When thinking of “high tech” sectors, the construction industry isn’t one that typically comes to mind, but the use of technology has been just as transformative as it has in any other business sector.
Just take the use of mobile as one example. Approximately 77% of contractors use mobile technology in their daily work to manage and complete projects. Mobile apps allow contractors to send data directly from the job site to the office and give them easy access to project planning and engineering apps they need. Construction is approximately 14.7% of the global GDP, and the industry is projected to keep growing. With over 70,000 commercial construction companies in the U.S., the industry is very competitive, and one way a company can gain an edge is through adoption of the right technology solutions. Which tech trends promise the biggest opportunities for streamlining and expanding capabilities for contractors in the coming year? We’ll explore them below.
Construction Tech to Explore This Year
Adoption of technology in any industry can vary widely from company to company. Some use just the basics and are resistant to change, while others take every technology advantage that they can get to stay competitive and growing. Those construction professionals that embrace technology have a much better chance of staying on top in an increasingly tech dependent world. Here are some of the emerging trends when it comes to construction technology to explore and take advantage of in 2020 and beyond.
Approximately 42.6% of construction companies are experimenting with the incorporation drones into their workflows to expand their capabilities. Drones can be helpful in site surveying, especially in areas that may be dangerous for a human surveyor to go. They’re also a way to deliver stunning project visuals to customers showing a project throughout all stages of progress and can be used to inspect work that’s being done. When property owners are reviewing presentations from several contractors at the same time, the effective use of drone photography can easily make one construction company’s work stand out above the others.
A major cost cutting trend in the construction industry recently is the use of modularization. This is where building components are standardized and made in a way that they are easily assembled onsite. This reduces lead times by allowing components to be partially constructed in advance offsite. Modular construction is also designed with the ability to be self-contained units (wiring, plumbing, etc.), so additions can be added easily and less expensively without major upgrades needed to the existing construction. Use of technology like smart building systems helps to keep the components self-contained and also gives contractors the ability to virtually model how pieces will come together. Of those contractors currently working with modular construction, 67% expect the industry to continue to grow over the next three years.
Imagine being able to walk into an open space and virtually plan out and visualize how various components will impact a space. How much easier would it be to sell a client on a design upgrade if they could see it overlaid right inside their building? Augmented reality may still be in the early stages, but it’s already enabling faster planning with less rework when it comes to construction and engineering projects as well as allowing stakeholders to “see” the finished result virtually before the first brick is laid.
Currently, the standard types of internet connected devices in wide use on construction sites are mobile phones and smart security cameras. That’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to IoT devices. Smart wearables like hard hats, safety glasses, and vests that collect data will help with “on the fly” data input and management and offer direct, real-time, connections back to the office, where data can be analyzed and acted upon. Tools with tiny tracking sensors built in will also help reduce loss of expensive equipment by allowing contractors to keep tabs on the whereabouts of their assets.
Another technology that is in its infancy but holds great promise for the future is 3D printing. With the use of 3D printing technology, a construction firm can reduce the cost and lead time of certain building components that may be smaller, but still vital to a building’s infrastructure. The ability to 3D print components (for example, those used for piping and cabling) can also help contractors solve issues with having to change a design to fit the available parts. Instead, they can create a part that fits their design needs and have a way to make replacement parts quickly.
Is Your Contracting Firm’s Tech Prepared for the New Decade?
Onsite Techs of Rhode Island helps companies take full advantage of what technology has to offer through simple solutions that have big positive impacts. Contact us today to set up a technology consultation at 401-415-6290 or reach out online.