Digital SMEs ready to offer technologies and skills needed for construction companies to join Industry 4.0

Today, the European DIGITAL SME Alliance and CNA have organised an event on the digitisation of the construction sector in the framework of SMAU, the main ICT trade fair in Italy. The event discussed on how to bridge the existing gap for construction SMEs to join industry 4.0.

Stagnating productivity has particularly affected the construction sector during the period of economic crisis. Digitisation gives players in the construction industry opportunities to improve their productivity. However, only 6% of construction companies make full use of digital planning tools today. “Construction is now seeing its own “digital revolution” – underlined Lutz Köppen from the European Commission – “Industry 4.0 and Building Information Modelling are concepts that are increasingly adopted by the actors in the construction value chain as they offer tools to deliver cost savings, productivity and operations efficiencies while improving the quality of infrastructure.”

The involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises is crucial to unleash the full potential of construction businesses. Eugenio Quintieri, Secretary General of the European Builders Confederation stressed on the numbers: “Small and medium-sized enterprises are responsible for 80% of the output in the construction industry. Achieving the objectives of Industry 4.0 in the field of construction inevitably depends on the involvement of these companies. Thus, it is necessary to promote the adoption of IT tools compatible with the building renovation market and to stimulate training programmes to guide all construction SMEs towards the digital transition.”

Fabio Massimo, Vice President of the European DIGITAL SME Alliance, pointed out that “digital industry companies are ready to offer the technologies and skills needed to transition to Industry 4.0. Several industrial sectors, supported by incentive policies, are investing in digital transformation. We believe that the construction sector in Italy as well as in Europe has great potential for renewal and that the market offers solutions more and more suited to the needs of SMEs operating in the industry.”

Furthermore, the recent developments in standardisation that are driving the fast shifts towards digitalisation in the European construction industry were discussed. In this sense, the role of CEN TC 442 on BIM was considered fundamental to put together national efforts and draft standards leading to the creation of a common framework for the digitisation of the construction sector.

The initiative paves the way for further cross exchange of practices and experts’ trainings involving other interested European, National and Regional SME organisations. The event was followed by a technical workshop, with SME Academy Avignon and CNA EU Affairs Office (represented by Mr. Claudio Cappellini), where participants focused on developing a European “SMEs friendly” joint strategy for the construction and digital sector.