Technology Innovation in some traditional industries sounds like an oxymoron but the innovation and digitization in the Construction industry is much faster than you can imagine.
Until recently, technology innovation in Construction is not a primary focus area but thanks to many modern technologies that are enabling companies to try out new possibilities. No wonder that a vast amount of venture capital money in this industry is spent on new startups in building mobile and collaborative solutions.
Now let’s look at some of the fundamental technologies that are well-positioned to help the Construction Industry grow.
Digitize or Die. While every company thinks about digitization, very few companies make it a priority and execute. Paper based contracts, RFIs, change orders, checklists, progress reports and other processes work but provide a very minimal traceability and often difficult to understand the source of truth. With the maturity of the Cloud, Mobile and Social technologies, it is easier than ever to provide an integrated system to help Owners, GCs and Subs during the Planning, Design, Execution and Maintenance life cycle.
Cloud applications provide an easy way to digitize your company processes and with a high ROI. Especially when the margins are so thin in this industry, Cloud applications provide ease on the CapEx and OpEx investments and let the business focus on what they are truly good at.
2D and 3D models are not just constrained to the Architects and Designers anymore. With the ever-increasing computing power on the desktops, mobile devices, the models are much more consumable and easy to interact. We are now seeing a huge growth in the tooling side where several vendors offer the 4D (Schedule), 5D (Cost) and 6D (Asset and Facility Management) model visualizations. While models coming from multiple vendors and formats are still a challenge, there is a common understanding of the benefits.
The cost of sensors is coming down, it’s becoming easy to analyze the real-time data and provide right analytics. The IoT applications in the Construction industry still need to be matured but we are already seeing multiple IoT use cases.
Drones are an eye in the sky, providing a cheaper and safer option to survey the sites during pre, during and post-construction cycles. Earlier, for certain special projects, companies used helicopters to get a hi-definition view of the job site but now the Drones get that data for a fraction of that cost, not just the cost, they provide analytics and suggest the progress of projects.
The most important thing to understand is they are not the same and the exact definitions are still being argued and solidified. No matter what they mean, the likes of Google Glass, HoloLens and DAQRI helmets are helping the industry experts to think about value-added use cases. Imagine the BIM model can be viewed via a heads-up display and you can see the RFIs, Issues or observe the model clashes as you walk on the job site. A lot of potential and positive outlook as the technology improves.
Imagine hundreds of pictures, video and audio files uploaded from a job site and they are analyzed by a ML/AI system to provide insights on safety conditions, worker conditions, weather and many more. Field data contain a wealth of information if properly analyzed.
When historical information is available, analyze the projects on the schedule, cost, resource and scope level and learn on what is the best way to maximize a project’s profit. Provide the best way to schedule that specific project with the available resources and optimize the supply chain of material and equipment.
In summary, we are living in exciting times of the cloud, social, mobile, IoT, AI and visualization technologies. The impact on the traditional industries is for real and embrace them sooner than later.