The digital transformation of the last two decades has taken hold of the business environment in a powerful way. Companies in nearly all sectors are experiencing a significant shift in the way business is done, with a heavy focus on improved productivity, increase profitability, and enhanced product and service offerings. The construction industry has been historically slow to update its processes and business models in-line with other industries, but technology is currently making its long-awaited appearance in the sector. Construction professionals can embrace these new solutions to run more efficient businesses and keep a closer eye on profitability by reducing common costs over time.
These are the seven major areas where technology is changing construction.
1 - Business Management
One of the most apparent shifts taking place in the construction industry thanks to technology is the advancement of business processes and systems behind the scenes. Construction managers and job site owners have countless digital tools at their fingertips to help with managing all aspects of the business. This includes more efficient ways to manage material use and equipment inventory, logging subcontractor hours and pay, and maintaining reporting requirements from regulatory perspectives. Many software solutions integrate with older, legacy systems, making this change an easy one for construction businesses across the board.
2 – Jobsite Productivity
Another area of transformation in construction is productivity on each job site. Technology has offered job owners and general contractors more efficient methods to keep track of project timelines as well as subcontractor progress from start to finish. The technology advancements in this arena come in the form of wearable devices that track work performed, as well as mobile devices that help keep the often mundane tasks necessary for a project’s success up to date and completed on time.
3 – Worker Safety
Although wearables are being utilized in several different ways in the construction business, these devices are making a significant difference in the safety of workers. From smart helmets to digitally enhanced eyewear, workers are alerted to potential hazards on the job that they otherwise could not identify. Similarly, augmented and virtual reality solutions are being used to train workers before they arrive at a job, preparing them for safety concerns well in advance. Even though most licensed and bonded construction workers have appropriate training throughout their careers, the addition of these resources has the ability to further reduce the risks often associated with construction work.
4 – Surveying and Monitoring
Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are being used throughout construction. These digital tools are equipped with cameras to offer a bird’s eye view of a construction site to help with surveying and identifying potential hazards for workers. Drones also help with inspections throughout a project’s progression, offering some reduction in cost and improving efficiencies.
5 – Improved Materials
Technology is also playing a role in the materials used on job sites. The addition of 3D printing has proven beneficial for construction companies, as concrete composites, plastics, and other materials are being printed and used to create structures on-site. This offers a more cost-effective and accurate way to complete a project.
6 – Self-operating Equipment
Some technology firms are making waves in the construction industry because they are currently developing and implementing autonomous equipment solutions. Heavy machinery, like excavators, bricklayers, and bulldozers, are already being used on construction sites to help ease the burden of the labor shortage in the industry. While these machines are not yet mainstream, the benefits they offer mean they are likely to become a staple in construction in the years to come.
7 – Big Data
Finally, technology is shifting the construction business by way of big data analytics. With the detailed information from new software solutions, wearable tech, and drones, construction site managers have more data than they have ever had. This influx of information offers a way to analyze job site progress, budgets, timelines, and efficiency for companies large and small.
Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.