Construction Technology Giving Business Owners a Competitive Edge
Few industries change as rapidly or as impacted by housing fluctuations as construction. Business owners in this niche may wonder what they can do to improve operations, increase productivity and gain a competitive edge in a space where new companies constantly come on the scene.
The market size of the U.S. construction sector is around $1.36 trillion, but commercial ventures declined slightly while residential projects increased. Building businesses always have booms and lulls, but upgrading equipment and focusing on utilizing the best technology available will help you make the most of your time.
How exactly can construction technology give business owners a competitive advantage?
1. Visualize Projects Before Starting
Building information modeling allows construction professionals to create 3D models of upcoming projects. Companies can create a replica of an entire building or just one section or solve complex problems such as an unusual roof pitch or structural engineering concerns.
Companies can also utilize modeling to show potential clients what the finished project might look like. Architects have used models for years, but today’s computer-aided design (CAD) takes things to another level and lets you share details digitally with people worldwide.
2. Fix Minor Issues
Utilizing different types of software to comb through data allows artificial intelligence (AI) to predict and solve problems before they occur. Companies using big data for projects tend to make fewer mistakes and save money in the long run. Programs can also better determine much material a project needs without too much overage.
3. Manage Projects
Project management software allows construction business owners to stay on top of multiple plans at once and not miss any important milestones. In addition to scheduling all your contractors efficiently, you can make sure you draw on loans at the right time and use the software to keep commercial clients apprised of where you’re at in the process.
Another aspect of project management is often the conversations going back and forth, particularly in the early stages of a project. Changes and notes reside in one central location, and you can refer to them anytime you need to.
4. Monitor Your Materials
Use RFIDs to track materials and see where they are at any given moment. For example, the framing crew can’t get started without lumber. Use RFID to track where a palette is and where it’s going.
Understanding where materials help construction companies with multiple projects send workers to the best place to get the most done each day. Tracking items through RFID improves productivity and reduces frustration in finding needed materials.
5. Improve Safety
Recent advances in wearable technology help companies see which workers are on a site at any given moment. They’ll know how to track someone wearing a specific vest who’s been in an accident and get them help as quickly as possible.
Some safety wear even tracks vitals and sends a report if a worker is too hot or cold. Companies can even communicate instructions to evacuate in case of an emergency. In addition, site sensors can monitor temperature, noise, and volatile compound levels that might harm employees.
6. Prevent Costly Downtime
Equipment breaking down and the long wait for parts and repairs can slow a project and waste untold hours. However, using sensors to monitor equipment for problems can prevent these issues.
The sensors send a note anytime a component weakens or there is too much vibration. You may not be able to fully prevent the breakdown, but you can be ready with parts and a repair person to get the machine back up and running quickly. This enables projects to remain on track and allows companies to meet deadlines without worrying about downtime.
7. Get an Aerial View
Owners now enjoy tapping into drones as a way to get an aerial view of a building site or see if footers are laid out as planned. They can also capture video to update clients or create social media promotions about your work.
You might even use a recording from a drone to improve your processes and become more efficient. These devices can also reach hard-to-inspect places under bridges or outside tall buildings.
8. Automate Repetitive Tasks
McKinsey recently did an in-depth analysis of technology and the construction industry. It mentioned robotics as one area for major improvements. Firms can use robots to complete repetitive tasks such as bricklaying, cutting lumber to standard dimensions, road paving, and printing 3D materials.
Labor shortages in some specializations can be circumvented by substituting robots for humans. People are still needed for more creative solutions, and even advanced work robots can’t quite compete.
9. Collaborate Better
Collaborating with a crew of independent contractors, clients, inspectors, and others makes for complicated working relationships. Technology can help you better communicate so no one misses a key point or important deadline.
Equipping your workers with smartphones and using mobile apps allows people to update notes on the fly and check for any last-minute changes. If one person on the project is uncertain of how to proceed, a quick face-to-face video meeting can solve those issues easily.
What Will the Future Bring?
The pandemic forced companies to get ahead of the technology game and find creative communication solutions. It’s hard to say how new software and devices might impact construction. One thing is certain: Adding new features allows you to work more productively and improve employee safety.