Innovation Day 2018 at FNTP (Paris), Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Innovation Day 2018 at FNTP mainly focused on two aspects: The first part questioned the role and the added value of innovation and digital technologies for contractors and their workers on the field. In this context the integration of given digital technologies within construction companies were discussed from the perspective of representatives of different construction companies. In a second part, the different round tables discussed how innovative infrastructure can serve mankind as a whole. The role of Artificial Intelligence and the impact of new technologies on the ecological transition were discussed.

  1. First part: Innovation at the service of the contractor on the field

1st round table: Technology helps the contractor on the field
Speakers: Michel AROICHANE (Sixense), Jean-Michel BORDES (Eiffage), Michel PONCELET (Colas), Didier THEVENARD (Eurovia)

According to the speakers, the project site of tomorrow will be:
– Executed by 3D printing
– Connected
– Secure (digitalize security measures)
– acceptable

All the technical devices are already given. The problem lies in the assembling of all these technical and digital devices. Integration time is needed.
The adaptation to new technologies is easier for humankind, or the construction worker himself than it is for the enterprises. Enterprises need more time to adapt. Besides, the deployment of a new technology is always associated with risks. Enterprises have to be very careful in which technology they invest. Another risk was mentioned regarding the new digital equipment for site works (connected helmet, glasses). The question aroused whether this new digital equipment could generate health risks for workers on site.

The question aroused about the strategy of the respective enterprises on how to integrate new digital technologies. It was made clear that generally speaking, the construction enterprises are in the phase of deployment of new technologies. However, the economic model in order to integrate these technologies has not been found yet. The different technical elements are there but the question on how to integrate them remains open. Adaptability was mentioned as key factor to accelerate the integration of new technologies in construction companies.

It was stressed that humans have to learn how to domesticate new technologies. The role and relevance of humankind in the world of new technologies and automatization was estimated as crucial point. It was emphasized that technology should be there to assist the human and alleviate work rather than replace the humans/workers.

2nd round table: Will technology make the contractor obsolete on the field?
Speakers: Sabri BAYOUDH (Société Arcure), Nicolas BRAUD (Bouygues TP), Richard LANGLET (FNTP)

The second round table mainly focused on the fact that new technologies will assist rather than replace humankind. The utility of new technologies lies in alleviating work. New technologies will on the one hand help to reduce the arduousness and costs of work. On the other hand, advanced data collection will permit workers to take better and faster decisions. New technologies and the collection of data will serve as a tool to ease decision-making processes. In this context the word “co-botic” was used which basically depicts the collaboration between humans and robots.

A special emphasis was put on training programs in the construction sector in the era of new technologies. The aspect of adaptability and mobility of the trainees is essential in conceiving new training programs. New technologies also represent a way to attract more people ready to work in construction. Another rather critical aspect pointed to the fact, that trainee programs would also become obsolete with the accelerating deployment of artificial intelligence and automatization. It was mentioned that the focus of trainee programs shall lie on behavioral skills and mediation.

It was made clear that the appropriation of new technologies on the project site of most of the construction companies is a very slow and diffuse process. The problem is that most of the companies bet on confirmed technologies rather than testing new and more digitalized technologies. The construction sector needs a generalization of innovation.


2. Second part: Innovative infrastructure at the service of mankind

3rd round table: Rethinking the role of infrastructure
Speakers: André BROTO (ASFA), Pascal de LAURENS (SETVF), Olivier BANCEL (SNCF Réseau), Dominique RITZ (VNF)

The role of new technologies is particularly essential for the good maintenance of infrastructure. The main obstacle to the full deployment of new technologies for a better operation and maintenance of infrastructure is a funding problem.
The use of digital technology in infrastructure permits however to enhance maintenance and most importantly resilience. Failures and breakdowns must become unacceptable.
Besides, before inventing new infrastructure projects, one has to focus on the deficient existing infrastructure by using digital technology to better maintain it. However, it was pointed that digital technology up to today is not able to predict accidents. The example of the Genoa Bridge was mentioned in this context. New digital technologies and its predicting tools wouldn’t have avoided its collapse.

Another topic concerned the rise of new private service providers such as Uber, Citymapper, Waze etc. that were able to offer an alternative to public and State-driven infrastructure by linking and coordinating different people and their needs. The evolution of user needs will inevitably lead to a rethinking of (public) infrastructure services.

4th round table: Infrastructure at the service of the ecological transition
Speakers: Ivan DROUADAINE (Eurovia), Hervé DUMONT (Eiffage infrastructure), Valéry FERBER (Charier), Yann LEFEUVRE (Colas)

The main focus lied on the reuse of resources in order to reduce the impact of construction activities on the environment. The publication of a Vademecum of innovation by IDRRIM (Institut des routes, des rues et des infrastructures pour la mobilité) was mentioned. It is a guide for contractors in the field of innovations in infrastructure project (mobility etc.).

5th round table: Data and artificial intelligence (AI) in public works
Speakers: Guillaume MALOCHET (Routes de France), Muriel de VERICOURT (IT Industrie & Technologies), Vincent HOLLEY (Commission Innovation – Association des Centraliens), Xavier Neuschwander (FNTP)

The major issue on artificial intelligence (AI) is about data collection. Artificial intelligence only makes sense if it has enough data to make reliable predictions. Although AI is able to automatize processes and learn by itself, the rise of productivity is not an end in itself. AI is about helping workers to take better and more precise decisions. Up to today AI doesn’t have enough data to make precise predictions in most of the fields because data is missing.

The deployment of AI can be hindered by mainly three aspects:
1. Fear towards AI which hinders the systematization of AI
2. Brain drain: The main young graduates and data scientist move to the US
3. Lack of data and lack of data quality and operability

An argument focused on the necessity for enterprises to integrate AI within their companies. AI would be a crucial investment. Not investing in it could have negative consequences in the long-term. The most important success factor for a good integration and deployment of AI is an adequate corporate culture (e.g. Intrapreneurs).


Presentation of different startups working on digital platforms in construction
Dispatcher: “Simplified and paperless construction operations”
Field Wire: “Field management software for construction teams”
IBAT: “Double your margin, diminish your costs”
Matos BTP: “Optimize construction activities”
ZEST: Box for electricity and water provision (international focus)