If it feels like you hear about a new construction technology every week, you’re not alone. The construction technology sector (or “ConTech,” as it’s known to its friends) is exploding and there’s a lot of noise (and confusion) about what and where to focus your time and energy. According to McKinsey, ConTech companies have attracted over $10 billion in investment since 2011, a level of engagement that has had a tangible impact on the industry.
This impact comes as a welcome change. According to the same McKinsey report, if the construction industry were to increase its productivity by even just two to three percent, overall output would skyrocket by $1.6 trillion a year.
But in order to achieve those productivity gains, it’s imperative to identify your particular pain points. Whether your goal is to improve project coordination, increase efficiency, incorporate off-site construction, gather more data or take on more work, this guide will help you focus your technology adoption strategy for 2019.
1. Collaboration Tools
Whether for scheduling, planning or resource allocation, solutions to streamline collaboration are taking off in a big way. The use and availability of tablets and other mobile devices on the job has made it much easier for information to be distributed in real time (often through dashboards), enabling teams to respond faster to changes on a project and minimize delays and rework. Our work here at Touchplan falls into this category.
2. Sensors and Wearables
In order to provide teams with accurate information, huge amounts of data are collected on an ongoing basis. On a job site, one of the most efficient ways to collect that data is through the use of wearables, drones and mobile sensors that can measure and report on a project’s progress. An example of this type of product is StructionSite’s VideoWalk system for job site capture.
Automation covers any manual processes that can now be done using machines. Robotics and 3-D printing have enabled major changes to the way repetitive tasks are completed and have the potential to alleviate construction’s labor shortage while also increasing safety by outsourcing particularly dangerous tasks to machines. The self-driving construction vehicles being developed by Built Robotics offer one vision of an automated future.
4. Material Innovation
Not all ConTech fits on a tablet. Building materials themselves are getting an upgrade as old materials are improved and entirely new ones are created. Concerns around sustainability have spurred many inventions such as self-regulating solar facades and plastics made from recycled components. Other innovations, such as the translucent concrete manufactured by LUCEM, offer more aesthetically motivated shifts.
5. Off-site Construction
Pre-fab or off-site construction enables significant cost and time savings and minimizes waste and disruption to the job site. By assembling components of a building elsewhere, a project’s duration can be shortened, increasing profit margins. While the idea of pre-fab construction has existed for years, today’s labor and housing shortage are fueling demand in this sector and motivating new entrants to the industry, like Katerra.
Whether or not you’re implementing any of these technologies this year, sticking to business as usual is the most expensive option in the long run. Identifying the tools that will impact your business the most and experimenting with new approaches will help you make strategic investments to boost your bottom line and stay ahead of the competition.