3 technology waves that may pass you by (and how to avoid them)
Technology has transformed the way industries and companies operate. The construction industry is one of the biggest sectors globally with an expected output of $12.7 trillion by 2022. As it happens, the sector is being hit by a new wave of technologies that could transform construction.
Yet, the sector has been somewhat slow to adapt to technological advancements. And this shows in the results too. Unfortunately, the construction industry has gained just 1% productivity in the previous 20 years. That’s compared to over 3% for other major sectors in the economy. The low growth in productivity could be attributed to the inability to adapt to technology. Don’t believe us?
A McKinsey report on reinventing construction says, “Productivity, or the total economic output per worker, has remained flat in construction. In comparison, productivity has grown by 1500 % in retail, manufacturing, and agriculture since 1945. One of the reasons for this is that construction is one of the most under-digitized industries in the world and is slow to adopt new technologies.”
So, why this reluctance to adopt technology? Some issues faced by the U.S. construction industry are:
• Shortage of labor
• Shortage of technology talent willing to work in construction
• Archaic processes that hinder collaboration, reporting, and analysis
Issues like these are making it hard for construction organizations to keep up with the technology wave. Here are three technology waves that will pass you by if you don’t address these issues in your organization:
Building Information Modeling (BIM) has revolutionized the way the construction industry executes projects. BIM is more than just 3D modeling. The 7D BIM caters to both physical and functional aspects of a structure along with considering the cost and schedule of the project. It also helps in streamlining and collaborating information and making it available in real-time for all the involved parties. The easy accessibility of the data – the blueprint, design, 3D model of the structure, as-built; helps in saving valuable resources during construction and in the maintenance phase too. Companies are saving big, delivering on time, and building better projects with implementing BIM. Owing to this, many countries like UK, Germany, and Norway have mandated the use of BIM for public infrastructure projects.
Implementing BIM successfully depends upon the ability to understand and leverage the technology. It would help if you had experts to work on the software and to give you maximum impact. The benefits of BIM could be lost to you if you are unable to build up a team of skilled professionals who are equipped with BIM knowledge.
- Automation and Robotics
As the construction industry is slowly moving towards digitization, one cannot overlook the role of robotics and automation in this field. The U.S. construction industry reported over 200,000 unfulfilled construction job positions (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Companies are focusing their attention on robotics and automation to try to reduce the dependence on human workers.
Robotics and automation will help companies cut operational costs, increase efficiency in repetitive tasks, and improve output and productivity both on-site and off-site during a construction project.
Of course, automation and robotics demand a sound data framework for the construction site with comprehensive, accurate, and current data about what’s going on. Proactive planning becomes key. And many of these demand a stable and reliable model to function effectively.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence is the term coined for machines that mimic intelligence and human cognitive functions. Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that uses statistical techniques to allow computers to learn from the data they are fed. There’s a humungous amount of data generated in a construction project, and the future success of such projects could depend upon the efficient utilization and execution of this data.
There’s a vast potential for machine learning and artificial intelligence in the construction industry. Machines can act as smart assistants that can analyze and scrutinize the copious amount of data and alert project managers about issues that need immediate attention, thereby saving time on on-site changes. AI can help drive better planning by factoring in an array of conditions that are difficult to build in manually. Resource mobilization, estimates, schedule-planning, etc. are other areas that AI can play a key role in.
Of course, AI and ML demand data. Comprehensive data is essential to train the models for ever-greater accuracy. Without that, the models could fall flat in the real world.
The construction industry has always sailed close to the wind. The overruns and rework during the construction phase have been robbing construction companies of their profits. But today, companies that are successfully adopting and implementing technological innovations are seeing improved productivity and profitability. Are you ready to adopt technology to improve your results too?