Significant strides have been made by construction firms over the last 10 years when it comes to embracing new technology. Once a sector traditionally regarded to operate using outdated processes, companies are now leveraging powerful digital tools to improve on-site productivity, reduce costs and obtain useful insights into how their teams and projects are performing.
Yet, despite firms making significant ground by embracing digital, more could be done to improve productivity levels nationwide. On average, productivity in the UK is 20% lower than in other industrialised countries such as the US, France and Germany, and is commonly regarded to have “stagnated” over the last 50 years.
This said, the future looks bright for the construction sector according to professional services network PWC, who state that firms are set to invest 5% of annual revenue in digital operations solutions per annum over the next five years, setting themselves ambitious targets for digitisation along the way.
So how can the latest technology play its role in achieving these targets?
You’ll undoubtedly understand how vital construction site productivity is to completing projects within time and budget restraints, and to a high standard. Fortunately there are a number of ways for managers to approach inefficiency on construction sites, including:
Technology is helping firms address all of the above, particularly tablets, smartphones and other smart technologies, which are becoming ever more present on construction sites.
Apps have helped to increase the productivity levels of construction projects by minimising communication between multiple parties. Although nothing new, Project Managers are utilising apps to make it easier to manage projects from start to end, with data being fed back to a central source for analysing.
Apps are playing their role in all areas of the construction site to improve productivity levels. Contractors and architects can now collaborate with each other by sharing blueprints; managers can detect when a contractor has injured themselves and therefore administer the right level of guidance; and contractors’ locations can be tracked via GPS. No matter the productivity issue being faced by firms, bespoke apps have the capability to address and solve these head on, providing ample opportunity.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming every facet of the building, from how we inhabit them, how we manage them, and now how we build them. Today, IoT is providing Project Managers with actionable insights which can prevent unfortunate scenarios from occurring, which therefore increases productivity levels across the board.
Like consumer IoT products (such as the Samsung Family fridge or Amazon Dash), IoT in construction is providing on-demand insights/assistance whatever the date, time or need. Construction firms are able to track the location of their equipment, monitor temperature levels and track excessive vibrations in large pieces of machinery, plus more. This data is then being used by Project Managers for decision making purposes such as ordering new equipment before being unusable, for example.
Further fuelled by IoT, wearable technology is also being used in construction to make data-driven decisions and assess the way workers are moving every day. According to CGS Insights, shipments of smart wearables are estimated to grow from 9.7 million in 2013 to 135 million in 2018, with many being designed specifically for the construction sector.
Smart glasses, safety vests, helmets, hardhats and exoskeletons are just a few examples of wearable technology being adopted on construction sites. By offering these to workers, Project Managers are able to pay more attention to methods for reducing injury (a major contributor to inefficiency) whilst improving health & safety standards and providing education for workers.
With construction firms being constantly scrutinised for project delivery, financial out-turn and carbon emissions responsibilities, the introduction of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning is bringing huge opportunities. Using the vast data banks built up on construction projects by apps, IoT and wearables, key patterns can be identified by learning from past experiences and processes. In turn, this means less human resource, cost and increased productivity.
The benefits of such technology include fewer errors and omissions, safer job sites, improved workflows, and more on-time completions. While AI in the construction industry continues to be in its its early stages, the opportunities for such technology are huge for all construction firms, and will certainly provide value today and in the future.
In order to improve the construction site productivity of workers, it’s important that you understand how technology is disrupting the sector as we once knew it. The emergence of apps, smart devices and an overall shift in attitudes towards technology are creating opportunities that were once unimaginable by construction businesses. In an industry where money, time and resource is everything and mistakes can’t afford to be made, now is the time to fully embrace digital in this era of opportunity.
Could your construction businesses benefit by adopting the latest technology? If so, we’d like to discuss your plans and demonstrate how we can help by getting in touch with us today. Similarly, speak to a member of our team through Livechat on the bottom right hand side of your screen for more assistance.