4 Reasons Why Technology Is Exactly What Construction Needs
The construction industry can experience incredible rises in productivity, efficiency, and safety by stepping into the future with the widespread integration of technology. The opportunities for improvements in these areas are especially exciting for subcontractors, whose teams can greatly benefit from applying more technology on-site. The industry is only expected to continue growing in the years to come, and advances in construction technology will allow managers, contractors, and subcontractors alike to keep up with demand with ease.
There are a few key areas where tech can help construction professionals do their best work.
1. Smarter Spending
Technology can make a direct, noticeable impact on costs at your site. In construction, it’s easy for expenses to add up: maybe a tool goes missing, a machine needs more fuel, or a few team members work overtime. Using technology to track things like fuel consumption, maintenance needs, and work hours can help save significant amounts of money on your project.
For example, sensors and IoT devices can be installed on equipment to monitor it for performance. This way, maintenance crew members will know when it’s in need of little repairs before they can become large, expensive ones. This will also increase productivity by increasing the uptime of machines on-site, as well as ensuring equipment is consistently safe for drivers and operators to use.
Similarly, using data collection software and telematics, subcontractors can closely monitor how they are using fuel around their site. With this data, they can see which machines are consuming fuel inefficiently, which ones are getting more fuel than they need, and where resources could be better utilized.
As opposed to approximating, this precise method can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fuel costs.
2. Increasing Productivity
Boosting productivity while also cutting costs is the key to getting an edge over competitors and securing more projects for your team. This applies to all levels of the construction process, from management to subcontractors, and technology is the way to get it done, no matter what your role is.
Some of the things that will save your team money will also increase productivity as well as efficiency, leading to compounded results. For example, there are a variety of software solutions available that have already helped teams across the country improve their logistics operations. Technology can help identify the fastest hauling and shipping routes or coordinate schedules so that everything runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible, allowing team members to get more done overall.
Additionally, technology can help your team stay connected and work more efficiently using the Cloud. When all of your project documents are only on paper, team members have to be in the same place to work on them together or may have to stop what they are doing to go find the file they need. Storing documents digitally resolves these challenges, allowing team members to quickly and easily share documents to work on collaboratively, from anywhere. Site workers and managers alike will also appreciate being able to access equipment manuals and project documentation with a quick search on their smartphone or tablet. Both of these functions enable your team members to spend more time on important projects, whether by saving time on-site or encouraging creativity in the design process.
In general, if team members can spend less time on little tasks, they can spend more time on important responsibilities and get more valuable work done, allowing subcontractors to finish projects faster and complete more projects as a result. Achieving this level of productivity using technology is closely linked to increasing efficiency.
3. Higher Efficiency
Nothing can boost efficiency like technology, especially in construction. Whether it’s making tools easier to find or using robots and AI to take care of repetitive tasks, technology can help.
For managers and administrators, digitization can help in the office as well as in the field. Keeping paper records and documents may seem easier if you are not familiar with technology, but taking the time to switch to digital file storage will save your whole team untold hours. Documents can be located much more rapidly in a virtual filing system, where a simple search query can bring up any document in seconds.
Additionally, cloud-based file storage makes all project documents easily accessible for everyone involved and allows documents to be viewed by multiple people at once. For example, a project manager may need to pull up a record of fuel consumption during a meeting at the office. With digital records, this data could be updated instantly by subcontractors on-site to give accurate, up-to-the-minute information. Plus, everyone would save time on travel and no one would have to worry about any important documents getting lost either on-site or around the office. Both of these also boost productivity.
Automation is a rising trend in the construction industry, and for good reason. It is an excellent method of increasing efficiency and productivity on-site. In particular, automation can help sub-contractors get more out of less. Robots can be put to work on-site doing repetitive, time-consuming tasks, such as laying bricks or paving roads. This need not endanger employment opportunities, either. Recent studies by McKinsey have reported that the future of construction is likely to see robots working alongside subcontractors, helping them to work more efficiently, productively, and safely.
For management, automating the planning process is another opportunity to increase productivity. The same McKinsey studies pointed out the value of planning software for general contractors and project managers. The modeling and design phase can be significantly quicker when completed using automated design software, speeding up the entire project timeline.
4. Safer Workplaces
Safety has always been one of the most important factors at construction sites. Technology offers several ways that subcontractors can create a safer work environment for their teams.
Utilizing telematics to keep track of equipment and conduct more regular maintenance on an as-needed basis will make sure that site workers are always using gear that’s in top condition. Additionally, with all of this maintenance data close at hand, team leaders can see what equipment is consistently breaking down, indicating that it may be in need of replacement. This can prevent major equipment failures that can be potentially dangerous for workers.
Telematics and tracking technology can be used for site workers, as well. Wearables allow managers to see where everyone is located on-site and who is in hazardous locations. This technology also enables workers to quickly alert managers or team leaders if they are injured, trapped, or in a dangerous situation on-site.
Additionally, AI technology can be implemented to monitor construction sites, identify high-risk zones, and predict potential accidents in real-time. This is accomplished using a combination of security cameras, machine learning, and IoT devices.
Smarter, Faster, Safer
Perhaps the best feature of construction technology is its widespread, interconnected benefits. The tech that boosts productivity also helps save money and prevent injuries. Increasing the presence of technology at construction sites will allow workers to focus on the tasks that are most important and get projects done in a timely manner with accurate, affordable results.
When you put technology to work on your project, everyone gets to succeed safer, smarter, and faster.
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Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated, where she covers contracting and residential construction topics. Check out her Twitter to see more of her work.