Though there is an urgent need to improve infrastructure and the need for new construction remains red hot, research has shown that in some sectors of the construction industry, labor productivity has declined relative to overall economic productivity. Add this to the fact that large scale projects typically take 20 percent longer to finish and tend to run 80 percent over budget, it’s clear that it’s getting harder for those in the construction industry to consistently drive a profit.
To address this challenge, many of the top players in the construction industry have looked for solutions in the digital realm. Here are several examples of how these companies are undergoing a digital transformation, becoming more productive and profitable in the process.
Imagine not waiting for updated blueprints to arrive, or not having to shuffle through the previous week’s progress reports to get an idea of a project's current status. From equipment logs to procurement reports, much of the construction industry still relies on paper. If you stop to think about what it takes to manage the many parts of that paper trail, it’s no wonder projects go over budget and experience schedule delays.
One of the biggest shifts in construction is moving to online communication and sharing processes that give real-time updates on information and data. Technology such as Building information Modeling (BIM) allows everyone involved with the project to have access to the same information wherever there is an internet connection. Simply put, digitization is a more effective and efficient way to collaborate on projects that have many loose parts and many different players.
The Internet of Things
In its 2017 industry trends report, Construction Dive foresees that the Internet of Things has the potential to revolutionize the job site. For instance, like the “check engine light” in your car, sensors that monitor and give information about when equipment needs to be serviced could go a long way toward preventing equipment failure and delays.
Another aspect of this is labor tracking technology that monitors how much time is being spent on a project to manage labor inefficiencies, which directly correlates with the bottom line.
With all of this data generated from devices, the next question is how to manage the data and maximize digitized processes. The ultimate goal is to make the data accessible and formatted in a way that allows people to understand the various aspects of the job site or construction process with ease. This has spawned a whole industry in itself, with companies like Autodesk developing programs that help managers analyze data and helps contractors identify risks on the job site.
Some companies use apps to train employees, monitor concrete delivery and the use of cranes. Other companies develop apps that allow crews to update progress on sites, giving managers a real-time snapshot of progress and cost.
Driven by data and efficient processes, construction companies and managers are finding increasingly creative and sophisticated ways to leverage digital technology to become more competitive and more profitable.