Despite the advances of modern technology, the construction industry is still lagging behind when it comes to digital transformation and using technology to improve output. Digital adoption has been slow, in part due to wariness of new technologies, and in part due to the investment required to roll out implementation. After all these technologies are not cheap and main contractors haven’t exactly been posting major profits in recent years.
However, digital believers say the investment is worth it, because it is the key to increasing productivity in the industry. Technology is also seen to mitigate the predicted loss of senior skills in the industry as people come up for retirement, in that it can enable greater efficiencies in projects if implemented properly. So what could this look like?
A major benefit of digital technology is the ability to integrate multiple platforms. This connectedness helps to improve the management of procurement, processes, planning and project implementation. It facilitates the sharing of information with key stakeholders in a timely manner which enables potential problems to be identified in advance and mitigated. It also creates a historical database where useful information can be stored to facilitate troubleshooting in future. More importantly, the information can be indexed so that it is easy to find and share.
Off-site manufacturing has been tipped to be the gamechanger in the construction industry, especially in terms of delivering on ambitious housing projects. Digital technology forms an integral part of cross sector collaboration. It can help facilitate a more efficient planning and production process, ensuring that all the industry partners have the information they need at their fingertips.
People who have industry knowledge are identifying ways to apply technology to facilitate greater efficiency. Drone and scanning technology, for example, is helping engineers carry out more accurate checks in building progress. Digital photos can be overlayed on original technical drawings and discrepancies can be address early on in the building process, helping to reduce costs and delays caused by mistakes. More accurate forecasting can be made based on historical data which not only improve procurement and reduce material costs, but can also contribute to reducing waste generated in construction.
There’s little debate that technology is a great tool that can be used to improve productivity in construction, however, if it is to make an impact, far greater investment and commitment to using it will be needed.