Scotland construction 'lacks data' on spends and bids
Scotland's construction sector lacks data on public sector spending and tender bids which is hindering improvement in processes in a bepsoke era, according to the Reimagining Scotland’s Construction Industry - 2021 report.
While improvements around the use of data and tech are still needed, the report highlights that the industry seems cautiously optimistic that the rising tide of awareness on environmental, social and governance considerations - coupled with sustainable construction needs triggered by net zero targets - has the potential to spur the construction sector’s own green industrial revolution.
“Appetite from private and public sector clients tendering new projects is heavily geared towards supporting the push to meet national net zero targets, and this presents a golden opportunity for the sector to seize and drive forward a more sustainable agenda," said Anne Struckmeier, Construction a nd Engineering Partner at Addleshaw Goddard.
Barriers to delivering a more modern construction sector also remain high because of the political uncertainty surrounding Scottish independence and future relationship with Europe, the report states.
The survey, conducted among 43 firms in the sector, found that in the coming six months respondents were generally positive about their expectations across several indicators, including turnover and employment levels. Findings also suggested that expected capacity is more positive than Scotland’s economy as a whole, and also highlighted that:
- On average, firms expected to operate between 76-99% of normal capacity, with only 10% of businesses expected to fall below 50% of normal capacity
- Only 6% of businesses in the construction sector expressed that it was unlikely they would survive over the next 6 months, with 82% reporting that it was somewhat or very likely that they would survive
- While 74% of business reported their cashflow positions were secure or very secure, just over 1 in 5 reported that their cashflow positions were insecure
- 42% of business said the level of government support has been sufficient or very sufficient, this was a slightly higher share of those who felt support was sufficient than Scotland as a whole (38.5%)
- 34% of businesses expressed that the level of government support for their business was somewhat or very insufficient for their survival, which was lower than the Scottish average (41%)
SafeAI attracts $21m funding as SmartMix AI tool launches
SafeAI is driving the transformation of the mining and construction industries through connected, autonomous sites. With chronic labour shortages, unsafe working conditions and frequent project delays, these industries are in a unique position to benefit from autonomy.
Unlike on-road applications of the technology, autonomous heavy equipment operates in controlled environments, which means companies can create smarter, safer, more productive project sites today that create meaningful, near-term impact.
“We are at a tipping point for autonomous heavy equipment,” said Bibhrajit Halder, founder and CEO at SafeAI. “We’ve proven that autonomy makes work sites significantly safer and more productive; now, we are on the cusp of mass adoption. Together with our valued partners, customers and investors, we’re poised to deploy autonomy in off-road industries like construction and mining, at scale, to rethink the way heavy industry operates.”
Heavy industry is a large, growing global market, ripe for disruption. The construction equipment market alone is valued at $140 billion, and expected to increase to $175 billion by 2025; construction-related spending accounts for a staggering 13% of global GDP, or $11.5 trillion.
But there remains significant room for growth; in construction alone, higher productivity could create an estimated $1.6 trillion in additional value. With just 25% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 in existence today, autonomy can bridge this productivity gap with greater efficiency and 24/7 operations. SafeAI is at the forefront of this transformation.
“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in the autonomy space today; but it’s clear the biggest opportunity for this technology is off-road,” said Mark Blackwell, General Partner at Builders VC. “With its industry-leading autonomous software, scalable retrofit approach and partner ecosystem, SafeAI is uniquely poised to capitalize on this opportunity. We’re proud to support the company in its next chapter of growth as demand for autonomous heavy equipment continues to skyrocket.”
New investors LTC, DG Ventures, MACA and Vimson Group, and existing investors Autotech Ventures, Brick and Mortar Ventures, Embark Ventures, Monta Vista Capital and Obayashi Corporation, also participated in the round. The funding comes on the heels of a year of rapid growth for SafeAI, including new partnerships with Obayashi, Goodyear and Macnica, and expansion into Australia’s booming mining market.
A pilot program with Obayashi Corporation last November saw a Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck autonomously complete a vital on-site function and carry out load-haul-dump cycles.
Giatec debuts SmartMix AI tool
Giatec has debuted what it claims is the world's first concrete AI tool for producers, SmartMix. The web-based AI tool allows producers to optimise concrete ingredient proportions, reduce cement usage, and predict the performance of their mixes while still meeting project specifications.
Giatec believes this tool will lower Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from concrete production by 400 million tons annually, the equivalent of taking 110 million cars off the road.
SmartMix builds on Giatec's first AI software program Roxi, which has collected millions of data points from the company's SmartRock wireless concrete sensors across 8,000 projects and 80 countries.
Giatec's head of research and development, Andrew Fahim, said the new technologies are going to pave the path forward for the industry to meet increasing infrastructure demands.