What the property and construction industries can learn from car manufacturing to disrupt the supply chain

11 Aug 2021

It’s a parallel that gets drawn quite often - the built world vs. the car world. In our latest Autonomous Now webinar, Daryl Patterson, Chief Product Officer & Head of Architecture, Lendlease Digital, shares some key insights and explores how the built world can learn a lesson or two from car manufacturing.


Watch the full webinar: Autonomous Now: What the Built World Can Learn from Car Manufacturing

It’s a parallel that gets drawn quite often - the built world vs. the car world.

When it comes to designing autonomous buildings and fuelling momentum, the property and construction industries can learn a lot from the car manufacturing world.

In fact, the car manufacturing industry is the main driver of automation, the front runner in manufacturing techniques, and the leaders in driving high levels of productivity.

In our latest Autonomous Now webinar, Daryl Patterson, Chief Product Officer & Head of Architecture, Lendlease Digital, shares some key insights and explores how the built world can learn a lesson or two. “The first question for me is, ‘Why is it so important to take something from the car industry, and what is it they’re doing that’s so good?’

“The car was invented in 1880s. By 1914, Henry Ford had come up with the assembly line, and from there, we’ve seen unlimited improvement in every aspect. It’s an amazing product compared to what it was even 50 years ago. It’s more economical, laden with features and reliable.”

Innovation in the property and construction industries have been minimal over the last 100 years.

“Buildings are becoming more expensive, we see quality issues, we still have safety challenges, and there’s a big issue of affordability around the world. So hence the rationale to see if we can borrow thinking from the automotive industry.”

One important lesson to borrow from car manufacturing is its use of an ‘industrial’ model.

“The car industry has industrialised the process of designing and producing cars. When we compare that to our industry, we’re a huge industry, but we’re not actually industrialised. This means we don’t have the processes, the investment and the production.

“We don’t have a core product. We have a series of bespoke outcomes. And unlike the car industry, we haven’t invested time into creating a product that we can then tool up, and then manufacture.”

Complexity is the real killer in the construction realm. “You might need to adjust your car to different markets. You might need a steering wheel on the other side, or meet different safety or emission standards. But more or less, you can make a product that can be used anywhere.”

It’s not as easy in property and construction. “Different shaped parcels of land is the starting problem, and then we’ve got local regulations, local climate with different soil conditions, and styles and tastes that different markets expect. And the further you go, the more you see this kind of variance in expectations. So what would make a great apartment in Sydney wouldn’t work in Sweden, for example, and vice versa.”

So, what’s the answer? The industry needs to create productised solutions.

“How do we get to a productisation of design, while acknowledging that these products will end up in really different places with very different specific local context?”

To catch more of Daryl’s practical insights and answers to some of our industry’s most complex problems, watch the full webinar on-demand: Autonomous Now: What the Built World Can Learn from Car Manufacturing.