Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the construction sector urgently need to overcome the following challenges:
- Fast, active and efficient shaping of the digital transformation.
- Comprehensive realization of cooperation across different organizations at all stages of the construction process.
- Attracting the urgently needed, appropriately qualified next generation of skilled workers and entrepreneurs.
The demand for good apartments and houses has rarely been as high as it is now, and yet there is far too little affordable housing available. Hence, significant increases in
efficiency and acceleration of construction planning and execution are much needed in the construction industry.
Construction projects can be carried out more efficiently through the application of targeted digital tools. In fact, around 30% of planning capacities can be saved this way. In addition, digital technologies make the identification of risks in the construction possible at an early stage so that they can be avoided. When building one- and two-family houses, up to 25% of the total construction costs go to coordination work, which can be reduced to a very large extent through selfcoordination using digital tools. Since the construction industry is characterized by a highly specialized division of labor, coordination errors can quickly occur, which often result in inferior quality and delays. Furthermore, energy and environmental aspects are often not given enough attention during new constructions and reconstructions.
With the help of digital technologies, building owners, architects, engineers and craftsmen can plan together easily, increase the quality and ensure the adherence to deadlines. Moreover, new technologies make it possible to determine the energy costs of a building at an early stage and to eliminate risks or hidden costs. Individual priorities can be placed on technical features or environmental aspects. Although digital technologies and tools are already being tested and used in practice, the overall digitalization in the construction sector is only advancing very slowly. Compared to other countries (e.g. the Netherlands, Denmark or Finland), Germany has a lot of catching up to do. SMEs in the construction and finishing trades, which are very active in the construction of one, two and smaller multi-family houses are particularly hesitant when it comes to using new digital tools and are therefore the focus of the project.
The shortage of skilled workers is particularly severe in the construction industry. The attractiveness for vocational training and construction activities is clearly suffering from the high specialization, physically difficult work, heteronomy, etc. The targeted use of digital technologies can reverse these barriers and lead to decisive increases in attractiveness. Large companies and general contractors in the construction industry often use their own digital systems, which they impose on their SME subcontractors, making them dependent and completely transparent. This leads to the rejection of digitalization in SMEs.
There is a lack of SMEspecific advisory and training programs on digitalization in the construction and finishing trades. Both the owners and the employees of the SMEs have a high need for information, advice and further training. Support capacities must be expanded and teachers and consultants of SMEs must be prepared and trained in a targeted manner in order to be able to convey SMEs and their employees the use of digital technologies.
The SME-specific training courses should highlight the intersections and interdependencies between the various trades and actors through transparent interfaces, in order to promote the need for cooperation and the use of digital technologies.