the city forward as a digital business venue and potentially a ‘smart city’ in future. Hong Kong already uses IoT sensors around the city that gather real-time traffic data, and they are also deployed in city storm drains to detect water levels and warn of possible impending landslides.

BIM and IoT solutions can be the next great leap forward for Hong Kong’s construction industry, and enable the sector to thrive and bring technology-powered benefits to citizens and businesses.

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To read more about how construction companies can use digital technologies to innovate and stay competitive, please read a new PwC white paper, “Building smart: How digital technology can help construction companies achieve more value”:

Brenda Chan

Brenda Chan is General Manager for Orange Business Hong Kong & Taiwan. She is responsible for developing and managing Orange Business' portfolio of business solutions for multinational enterprises, and provides strategic direction to support the growth of Orange Business as the leading integrated communications provider for the country.

Brenda has over 20 years' experience in IT and telecommunications with various providers including Orange Business, BT, AT&T and PCCW. She has in-depth telecoms experience and strong customer-centric focus that lets her enjoy trusted partnerships with customers.