ALEC signals commitment to advancing digitalisation of UAE construction sector


Looking to cement its position as an industry innovator, ALEC, a part of the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), has set out an ambitious strategy to accelerate the ongoing digitisation of its operations. In line with this objective, the company today announced the appointment of Andy Boutle as its Head of Digital Construction. In this newly created role, Boutle will focus on the digitisation of the entire value chain for projects undertaken by ALEC, with an emphasis on increasing workflow communication and vertical efficiencies.

Analysis by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) found investing in technology and innovation to be one of the key factors in boosting the construction sector’s productivity by up to 60 percent. But while digital technologies — ranging from Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Augmented/Virtual Reality, to robotics, drones, and cloud software — are heralding a new era of possibilities and efficiencies for the global construction sector, there has generally been a lag in adoption of these technologies in the region.

“While the pandemic has certainly been a catalyst of transformation, there is still a long road ahead for the digitalisation of the sector. The benefits — ranging from improving quality and safety, to reducing costs and project timelines, and increasing profits — are abundantly clear. But there remains trepidation in the region largely due to the steep learning curve and challenges around integration between systems, and deciding what investments will yield maximum positive impact. As a leader in the sector, ALEC has successfully leveraged the latest technologies on several projects and believe it is now time to double down on these digital investments. In doing so, we will inevitability promote technology adoption among our customers and partners, leading to a digital-first mindset across the industry that advances the sector towards greater efficiency, quality, and sustainability,” said Kez Taylor, CEO at ALEC.

ALEC’s commitment to innovation is evidenced in the advanced technologies it leverages in its projects such as the One Za’abeel mixed-used luxury development in Dubai. For this iconic undertaking, the company implemented 72 new digital initiatives including the use of 3D printing, AI-based time and attendance recording, robotic drilling, digital material and asset management, and HoloBuilder, a 360-degree imaging software creating a comprehensive photographic database for every area on the project. As it advocates the digitalisation of the UAE’s construction sector, ALEC is looking to ensure such technologies are utilised on an increasing number of developments.

With Boutle onboard, ALEC has already initiated the process of achieving the BSI Kitemark ISO 19650 certification for information management using BIM. The company is also currently deploying a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that will digitalise its processes to enhance business intelligence through analytics and reporting.

“ALEC’s increasing focus on digital transformation in recent years is making our operations more productive, efficient, sustainable, and accurate, whilst reducing risk and resource wastage. This translates to an improved level of service and quality of product for our customers. In parallel, our partners are benefitting from the streamlining of collaborative processes made possibly by our expertly integrated systems,” said Boutle. “We also recognise that the challenges faced by the construction sector as a whole – skills and labour shortages, productivity issues, attitudes towards change, outdated procurement models and more – have the potential to be addressed by industry-wide digital transformation. However, they cannot be solved overnight or independently by a single organisation. ALEC is therefore committed to collaborating with key industry stakeholders to increase the overall maturity of the market and promote the drive towards interoperability and standardisation, both of which are critical to the transformation of the sector.”

With over twenty years industry experience, Boutle has worked in various engineering and management roles for both consultants and contractors with a more recent specialisation in BIM. As the former Head of BIM – Construction Division at the Kier Group, Boutle played a leading role in driving positive industry change, while co-authoring several strategies including “Digital by Default”, the Kier Group’s Digital Vision. Boutle has also served as the Engagement Co-Lead and Executive Team – UK BIM Alliance, where he helped provide independent leadership and support to the UK’s built environment for the adoption of BIM across the industry.

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