Construction and technology have always been a bit of a challenge. Construction is complicated with so many variables and interested parties; it’s no wonder it’s at the back of the queue with industries adopting the technology. There are many reasons for this. However, there are many efficiencies to be achieved through the use of technology and it’s inevitable that the construction industry as a whole will fully adopt it with open arms in years to come. Currently, there is still an element of hesitation to take this leap of faith. Traditionally many companies would struggle to deploy these changes at scale without impacting their business and live projects, and for a good reason.
The good news is that there is a growing trend of companies getting on board with construction technology, primarily through the use of digital collaboration software tools. Construction companies have started to incorporate new building technologies into their day to day work, and we are slowly beginning to see this grow month to month with more companies biting the bullet and investing in software; one of them being BuilderStorm. Our software is used as a common data environment to enable all parties to communicate officially from one location, securely, with up-to-date real-time data allowing each member of the team to get on with their job as efficiently as possible.
A construction company using modern construction software is Mansell Finishes. Mansell Finishes (http://mansellfinishes.co.uk/) is a long established and experienced subcontractor formed in 1992. They have expertise in off-site framing solutions which are also combined with on-site finishing skills, enabling them to address the many varying and evolving requirements of the construction industry. They have worked with some of the largest main contractors in a variety of sectors such as commercial, health, leisure, education and residential as well as working with some key clients like Create Construction, Bardsley, Laing O’Rourke, Lend Lease and Galliford Try.
Not only did they invest in one emerging construction technology, they invested in two new construction technologies, BuilderStorm and Chalkstring (https://www.chalkstring.com/). They saw the benefits of taking paper-based solutions and converting to digital ones in various forms. In this instance, it was deemed that the two solutions would achieve the majority of their requirements. Angela Mansell, Operations Director at Mansell Finishes, explains it well. I have included a comment she made from their website: “It has been a major investment in terms of money and time, but one that is in everyone’s interests, across our supply chain. From our point of view, both are making us more efficient and effective in how we deliver our projects.
Our main contractor clients are benefiting as we are able to report to them in real time so we can make more informed decisions together as the project progresses. And our suppliers can rest assured that we are placing orders based on genuine demand and data. These are just some of the benefits that digital construction can deliver and forms part of our overall strategy to foster closer working relationships with our supply chain and clients for the long term benefit of all concerned.” Source: https://www.mansellfinishes.co.uk/blog/digital-construction-comes-to-mansell-with-builderstorm-and-chalkstring-implementations/
Every company has to weigh up the risk to reward of adopting construction software, and this is no easy process. Recognising you need to make a change in the first place is difficult and secondly, implementing the difference can be extremely challenging. This process typically highlights business processes that need to change, new hires, further investment than was predicted may be required, and more questions arise due to the impact of these changes. It does not help that these may have never come up till now. In some parts, the actual technology itself is not the problem – it’s obvious to see insufficiencies and benefits. Adjusting everything else to work around it is where the real challenge comes, and this is very hard to predict with every company working slightly differently.
However, the sooner these changes are made, the better, provided enough time has been put into planning, with clear goals and requirements. Sometimes it’s a case of phasing out the changes to minimise impact and attempt lean development if anything is created in a bespoke manner. The sooner the changes are made, the less change will be required later on. One thing to bear in mind is the mindset change in that technology, due to its aggressive impact, has to be continuously reviewed. You cannot necessarily install one system and not expect to make adjustments. Everything will need to be considered as time goes on regarding the system you are using and what else is on offer.
As the younger generation has grown up on tablets, and as smartphones mature, the construction industry will be in a more comfortable position to adopt new technology within construction with ease. This will make the transition that much more manageable and hopefully the element of hesitation and fear will be replaced with confidence and assurance.