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Friday 25 March 2022

*UKHotViewsExtra* Arup targets digital growth

ArupArup will be familiar to many readers as a major player in the UK construction industry associated with some of the most complex and iconic developments of recent years – think Heathrow Terminal 5, the Sydney Opera House or HS2, for which the firm typically leads the engineering design. However, Arup is not necessarily the most obvious organisation you immediately associate with software and IT Services (SITS), but like so many other leaders in their fields it’s increasingly becoming a technology-led business. This is particularly true in the digital space where Arup provides a complementary set of services to the same customers that it designs bridges, tunnels, and buildings for. TMV caught up recently with David Moran, Arup’s Digital strategy and transformation leader and Alan Newbold, the firm’s Regional digital services lead, to understand more about the company’s digital ambitions.

Building on its own transformation

The construction industry overall is a “digital laggard” where planning, designing, building and operating infrastructure assets are typically very siloed across different organisations. Broadly, consultants like Arup undertake the engineering design, specify the project, and then hand over to a contractor who goes on to build it. Different organisations involved with different responsibilities but working from the same designs. Historically, this was all done manually with paper-based drawings derived from CAD, updated by multiple parties as things inevitably changed during a project. To improve this process, Arup has been working through its own transformation looking to digitise pretty much everything that they do and where all its projects are now digitally driven from the design process onwards.

This has seen Arup become both an early digital adopter within the construction sector and a big consumer itself of digital technologies in recent years. For example, Arup is using data platforms to optimise route planning for highways and railways, and BIM (Building Information Modelling) as standard to drive cross-silo collaboration in buildings and infrastructure projects. This position as an early adopter has given the firm good insight into what works digitally and what doesn’t, and how to automate in the most effective way to support higher quality and better project outcomes.

Consequently, Arup has built up a strong in-house digital capability that employs some 3,000 practitioners globally across digital consultants, IT architects, analysts, project managers, software developers, data scientists and visualisation experts, of which they have 150 consultants working on client-facing digital advisory engagements. To put this in context Arup’s entire global workforce is 16,000 strong so a significant portion are “digital”. This is already contributing some £60m in Global fee income from its digital propositions.

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Posted by Marc Hardwick at '08:13' - Tagged: construction   engineering   design