A Breakthrough in Construction Material Procurement
Thanks to rapid advancements in technology, if we have either a mobile phone or a computer, we can learn what is happening in the world without leaving home, which has consequently led to the rise and development of e-Commerce.
This trend not only explains the potential of “zero-touch” businesses, but also reflects the reliance of people on technology and the internet. Such reliance and the potential of e-Commerce have been adopted, transformed and reformed by many traditional industries, whereby they can take on a new look and embrace the business opportunities in the new era.
One example is the construction industry, a well-established yet traditional industry in Hong Kong.
Shift to electronic material procurement process to enhance construction efficiency
The construction industry has been most criticized for its over-reliance on labour. In the construction industry, as a traditional industry, a huge number of works are performed offline and rely on physical labour and paper-based records, which result in complicated steps and can easily cause errors in information. In the current era of big data analysis, this operations model provides inadequate support, especially for the procurement of construction materials.
Mr. Lam Wai Hung, Roy, the person-in-charge of Mattex Asia Development Limited (“Mattex Asia”), a member company of Asia Allied Infrastructure Holdings Limited (stock code 00711.HK), said that, traditionally, the procurement and management of construction materials has been performed offline. However, there has always been missing or incomplete information. Moreover, the traditional procurement process is complicated and uses telephone and email as the means of communication. This wastes considerable time on communicating back and forth, from price quotation to order confirmation.
The procurement of construction material is a critical part of construction. It is a factor that not only directly affects the construction costs, but also the selection and quantity of materials are of very high reference value. In light of this, Roy and other staff members of the Company have begun developing a one-stop construction material procurement and management platform – eMat, with the aim of promoting electronic procurement of materials via an advanced transaction management system to save construction costs, improve efficiency and, ultimately, facilitate the development of the industry.
Mattext Asia’s eMAT platform provides customized advice through data computing
eMAT is a construction material procurement and management platform developed by Mattex Asia. It can monitor the whole material procurement process and record the entire ordering process as well as the quantity and use of materials. The users can understand the latest status of material management through accessing the platform. The whole transaction, from ordering to delivery, can be completed on the platform, thereby achieving significantly higher transparency and greater convenience. Roy added, “Most importantly, eMAT can facilitate the communication between contractors and suppliers.”
Furthermore, eMAT can also help customers to identify the materials required by their projects and thus can provide data of every single project for their reference. Roy said, “e-MAT records customers’ order information. Through data analysis, it can identify the materials required for each project and forecast the quantity of materials needed, and then provide customized advice to customers in terms of material ordering. The platform also reminds customers when they need to order materials to avoid project delays.” At present, all data information is recorded and analyzed in order to monitor the material price movement and transportation time, so that customers can effectively set the future project direction and schedule.
Industry pioneers to lead the industry reform
Currently, eMAT is providing services to dozens of users, including Chun Wo Construction. Roy said, “The material procurement in the industry has been performing in a very traditional way. Everyone is already used to the existing pattern. Hence, it is not easy to change the whole procurement process. However, a pioneer is needed to take the lead in the reform, and Mattex Asia is that pioneer.” To promote the widespread use of the system, Mattex Asia has developed a mobile APP which allows customers to quickly access information. Even though customers may be in different places, by turning on their mobile phone, all the information can be clearly viewed, enabling them to track orders easily and avoid duplicate orders of materials.
Focus on artificial intelligence (AI) to further strengthen material management system in the future
Amidst the currents of digitalization and the intelligent era, corporations must keep on making progress or they will lag behind. In the future, Mattex Asia will step up efforts to promote its online construction material purchasing platform and the widespread use of this service, so as to improve the material procurement process of the entire construction industry. Meanwhile, Mattex Asia will also continue to allocate more resources on the technology development. It will research the application of AI to analyze the past data in a bid to improve the efficiency of material management, reduce wastage, lower costs and minimize the harm to the environment.