Building sector turns to online data service

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 12:00am

The mainland's booming construction industry is fuelling fresh demand for web-based collaboration and data management services, industry experts say.

'With so many large-scale developments under way in Greater China, systems that can track all documentation and improve collaboration with international consultants are generating plenty of interest in the construction community,' said Leigh Jasper, chief executive at online information management specialist Aconex.

Mr Jasper said Aconex, a privately held Australian firm he helped found in 2000, has only started to scratch the surface of this market, which remains largely dependent on inefficient, paper-based processes.

The mainland has the world's fastest growing construction industry, according to consulting firm Business International. It said that this sector, which grew more than 8 per cent in 2003 to US$441.3 billion, would experience increased development because of the expanding economy, foreign investments, the 2008 Olympic Games, changing laws, privatisation and industry liberalisation under the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Jasper said the construction and property industries were beginning to realise the benefits of streamlined online information exchange.

'Our experience at Aconex is that once companies take on online information management for a particular project they go on to implement the system across all their projects and bring all their collaborating partners with them,' he said.

Web-based collaboration services from Aconex are delivered on a subscription basis. Markets such as Hong Kong and Australia, where broadband internet penetration is deep, enable these services to thrive.

The typical setup calls for a firm's project details to be accessed via a single secure login on the internet. This means a user can view data - everything from building plans and audit reports to faxes and e-mails - from any location on any project at any time. A project manager would get a bird's eye view of how work is progressing, with a history log of all projects and knowledge of who has updated what and when.

Worldwide, more than 20,000 companies use Aconex on projects with a combined value of about US$30 billion. Aconex is being used on construction work at an estimated US$6 billion development project of client Venetia Cotai in Macau, which includes several hotel-casinos, a huge mall and convention centre. Builders include Hsin Chong and Gammon.

Aconex is also involved in the expansion of Dubai International Airport, enabling project managers in Hong Kong - led by construction firm Linkforce - to collaborate with design consultants in Manila and with consortium partners in Dubai, Thermo LLC, Arinc, and Alcatel.