Increase supply chain digital adoption, the Willmott Dixon way

To boost digital adoption in your supply chain, understand their challenges, use visualisation and keep new technologies and processes as simple as possible: that was Willmott Dixon digital manager Andrew Gamblen’s message at the Digital Construction Summit 2020.

Speaking during the PlanRadar-sponsored webinar on communicating digital solutions to site teams, Gamblen said: "To successfully engage your supply chain in adopting new technology and processes, [first] you need to understand their challenges.

"[Then] visualisation is a great way to engage with them, whether with high quality renders, VR and AR.

"[And third] simple UX: it must be intuitive with minimal training necessary. The process should be simple, automated and flexible. First, make it simple; if you can’t make it simple, automate it as much as possible; one size may not fit all, so you need to enable flexibility across all processes."

In setting the context for the session, Gamblen noted: "We’re all acutely aware that construction is lagging behind other sectors, such as automotive and aviation, in adopting new technologies. For us to take advantage of [new technologies], we need to ensure that we all are working together to bring along those that are not on the digital transformation journey and provide them with all the support and help they need to ensure we can start working in a much better, more productive and more efficient way using the technology that is quite literally at our finger tips."

The blockers to adoption of new technology

He described the three blockers to engagement as:

  • people’s time – "when they’re busy, they revert back to what they know even if it’s a more cumbersome process";
  • an organisation’s culture – "this has a much larger influence than people realise; if the company actively promotes a growth mindset within its people, then those working for that organisation are more likely to engage with new technologies"; and
  • cumbersome technology and process – "it doesn’t matter how much time a person has or how much of a growth mindset that person or organisation has, if the technology is cumbersome and complicated and not very good, nobody will engage with that process".

Asked by a summit attendee, "is it just received wisdom that site teams are not sufficiently tech-engaged?", Gamblen answered: "It’s not the vast majority of site teams aren’t tech-engaged – they want to use tech where they can, but there are too many external pressures preventing them from being able to really try and use new technology. Take point cloud scanning for example: construction teams all love the idea of it, the difficulty is the time it takes to conduct them and process them – it’s not as quick as a guy standing outside with an EDM doing survey and QA checks."

Another panellist, Anthony Shaw, aftercare manager at WRW Construction, added: "I see it first hand. It’s not a case of us not wanting to adapt – we need to adapt – I think we’ve passed that little bit of agitation of the older generation now because of the likes of Facebook, and everyone’s got smart phones and mobile devices. It’s case of educating people about how helpful new platforms are – but they’re only as good as the data we put in."

Nick Marsh, country manager UK of PlanRadar, concluded: "In the last year and a half, I’ve seen a sea change in people being more open to software on site. Rather than reactionary, they’re at least interested enough to try it; it’s moving in appositive direction. The lesson I’ve learned is keep things simple, don’t overcomplicate them – if you throw too much at them at once, they’ll struggle. Make the process easy with a quick result: that’s where success will come. They’ve got to find it easy as opposed to a burden."

Watch the webinar on demand:

Image: 168798971 © Iurii Motov |

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