How will Design and Collaboration Technologies Shape the Construction and Electrical Industry?

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Twenty-five years ago, electrical system consulting engineers and specifiers were using calculators and PC-powered spreadsheets (remember VisiCalc?) to design and spec’ systems. A simulation was something done on a benchtop. CAD was in its infancy, with server processing speeds measured in MIPS and Product specs were downloaded from a CD-ROM.

The industry has evolved, adapted to and harnessed emerging technologies, understanding and responding to the business impact of new power technologies such as renewable energy, sensor-based smart systems and building automated controls. Leveraging design and collaboration tools such as CAD, VR-based simulation or rapid prototyping and 3D printing.

But what if your company had been 12 months, two years or even five years ahead of the curve in predicting, what would your business look like today if you had a view of what was on the horizon back then? What new business models might have given you a competitive edge? And what lies ahead in the next 10 to 15 years?

In an age of AI and data-driven design, global collaboration technologies, new “computational design” approaches, and both virtual and crowd-sourced design tools – the construction, electrical power and distribution industry will see radically shifting business models that will reshape our industry.

  • Designing with Millions of Data Points: Will “computational design” – harnessing massive data for new and customized products – migrate into the power distribution market, and change the role of specifiers?
  • The “Craft” of Power Design: Are high-end CAD, even AI-enabled design tools taking the “craft” out of design – or accelerating options and expanding interactions between customers and specifiers?
  • Connecting Silos: What is the changing role for contractors and specifiers as the silos between concept, design, engineering and manufacturing are broken down, creating new automated design and collaboration tools?
  • Design Assets as a New Revenue Commodity: If automated design “assets” become commercial commodities, will that create new product and revenue channels for construction and electricity system designers and specifiers?
  • Hyper-Local or Global Markets: Will new collaborative design tools help local contractors, designers and specifiers expand their market reach, or allow national or even global competitors to serve regional markets?
  • Automating Design – Job Killer or Creativity Accelerator? – As power engineering and design advances, will automation and AI reduce the need for designers, or democratize the design function (e.g., letting any professional participate in design and specification). Or will these tools be force multipliers allowing engineers to be more creative, accelerating their output, and enhancing their value?
  • Global Design and Manufacturing Collaboration – The aerospace industry has been designing and manufacturing aircraft parts at multiple global locations for years. Will the building and power engineering and design industry follow suit with new and powerful collaboration tools?  And will that create new business opportunities – or market consolidation – for power design and specification professionals?

How we look ahead 5, 10 or even 20 years at design and collaboration technology’s impact on the power distribution industry for electrical equipment consulting engineers and specifiers is discussed with experts during the upcoming Schneider Electric Innovation Summits.

In fast-changing markets like building and power distribution technologies, reasonable “predictions” can be measured in 3 or 4 year spans.  Yet instead, looking out 10, fifteen or even 20 years requires us to ponder new questions, probe how shifting business models will impact our business, and what opportunities might be on the horizon.


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