It may seem almost paradoxical to say, but for construction companies to thrive in the current environment it needs to undergo a digital construction. For a digital transformation to be successful, a construction company needs to have a clear business plan in place that maps out how going digital and including digital technologies will create value to their business. Indeed, the future of constructions depends on its ability to adapt to modern needs and focus on digital construction as well.
What exactly is digital construction?
This is when a company focusses on going beyond just digitizing analogue functions of the company. Instead, there is a core shift in the entire business operations that absorbs a digital transformation with the ultimate goal of securing a digital backbone for the company towards improving efficiency and increased productivity and profitability through realistic end-user adoption.
As with most business requirements of today there is a shift in the traditional work landscape. Further, modern customers expect and appreciate instant gratification of sorts, where they either get information or see some sort of immediate action toward their requirements. There is also a more pointed focus on optimised security and health parameters. Including technology such as augmented reality or virtual reality allows you to provide them with a quick overview of what a projected end result of a construction could be.
Some of the areas that meaningful technology can be included to the construction industry:
3D printing – Among other benefits it has helped the construction industry greatly reduce production time on certain projects.
LiDAR – LiDAR provides the construction industry with the facility to create 3D models of existing spaces and then map digital plans within that space. This has allowed for a quicker process in quality assurance where errors can be spotted quicker before they become a problem in reality.
Drones/unmanned aerial – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs are replacing traditional terrain surveillance methods. Drones has also proved their benefits when it comes to aerial surveillance, capturing required data with less trouble and within a shorter period of time. Contractors that use surveillance technology are able to undertake larger projects with confidence.
Augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality – Over the past few years there has been a steady increase in the use of AR and wearable devices in the construction industry. It enables contractors to provide clients with a 3D model of a proposed design, which facilitates greater clarity. There has been a steady shift of the construction industry entering the mobile applications platform which has increased workflow dramatically.
Productivity and planning apps- Quality construction apps have vastly improved the productivity of the industry and have today, firmly, established themselves as an invaluable resource. They assist construction management to map project and report details, in professional PDF format, to be shared conveniently, along with site notes and photographs. Data can be shared quickly either via email or cloud based systems such as Google Drive etc.
Data Analytics – Data analytics is used to help managers make informed business decisions regarding projects which enables them to improve efficiency. In turn these informed decisions have allowed the construction industry to become more environmentally sustainable, energy efficient and experience substantial economic growth.
How have new technology and digital tools helped the construction industry address old challenges?
The need for such a technological overhaul arose owing to the longstanding industry issues that needed quick if not immediate solutions. The industry has been bogged down by recurring issues such as tight profit margins, quality control delays and overruns in high profile projects and recently the lack of skilled labour.
Embracing digital literacy is creating a transformational change in the industry boosting productivity and efficiency and also encouraging a younger generation to enter the construction industry. It has slowly but surely created a fundamental change in the sector’s existing skills and ethos, by ensuring best practices.
What are the current industry challenges?
Construction is happening all around as cities develop with increased infrastructure needs for schools, hospitals, administrative buildings, and housing. There is also a greater focus on quality and building safety with emphasis on being environmentally sustainable. Being held accountable means there has to be clarity in all dealings which the current digital tools have made easier to do.
There is no doubt that including digital technology in the workings of the construction industry has had a positive impact improving safety, sustainability, and value addition. As the need for construction increases across the world, digital tools have helped industry experts to share technology trends, along with industry knowledge and expertise creating a global standard. The implementation of these changes helped breathe new life and momentum which in turn has had a significant impact on attracting a new wave of young talent to the construction industry. Just a few years back it was not considered a field that young people wanted to get into, but the inclusion of digital technology has proved the catalyst to generating interest and excitement in this dynamic industry.