The construction industry is challenged to make its processes more efficient. For many years, the Green Building Cluster of Lower Austria has been pursuing the vision of adapting methods that have proven to increase productivity in other industrial sectors to the special requirements of the construction industry with its many small, trade companies, thus increasing their competitiveness.
There are various tools that can be used to achieve this vision. The Cluster began in its early days (2001) to familiarize companies from the industry with methods such as the “Continuous Improvement Process” and “Lean Management”. In cooperation and qualification projects, many companies were able to learn together and acquire skills that helped them to improve their work processes. “Lean Construction” transfers these ideas to the cross-trade cooperation of numerous companies on the construction site.
Digital technologies have also opened up new opportunities in recent years. This begins with the digitization of internal processes and extends to the use of “Virtual Reality” and “Augmented Reality” in the planning and construction process. Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools have made it possible to create a fully digital image of a building. This makes it easier for those involved in the construction process to network with each other across all the construction phases and trade boundaries and to plan and execute a construction project with greater efficiency, precision and transparency.
In recent years, numerous building blocks have already been implemented that follow this vision:
- With the “BIM@KMU” initiative, the Cluster was one of the first in Austria to bring “Building Information Modeling” closer to planners and contracting companies and to support building material and component manufacturers in making their product range BIM-compatible.
- An initiative started by the Cluster aims to explore the potential of “Virtual Reality” and “Augmented Reality” in the construction sector.
- “Where do we start with digitization?” is the central question of SMEs that still have a low level of “digital readiness”. The “Kickstart Digitalization” program helps companies get started with digitization.
- As part of the “Initiative Lean Construction”, companies learn to use the principles of “Lean Management” both in their own company and on the construction site, thereby increasing productivity.
The network of the Green Building Cluster of Lower Austria in this area includes the Lower Austrian “House of Digitization”, the platform “Digital Finds City”, experts and companies specializing in Lean Management, digitization and BIM as well as many industry participants who are open for digital innovations.
The implementation of the vision is currently facing major challenges: Many small and medium-sized companies still work traditionally and do not yet take advantage of the digital tools available. The decision to use new technologies often represents an inhibition threshold that must first be overcome. However, the next generation in many companies increasingly sees digitization as an opportunity to preserve the advantages of the small business landscape. The Cluster can support the introduction to digital working methods with suitable, low-threshold project formats and thus reduce the inhibition threshold.