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Folkert Haag recently wrote a great article on the top 6 innovations that Building Materials companies should consider to drive competitiveness and efficiency.  See the highlights below and a link to the article:



The building materials industries are in transition.


This includes Cement, Concrete, Bricks and Tiles, Flat Glass, Windows/Doors, Insulation, Roofing, Flooring Materials


The recent years of recession and belt tightening has now given way to growth in many areas.  There are clear indicators that demand is picking up. The US census bureau announced that privately owned housing starts were up by 9% over last year and building permits were up 6% over last year.  On the profit side, energy on the other hand is a big cost factor to manufacture many building products. The lower energy prices enable companies to pave the way for improved profit margins - and perhaps - even invest in innovation.


In a recent survey of CEOs and senior business executives, Gartner, Inc. found that after business growth, investing in technology was the most important business priority for 2015 and 2016. Areas specifically mentioned were revenue- and growth-related technology issues such as multichannel, e-commerce and m-commerce. Interestingly, while many other industries seem to understand the crucial role IT plays in supporting long-term business strategies, construction and building materials companies traditionally have been slow to invest in new technology solutions. 


  1. Connected Manufacturing – The Internet of Things. With embedded sensors in virtually every asset, companies can achieve a real-time view and understanding of all their machinery. When production line equipment data is connected to an enterprise system, manufacturers can see results as they happen. This provides unprecedented insight into production costs and allows for adjustments to be made to keep costs low.  Imagine being able to gather information from every piece of equipment and with full visibility into which manufacturing line is providing a higher yield than the rest and why. Monitoring equipment performance also allows manufacturers to predict the quality of the resulting product and adjust the selling strategy based on predetermined standards.

  2. Supply chain network - In addition to visibility and transparency on the production floor, IT systems can provide important insights into the logistics network and supply chain. Using embedded ID tags or on-board devices to track transportation and warehouse activity, companies can see in real-time when raw materials and components arrive, make adjusts to the production schedule, and then update the end-customer with an accurate shipping date and time.

  3. Predictive Maintenance - When a machine fails, companies lose money. In some cases, such as when a cement kiln that operates non-stop 365 days a year, goes down unexpectedly, the entire plant ceases operations. However, with the right technology, building and construction material manufacturers can take control of their maintenance processes. Almost all machinery is already equipped with interfaces or sensors that produce reliable information about its condition. By listening to real-time sensor data, companies can be alerted immediately when a machine or part may soon be in need of repairs. Companies also can use historical data, forward forecasts, and advanced algorithms, to predict service needs. This allows them to perform proactive, preventative maintenance at a fraction of the cost.  In addition to savings from reductions in unplanned outages, companies can coordinate
    maintenance more efficiently. This is important for companies operating in remote locations because they are better able to plan to get specialists and
    parts to these locations.

  4. Ecommerce channel – Technology is providing a new distribution channel and access to a larger customer base for many manufacturers. Companies are using e-commerce more and to sell directly to consumers and provide real time product pricing and availability. The benefit is not only additional revenue, but also greater customer engagement and a unified selling approach with consistency throughout all channels.

  5. Data Analytics – Benchmarking technology provides real-time information on all aspects of the business, from orders to equipment status to product quality, and compares them to industry benchmarks as well as to multiple sites or plants within the same parent company. Companies gain instant visibility into how their sites are performing against each other – not just in North America but across multiple country locations – through a dashboard of key performance indicators. In this way, it is possible to standardize processes and implement best practices that drive costs down and safety up.

  6. Regulatory Compliance – As with most other manufacturing industries, construction and building materials industries are highly regulated. Many of the compliance standards focus on the end-product. However, safety standards both within a manufacturing facility and out in the field, such as at a resource quarry or construction site, are also extremely important, yet complex. Technology solutions capable of capturing data from equipment sensors and processing it in real-time helps to minimize incidents and keep workers safe. One example, is a unique crane collision waning system, which uses sensors to coordinate the activities of multiple cranes on a construction site. If one crane ventures into a danger zone, the system automatically sends a warning system to prevent a collision.


We would love to hear more ideas on "must do" IT innovations for Building Materials...


See link for full article in North American Builders Magazine


Data-driven IT solutions manufacturers  must use