Welcome to the digital age: technology in the construction industry
Today, new technologies are being developed at breakneck speed in all markets from IoT (the internet of things) to medical and transport. What seemed like future tech ten-twenty years ago, is now a reality. This is also true for the construction industry.
If we look back 100 years, technology in the construction industry would look completely different to how it is today: we now have hardware that allows less labour-inducing work to be completed in a fraction of the time. Cranes and excavators are a small example of this revolution.
So is it hard to believe that a revolution in construction software is less likely than how hardware has changed the industry over this time?
Construction is sometimes slow to evolve. This is a mix of the reluctance of those who work in construction and a fear to change from the unknown. Clients and business leaders are catching on to this software revolution.
Document Control and Management
Document control is the first advancement that by modernising what would be typically mountains of paperwork, usually inappropriately stored, to an electronic archive of files – all in one place safe, from physical and human error – will allow retrievability and security when, for example, an accident occurs and the correct paperwork is required to show that adequate processes and safety protocol have been followed.
Document management. Many start-ups are creating tools that let E&C companies upload documents, track changes to them, and record all decisions made about their content.
Collaboration and better connectivity across job sites
Frequently, if not always, engineers, managers, surveyors, architects and construction workers are not working on the same project as each other. However, with cloud technology, for example, all of these people and companies can remain connected with each other regardless of the distance between them.
There is a growing landscape of different software solutions that enables graphics, measurements and instructions to be passed along much more efficiently, and in real-time as well. As you can you for the data:
- 75% of construction firms now promote themselves through social media as described in (JBK)
- Only 24% of construction employees are “very comfortable” with new technology. (JBK)
- Last year saw a 12% growth in the number of construction firms using Building Information Modelling (BIM) software as described in (NBS)
- 82% of contractors agree that BIM (Building Information Modeling) is the future of project information ref (NBS)
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process that incorporates digital depictions of buildings in 3D models to facilitate better collaboration. This can lead to better design and construction of buildings overall.
Changes to the BIM model occur in real time, so any changes or updates to the model are instantly communicated to all team members when they access the model. Everyone is working with the most up-to-date information at all times.
Have you ever been at a worksite and wasted a good chunk of time looking for that special tool only to realise one hasn’t been hired for the site or that it hasn’t been returned by an employee on site?
Asset tracking software can eliminate this issue.
A simple software platform could quickly find the asset in question. This is far easier and better to manage than, say, paperwork.
For larger sites, locations of fleet vehicles could be extremely beneficial and could help to drive down costs. Worker tracking is another potential benefit. All these benefits could be hard to quantify with a monetary value, but any experienced construction professional would know that they are worthwhile. Again, the low cost of such a program makes the hurdle lower for approval.
Where next for technology in the construction industry?
This is only the surface of what the digital construction age can offer this Industry. 90% of all global infrastructure projects are either over-budget or delayed (2018 FMI).
This is a multifaceted issue driven by the poor adoption rate and use of software that is proven to improve project control and oversight.
This is changing gradually though and companies that don’t use such resources and evolve in this way risk being outplayed by the competition.
In summary, many major construction companies are already adopting and interweaving technology into their construction projects to get ahead of the curve. They have seen how this can enable them to improve many aspects of the construction.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help bring the next generation of technology in the construction industry to your company, don’t hesitate to get in touch.