According to one recent study, 96% of construction leaders believe that technology can improve productivity in their industry. In addition, 71% believe that it’s already led to improvements.
While this sector has been historically slower to transform than others, the tide has started to change. In fact, the same survey found that 92% of construction firm owners and 96% of contractors reported that their organizations have initiated a digital transformation strategy.
Construction industry technology trends vary in scope, but they’re all designed with one central intent. Their goal is to make work easier, safer, and more efficient.
Today, we’re exploring a few of the top movements and what they could mean for the future of this field.
5 Construction Industry Technology Trends
1. Moving Beyond Workflow Automation to Intelligent Insights
For years, tools like ERP and CRM have helped construction companies digitize their common, back-office workflows. These programs automate manual work, mitigating human error and expediting operations.
While these tools are undoubtedly beneficial on their own, businesses are now enhancing them with integrated tools that add business intelligence (BI) and artificial intelligence (AI) features. As a company receives data, these tools mine it for actionable insights.
As a result, business leaders can make quicker and better-informed decisions. They can also predict future performance and future needs more accurately.
Looking ahead, construction leaders anticipate that BI and AI could greatly enhance job site productivity in both residential and commercial projects.
Any time a delay or another type of issue occurs, it can hinder progress. This heaps time and money onto each project, working against the firm and the client. With BI and AI functionality, building teams can predict the problems before they even happen, helping to prevent those costly setbacks.
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In helping the client get its project back on track, one of our primary focus areas was decreasing their customization needs by improving their processes to align with the system's best practices.
2. Robust Data Cleansing Technologies
Of course, for data to be useful in BI, AI, or machine learning applications, it must first be clean.
A major issue in this industry is “bad” data or information that’s inaccurate or ambiguous. According to one report, bad data cost the global construction industry $1.8 trillion in 2020. It also contributed to 14% of all rework performed that year, which cost $88.69 billion alone.
Technologies that facilitate job site data collection are helping reduce these costs. These systems capture data right at the source, rather than requiring it to travel through a vast maze of supply chain endpoints.
Instead of each major piece of equipment (e.g., cranes) having its own data collection point, these sources are merged using a comprehensive suite of tools that can gather, organize, and distribute data from all angles.
This is allowing general contractors to work from one single source of truth for each project. As a result, it’s easier for them to gain efficiencies, track progress, improve safety measures, and achieve other initiatives.
3. An Uptick in Building Information Modeling
As a largely hands-on sector, the construction industry prioritizes visual data representation.
With tools like building information modeling (BIM) and robotics, companies are generating information about each project without spending an excessive amount of time on traditional data collection.
In addition to BIM, contractors are also employing robotics, including drones. Drones allow them to cover a significant amount of square footage in a short amount of time.
As a result, firms are changing the way they approach traditional grid system layouts, which require copious hours of human involvement. Instead of tasking team members with the job, they’re outsourcing it to drones that can complete it quicker and more economically.
4. Enterprise Device Integration
Construction teams have long relied on various types of technology to power their workday but now, those devices are all talking to one another. Increasingly, leaders are installing easy-to-use applications that will work on a variety of different devices.
Leveraging other technologies, including 5G connectivity, users can now connect both in the office and in the field. They can also share information across platforms, log into virtual meetings, and collaborate with their colleagues in a few clicks.
When construction companies use automated, cloud-based solutions, such as cloud ERP software, they can access the information they need from anywhere, at any time. This can help to reduce bottlenecks, minimize redundant paperwork, and maximize the firm’s scope of reach – if the company ensures a thorough ERP selection process and establishes a strong project plan.
5. The (Continued) Rise of 3D Printing and Green Tech
Of all the promising technologies to emerge from the construction sector, 3D printing is among the most prominent.
Many commercial construction companies are using the technology to replace certain traditional building components, such as concrete blocks. When these items can be fabricated directly on site, there are fewer logistical headaches.
It also helps the environment, as some 3D-printed objects can be created using recycled materials – construction waste, such as excess lumber, can be used to print such 3D objects as modular walls, floors, and even roof panels.
This shift aligns with another rising trend in construction: an emphasis on green technology. Not only does reducing waste help the environment, but it also saves a firm money. As such, companies are searching for ways to repurpose what they have so they can lower costs and improve their carbon footprints.
The 3D printing trend could make these goals more feasible, diverting waste away from landfills and enabling a cleaner building approach.
Are You Considering Digital Transformation?
The construction industry hasn’t always rapidly embraced digitization or automation. However, as these systems become more capable, industry leaders are recognizing their potential.
As these construction industry technology trends reveal, some solutions are still in their earliest stages, while others are more established. Still, all are working to propel the sector forward.
Are you interested in learning how digital transformation or an ERP implementation can benefit your construction company? Learn about our ERP consulting services below and request a free consultation.