The Relationship Between Innovation And Society

To innovate is to improve, it is to look for solutions to new demands, it is a concern inherent to the human being.

Construction Sector

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The active adjustment that the sector is suffering during the current crisis, due to the abundant existing supply (construction companies, engineering, etc.) and the limited amount of work, both public and private, can be an excellent excuse to look at any of the types of innovation that we have mentioned, the lifesaving that our companies need to survive; for that reason, historically, the moments of most significant change under construction coincide precisely with the end of periods of economic crisis like the one we are experiencing ... it seems that the need sharpens ingenuity.

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Innovate Is The Construction Sector Difficult, But Possible

In the construction sector, as in other business areas, innovation occurs thanks to the unstoppable development of our society. It is a kind of ecosystem that feeds on itself: the ambition to improve has a direct impact on the welfare and security of the community, and society, as it develops and benefits from it, is increasingly concerned that all its mechanisms are more efficient, encouraging and rewarding innovation. The evolution of society in general and of construction, in particular, is a reality, and change, its origin or one of its consequences.
With new products and new ways of building, new requirements are met (higher demands for quality, greater comfort, etc.), but proposals are also made that modify the habits of society.
In this social process that is innovation, all the agents of the sector, manufacturers, construction companies, engineering, technicians, etc. are involved, but their success is determined by the specific policies of Governments and Public Administrations, which from their position can and should promote innovation: innovation requires research, and agents are needed to evaluate change, for innovation to develop, and to guarantee innovative products and construction procedures.

Therefore, evaluating innovation, researching materials scientifically, has become a necessity for the development not only of construction but also of society itself.

Innovate In Times Of Crisis

The factors that most affect the construction sector and provide companies with the opportunity to innovate, in addition to new technologies are, above all, regulations and changes in the market. The enormous influence that the public sector has, since the State is the one that invests the most in construction, has traditionally caused an industry susceptible to economic changes: in periods of economic prosperity it has been the significant beneficiary, and whenever it has been produced a financial crisis in our country, has been much damaged.

It is a fact that, although innovation is an advantage for the entire construction sector and for society itself, the cost of innovating is only within reach of medium or large companies, and in situations of economic crisis as brutal as the current one. Only the most competitive companies can survive, not only by offering higher quality products but also because in these situations it is when more solvency is required.

Types Of Innovation

Innovation, in addition to the action of inventing, should be a continuous process, a permanent state of review of the product, application of new technologies, the solution of market problems or consideration of further improvements.

We talk about types of innovation when the following categories are established:

Changes in products (development of products with better benefits)

  • Innovations in the process (quality improvements, efficiency in the implementation)
  • Innovations in the production system (performance improvements, manufacturing and commissioning with new equipment)

Changes in the design (definition of the calculation model, etc.)

In general, the most significant innovations in construction occur with the first two categories, while innovation in production systems to improve production is aimed at improvements to obtain long-term results and change in design is less frequent. And between the first two cases, innovation is more common in the process, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), given that the change is on a smaller scale, while product innovation is more available to large companies. In any case, whatever the type of companies, entrepreneurs, to get involved successfully in change, must have knowledge and means, but it is also necessary, also, a plus of initiative, confidence, faith in their ideas and, of course, some luck …

Some entrepreneurs can demonstrate their interest in quality, by participating in the development of society, concerned about the environment, etc., but, in general terms, the primary objective of the manufacturer is to do business (make money) with the manufacture and the sale of your products. And during the deal, as in any sector, it has to face competition and thus, often out of sheer necessity, the main reasons that drive most manufacturers to investigate are derived from two primary goals: Competitiveness and reduction of costs

Be more competitive or develop appropriate cost reduction actions can be done both with effects on the product, for example, by modifying the composition to improve or facilitate the application or performance, as with activities on the manufacturing process, for example, replacing or upgrading the equipment, computerizing the tasks, or with actions in the execution, for example, optimizing the implementation procedures; but also with operations, not yet frequent enough in the structure of companies, such as after-sales service and customer service.

How Do You Innovate In Construction?

Trying to understand the evolution of innovation in the construction sector, assimilating it with the industrial area, where changes are consolidated at high speed, would be a big mistake since the construction has a series of peculiarities that make it much more complicated than great innovations are produced and that they are applied and standardized.

The primary objectives of innovation in construction are rarely the discovery of new materials (such as reinforced concrete or stainless steel); since products based on ancient technologies are used, the objectives of innovation are focused on the improvement of production or commissioning processes, whose growth over time requires more extended operations than in other sectors. 

And although it cannot be said that there is no innovation in construction, the truth is that the sector has innovated very little compared to other industrial areas (such as the automobile, or the aerospace). The one responsible for this is the extraordinary fragmentation of the sector. The construction sector is made up of an immense majority of tiny companies, with few employees: compared to the industry, construction is made up of a large number of developers, builders, designers, product manufacturers, etc. Today almost all manufacturers, or market their products around the world, or are small companies that manufacture products for local use, but all competing globally.

Unlike the industry, whose products are sold and purchased for direct use, materials and construction components are acquired to be subsequently integrated into the works through a process that requires a project and careful implementation and execution. They are the two phases of the innovation process: Creation or manufacture of the product and its introduction into the market, which, under construction, ends with the incorporation into the work.

The construction product, compared to the industrial product:

– It is designed for a particular use and in a specific work

– It requires the putting in work so that it can be considered a finished product.

– The agents (technicians, builders) frequently change in the works.

– It must have a very long lifespan, thinking that it is part of constructions that are expensive and from which, in general, a long lifespan is expected

– It has a considerable impact on the environment,

– It has very high connotations of responsibility (civil and criminal).