Over the past couple of decades, many industries have been quick to adopt new technologies, digital tools, and automated processes. Still, a good portion of the construction industry has lagged in this pursuit. In recent years, large-scale construction projects have rapidly adopted new technologies, and mid-scale projects are showing signs of progress, but small firms have been left behind in the “Stone Age,” primarily relying on fragmented procedures and paper documentation.
It wasn’t until a global pandemic put a temporary halt on construction progress and in-person working that the industry as a whole recognized the need to catch up. Those in the industry were required to have an adaptive, flexible, and open-minded response to how they approached work and collaboration. Technology allowed people to migrate to working-from-home and virtually connect. As pandemic slowly becomes an endemic, it is up to the construction industry to continue moving at the speed of innovation.
Robotics Will Propel the Field Forward
Teams can easily use construction robots for site comparison, progress updates, and real-time information gathering across projects. When automated robots are deployed, quality assurance can be delivered through fast data capturing, and issues on-site can be communicated with detailed visuals. What traditionally would have taken weeks for teams to process, robots can perform within days.
Not only that, teams can use robotics to evaluate sites where it may be unsafe for humans. Many engineering and construction firms are investing in drones and robotics to streamline remote access and visual data capturing. Areas such as electrical, plumbing, equipment misuse, and weak foundation points are being quickly identified through connected technologies for faster decision-making.
There’s no doubt that robotics and AI will be deeply entrenched in the construction workflow over the next decade. That isn’t to say the technology will overtake construction jobs. As with many industries, the introduction of automated systems enhances its functions and better manages human error, and a large segment of skilled people in the construction industry has migrated during the pandemic, which will lead to an acute labor shortage once business returns to normal.
When the construction industry eventually rebounds from COVID-19 — and it will — there is no doubt that robotics and AI will be much-needed additions to construction teams.
Project Management Tools Will Enhance Coordination & Collaboration
Technology plays a vital role in enhancing coordination and collaboration within construction projects, especially due to COVID-19. With many construction projects growing in terms of scale and complexity, having a robust construction management software in place streamlines engagement with all stakeholders and is key to a successful end product. Important processes, such as procurement, financial management, planning, and site monitoring can be significantly more streamlined through technology-based collaboration.
Thanks to project management technology, the hybrid work-from-home, work-on-site workforce is here to stay. Project management tools provide remote access to worksites via integrated monitoring tools. Developers can gain greater visibility into complex sites through visual mapping via drones, robotics, and IoT sensors. Remote workers, site teams, inspection analysts, contractors, and other entities can easily engage with each other no matter where they are in the world.
As for collaboration, teams can engage with each other at scale when interacting through a singular platform. All communication and data points can be stored seamlessly within cloud-based construction project collaboration tools. Additionally, developers can track communication history, metadata, and key progress updates for greater transparency.
Teams Will Make Full Sense of Data
Technology's key advantage is access to actionable insights from quality data. By leveraging estimate, budget, and projection data within construction management software, teams can easily plan and execute the project. With many traditional projects taking longer to finish than anticipated, data-driven collaboration can also significantly improve timeline adherence.
Data from equipment and sensors can also be shared with relevant teams for follow-ups, secondary inspections, and remediation. This ultimately helps teams track the performance and health of site assets. Not only does utilizing insights from project data make for a better end product, but it also streamlines and strengthens communication and collaboration among the team.
The pandemic has triggered a wave of digital transformation in the construction industry. The strong demand for innovation is exciting and will result in more thoughtful, collaborative, and efficient projects for years to come.