We all know that the construction industry is slow to adopt construction technology. Although the rumor is that we are ‘slow to adopt’, we see the growth with new technologies that are using AI, VR, and the cloud for the construction industry every day. But, even though more and more construction job sites are using construction technology in many different ways, some companies still don’t know how to use construction technology the right way.
The breadth and depth of the different construction technologies is tremendous already. For instance, you can find many different solutions to help manage every aspect of a construction project. From preconstruction to scheduling, from project management and field reporting to managing your back office, there’s a software solution out there to help streamline your processes and improve productivity. But not every solution one will be the right solution for each and every jobsite.
How do you figure out this dilemma? It isn’t practical to change to a new software each time you start a new job. That would be costly and time consuming. This is why it’s smart to understand the different areas construction technology can enhance your jobsite before you invest money into a platform.
Labor. Finding skilled labor in the construction industry hasn’t been an easy task since the Great Depression and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects construction employment growth to be 11% from 2016 through 2026. So, what’s the answer? Hiring younger workers who might not have the experience of working on a jobsite but will have technology experience and expertise. There will be less training involved and your company will save money by negating technology training with only onsite training. Also, with the use of drones, robots, and autonomous heavy equipment you will need to hire less laborers on your sites, and the younger workers you have hired will already have an understanding and be able to run these technologies as if they have been doing it all along.
Collaboration. The construction industry is highly fragmented. In other words, a jobsite will have workers, engineers, and equipment, plus offsite stakeholders, including project managers and the customer. This means it can be hard to get everyone on the same page when a decision needs to be made. The use of mobile apps has made communication and collaboration on projects easier. Mobile technology can help facilitate a meeting of the minds that will lead to definitive conclusions without interrupting the day’s work, which saves time and money. Also, being able to communicate in real time ensures that issues on the jobsite are resolved quickly with every stakeholder having a say. With the use of integrated solutions that sync in real-time, different stakeholders can make changes, add notes or respond to RFIs instantly and that information can be shared with every person involved with the project at the same time.
Safety. According to OSHA, approximately 1 in 10 construction workers will experience a jobsite injury. This is a problem that general contractors worry about from the first time they step onto a new jobsite until that job has wrapped up. Construction technology can alleviate some of that worry and keep workers safe on jobsites with the use of wearables that track and respond to slip, trip and fall incidents, virtual reality that reduces the need for boots on the ground, augmented reality that tags hazards before they become accidents, and the use of predictive analytics to identify likely hazards before they even occur.
Owner Expectations and Tight Margins. Owners usually understand they need a foundation under their building, but they still expect tight margins. Typical margins for construction companies range between 2 and 8 percent and continue to shrink as owner expectations increase. By implementing cloud-based document management systems that improve workforce efficiency, better coordinate materials and prefabrication deliveries, tag issues before they become problems, enable faster and better collaboration, reduce administrative burden, and improve outcomes all saves time and money. Cloud-based construction document management also gives owners visibility that can make it easy for them to understand the project and justify the budget.
Construction firms are starting to come around on construction technology and more and more companies are researching and implementing technology that are bringing about increased productivity and better collaboration while completing projects on time and under budget, which results in higher profit margins. Construction companies that aren’t investing in new construction technology and solutions can’t stay as competitive as those that are strategically adopting and implementing tech solutions.
What construction technology solutions has your company invested in and how have you seen a difference on the jobsite?