Reimaging construction and project management

Dr Dean Kashiwagi (front row, middle) and Dr Chia (third from right) with the participants

The Centre for Extension Education (CEE) in collaboration with Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science (LKC FES) Department of Surveying organised a talk titled “Reimaging Construction and Project Management” at UTAR Sungai Long Campus on 15 June 2019.

Invited to be the speakers were LKC FES Department of Surveying Assoc Prof Dr Chia Fah Choy and Kashiwagi Solution Model Research Group and the Performance Based Studies Research Group (PBSRG) Director Dr Dean Kashiwagi. They presented their talks titled “Digital Construction: Are we ready?” and “Project Manager of the Future: Information worker” respectively.

Dr Chia

“Digitalisation in the construction industry is not very encouraging. According to an analysis, the construction sector is ranked second from the bottom among the other sectors. However, the adoption of technology is starting to infuse all aspects of day-to-day life, from the standard use of smartphones on site to digital plans,” said Dr Chia. He then explained the three major areas of Digital Construction; Data as the sixth factor of production; how connectivity capabilities transform construction industry; and Digital Construction equals to Artificial Intelligence (AI) plus Big Data plus Connectivity.

“There are three factors of production in the classic economy, namely land, labour and capital. Subsequently, the fourth factor was introduced into the theory, which is entrepreneurship. The fifth factor is natural capital because of the growing concern over the green economy. Now, coming to the digital economy, data will be the sixth factor of production. By having the data, we are able to use the information that we have to generate information that we do not have. Our current daily data production is about 2.5 quintillion bytes. Forty thousand Google searches take place every second; 4.1 million people watch Youtube every minute; 144 million contents are posted on Facebook every hour and every day we have 3.7 billion people using the internet,” said Dr Chia.

He then continued, “Connectivity capabilities are transforming the construction industry. For example, we have BIM 360 and BIM 360 is a construction management software which is able to connect all the works that we are working on. is a software used to read the photos that we have captured.” Meanwhile, he also shared some other examples of the software. “Currently, one of the top ten strategic technology trends is Digital Twin. A digital twin is a replica of physical assets. It means we will have digital assets to help us do advanced predictive analysis,” said Dr Chia.

“AI in the construction industry has the lowest rank among all the other sectors in terms of AI spending. In terms of adoption, we are somewhere in the middle. However, there are four major applications that encourage the use of AI in the construction industry such as planning and design, safety and efficient, autonomous equipment and monitoring and maintenance. An example of AI used in the construction industry is the Autodesk project in Toronto,” said Dr Chia. He also showed a video on how a robot is used to supervise at the sites.

He added, “We have a new elective subject called ‘Digital Construction’ starting from this semester. It has been introduced to UTAR students who are pursuing Quantity Survey Programme.  It will cover Building Information Modelling, Big Data, Internet of Things, AI, Blockchain Technology and Digital Built Environment which covers smart building and smart city.”

Dr Dean Kashiwagi

Dr Dean Kashiwagi, on the other hand, began his talk by explaining the law of nature, “The moment when you have to know more about something, you will have to take more, which will increase your stress level and decrease your performance. That is the law of nature. Hence, you need to keep it simple whenever you make a conversation with people.”

He then continued, “In the industrial structure, every industry is based on competition and performance. Most of the people will say that if we increase the competition, it will help us to get the vendor to drive the cost down, while others say that we should identify people who know what they are doing and they will drive the cost down. Those are the two different philosophies. People who know what they are doing will always be better as they can see their own future. Experts take less time to think and they can predict their future. In other words, people who know less will think more and that is the law of nature.” Meanwhile, he also shared with the participants the difference between an expert and someone who think they are an expert.

He also explained why we need automation, “Automation is important to a manager. It would be too stressful for a manager to work without automation. When we have automation, people do not have to think and they do not have to change because that is the only way to get something done. Automation makes things simpler and easier. It also helps to minimise conflicts.”

According to Dr Dean Kashiwagi, it is important for professionals to become an “Information worker” Project Manager. “Information worker” Project Manager is the “Project Manager of the Future”. The Project Manager will need to do the work often. On top of that, he also talked about the importance of the need to simplify things instead of making things more complex. He also shared how one could cut down costs by 30% by identifying and utilising expertise.

LKC FES Department of Surveying Dr Felicia Yong Yan Yan (left) presenting a token of appreciation to Dr Chia

Dr Felicia Yong (left) presenting a token of appreciation to Dr Dean Kashiwagi

Participant during Q&A session

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