Technology In The Construction Industry

Technology In The Construction Industry

The construction industry has undergone extensive transformation driven by the adoption of new technology. While in the past technological advancement has been more visible in other industries like manufacturing, retail, and agriculture, the construction industry has the latest beneficiary of what has come to be called the digital revolution.  The acceleration in technology in the industry has introduced an extensive digital transformation.

However, while technological advancement has been ongoing for some time in the construction industry, many companies are still doing business using old-age methods. In fact, a study conducted by KPMG found that while 72% of construction and engineering executives view technological advancement as a key pillar in achieving their short-term and long-term goals, less than half had a clear strategy of integrating technological advancements in in their operations.   Below are ways in which technology is changing the construction industry;

Reduction in accidents

The construction industry has constantly ranked among industries that are deemed most dangerous to work in. Of the 4,963 work-related deaths reported in 2016, 991 were from the construction industry. The construction is prone to accidents due to its reliance on heavy machinery and materials, intense physical, labor, varying geographical conditions, and unpredictable weather conditions. 

Technology had dominated many conversations surrounding the improvement of worker safety. Indeed, to this date, technology has played a key role in reducing work-related deaths and injuries in the construction industry. Drones are being used to access areas that are dangerous and inaccessible to workers, while wearable is being used to track workers’ locations, environmental factors, and biometrics. Wearables are smart devices attached to the workers or their protective gear like glasses, boots, vests, and helmets. With the ongoing technological advancements, the construction safety outlook looks positive.

Improving productivity

Recent research shows that productivity in the construction industry has stagnated in the last decade largely due to overreliance on the traditional design-bid-build method. Compared to other industries, the construction sector is faced with a myriad of challenges, which are unique to every construction project.

Recent years have seen an overflow of construction software and mobile apps. Today, there are mobile apps to manage every aspect of a construction project helping to connect the office to the construction site. Many construction software is cloud-based allowing users to access them anywhere in the field. In addition, cloud software allows for updates and changes, scheduling, as well as other management tasks in real-time. 

In addition, contractors are using mobile technology to collect data in the field, which is later used for decision making in the office. The quick coordination between the site and the office helps reduce time wastage, save money, and allow faster delivery of the project.

Better project organization and management

One of the biggest challenges that contractors face is fragmented work between the site and the office.  Project management software is however changing the trend. Contractors are using software to manage their teams, give updates to clients, track and manage expenses, and schedule meetings. A project management software is always the starting point for any construction executive seeking to step into the digital age.

With a Project Management Information System (PMIS), contractors are able to condense all aspects of a project in one manageable location. Although they can simplify projects, research shows that only 8% of construction executives are using PMIS. It is costly to fully implement a PMIS, making them a preserve of large construction companies. Throughout the industry, while many players have realized the importance of using project management software, few have taken practical steps to implement them.

Attract millennials

The construction industry could be staring at a looming manpower crisis growing the skills gap between baby boomers and millennials. This is largely attributed to the fact that few Millenials are willing to take up construction jobs. With many executives headed to retirement, many senior positions are expected to remain vacant.

Executives are implementing various mechanisms to attract millennials including embracing technology. This group has grown up with technology throughout their life hence they resonate well with various software and mobile apps. Also called the information age, millennials are used to quickly accessing information and data. A study by Microsoft confirmed that 93% of millennials say technology is a big determining factor when selecting an employer.

Going forward, companies that will be working with the smartest technology stand to attract this young energetic generation to work for them. The construction industry will become more appealing to young workers if companies implement and start demonstrating the use of technology at workplaces. A young force is especially attracted to technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality, drones, and robots.

Stay Competitive

Why many construction executives are yet to fully embrace technology, this trend is likely to change in their future. This is because customers and clients are gravitating more towards contractors that are able to demonstrate the use of technology. Contractors are also using transparent reporting as a tool to attract clients.

3-D technology has the potential to be a game-changer in the industry. It is helping clients save money, time, and labor. With 3-D technology, construction companies are able to produce designs and correct any errors before actual construction. In addition, using 3-D, companies are working with clients to ensure they get the design aspect right.

The growing calls to tame climate change and environmental conservation is shaping client spending and choice of projects. Construction companies are using technology to reduce the number of materials used so as to create eco-friendly buildings. Across the board, there are growing calls to turn the construction industry into an eco-friendly industry.

The world is highly dynamic and only those companies that will embrace the latest technologies will stay afloat. Competition is stiff and companies that will turn digital will stay above the competition curve.  In addition, companies are using technologies to embrace new unexpected future changes and tap into new opportunities.

The construction may have lagged behind in terms of embracing technology but this trend is changing. The future of the industry seems to be digital technology and players seem to be responding in the same way.

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