Michael Flippo - stock.adobe.com
A1 Digital, the digital transformation and digitisation specialist at A1 Telekom Austria Group, has joined 10 other partners working together under the consortium leadership of RIB Information Technologies to digitise processes in the German construction industry, and increase their productivity by up to 10%.
The Intelligent Empowerment of Construction Industry research project (iECO) aims to create a common data repository for the construction industry on the basis of GAIA-X, an initiative of European companies to create joint services for challenges in areas such as cloud computing and data infrastructure.
The project sees the possibilities of such a repository including the ability to create a digital twin over the entire life cycle of a building, from the initial basic assessment to demolition, and to develop Smart Advanced Services (SAS) based on artificial intelligence (AI) and put them into practice. The creation of a transparent and open ecosystem and the use of suitable AI algorithms play a central role. These features are initially researched, developed and then used in the smart services of the ecosystem in various phases of the life cycle of the digital twin.
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection, and the partners involved are working together to break down data silos, improve data sharing in the construction industry and close the industry’s productivity gap.
With around 2.5 million employees and annual sales of €130bn, the construction industry is one of the key industries in the German economy. A1 Digital believes data silos complicate or prevent efficient interaction in the value chain of the construction industry.
The need for coordination between the individual trades is particularly great. Even small companies regularly have to make changes to their original plans, which in turn always requires further adjustments. Such changes to plans and schedules often result in expensive idle time or rework. As a result, productivity in the construction industry is around 30% lower than in other industries.
In addition to A1 Digital, Software AG and RIB, the partners include prominent companies from the German construction industry, renowned universities and research institutions, and the Landesgewerbeanstalt Bayern. A1 Digital is primarily involved in the creation of a common data room for the construction industry based on the Gaia-X data infrastructure, the networking of all devices and employees involved in the construction process, and the evaluation of the collected data to optimise processes. It is primarily contributing its cloud service, Exoscale, and internet of things (IoT) services, as well as advanced analytics, to the project.
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The common data room is intended to create the technical and organisational conditions for companies to make sensitive data available to each other and thus improve collaboration along the value chain. The data can be used, for example, to create a digital twin as a “single source of truth” that maps the entire life cycle of a construction project from design and approval to execution planning, construction supervision, its operation, and subsequent deconstruction.
In addition, it is possible to first carry out and calculate planning, expansions or conversions virtually before they are implemented in real buildings. Furthermore, intelligent predictions can be made on the basis of the recorded data. This also saves time and money for future projects.
“The Gaia-X project iECO is groundbreaking for the construction industry, and we as A1 Digital are proud to be able to contribute here as a consortium partner, with our cloud – as well as IoT and analytics – know-how,” said Francis Cepero, director of vertical market solutions at A1 Digital.
A1 Digital project delivery manager Korbinian Roehrl said: “We are ensuring a much tighter integration of operations in the construction industry. With the Digital Twin, the networking of key components on the construction site and the creation of a common data space, we are going far beyond existing processes and solutions. It is about the logical and necessary continuation of Building Information Modelling.
“In addition, it is no longer just the building that is considered, but all upstream and downstream processes and data, which can also be used for lean management and predictive maintenance, among other things,” he said.
The total cost of the iECO research project is around €20m. It is scheduled to run for 36 months and expected to be completed by the autumn of 2024.