Technology is rapidly transforming industries across all sectors, but some have been slower to access the benefits offered by digital transformation. According to Paul Fitzsimons, GM of the Power and Energy Services Sector at GIBB, only by adopting new technologies quickly, training their people, getting new processes up and running and adjusting their pricing to market, will engineering firms be able to remain competitive in an increasingly volatile space.
“While some industries such as FMCG, automotive and financial have been innovating for years, other industries such as engineering need to accelerate their efforts to keep abreast of global trends. In the past, change in the engineering industry was more evolutionary than disruptive and the sector has been slow to adopt new technologies. It is only in recent times that disruptive technologies and processes have caused inflexion points in how the industry operates,” he says.
Fitzsimons points out that building information modelling (BIM) is one of the technologies transforming the engineering industry. Originally a collaborative digital process used to design buildings using a coherent system of computer models rather than separate sets of drawings, today, BIM is fast becoming the international standard for the design, construction and operation of buildings, roads and rail, utilities, process plants, oil platforms, ships, factories and mines, among others.
“BIM will bring the engineering industry forward and organisations will be compelled to adapt. Internationally, such approaches are increasingly being integrated into public sector development standards. By way of example, a law passed in the United Kingdom in 2010 required that every government project commencing after 2016 be BIM level two compliant, with energy reduction as the main driving force,” he says.
To compete on the world stage, South Africa will therefore have to adopt global engineering and construction standards and technologies, he adds. “Ultimately, South Africa needs to develop a sustainable approach to such issues regarding adopting global engineering and construction standards. Large multinational companies wanting to invest in facilities on South African shores may well expect companies competing for the engineering and building business to meet such global standards. Failure to do so could well decrease local productivity and competitiveness.”
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