During January 2018, the GLCM team traveled to Bangkok, Thailand to explore and develop insight into the local construction market. The group of 10 Master's students and Professor Ibrahim Odeh conversed with a variety of different organizations including Chulalongkorn University, Turner Construction, ItalianThai, McKinsey, AECOM, Black & Veatch, and WSP.
GLCM team with Turner Construction
The team began their visit to Thailand by attending a presentation at Chulalongkorn University on the advances and uses of construction technology, such as 3D modeling, drone technology, and laser scanning. They also discussed Large scale publicly funded infrastructure projects including Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Railway Project (outside of Bangkok), High-Speed Pan-Asia Railway Network, Airport 2nd Terminal Construction Project, Motorway Project, and The Eastern Economic Corridor Project (Silk Road).
After the university visit, the students proceeded to a nearby site to witness local construction implementation strategies and practices. They learned about the difficult soil conditions in the city, the emphasis placed on safety, and the adoption of Lean Construction.
The next day, the team met with the Country Manager of Turner Construction, William Howell. They visited the Mahanakhon Tower Building to learn about the unique requirements of high-rise buildings required by top-tier real estate construction.
The students later met with executives from ItalianThai, the largest contractor in Thailand. They had an engaging dialogue about the financial and political stability of the market, the government’s role in infrastructure projects, the market’s profit margins, the influence of Chinese competition, local and foreign labor, and culture play an important role in shaping the interaction between stakeholders and the execution of projects.
Meeting with ItalianThai
The following day students met with a McKinsey Senior Partner. He explained the benefits of working with emerging markets such as high-profit margins, but also identified challenges facing the industry - mainly a shortage in labor and a lag in integrating digitization and automation into the industry.
The trip also included a meeting with AECOM and site visits with Black & Veatch and WSP. The power stations and WSP Sky Train project were both great learning experiences for the students that exposed them to several specialized systems and taught them about the importance of standardizing and implementing safety and quality.
After returning from the trip, the students worked towards developing a comprehensive market analysis report of the construction industry in the GCC region during the course of their spring semester.