From managing personnel and financial outlay to predicting outcomes and equipment maintenance, the role of data is more critical in the construction industry than you might imagine.
Nowadays, modern tech and data management are revamping the construction industry on the whole. With construction technology investments more than doubling in the last decade, construction practices are changing.
These changes carry significant implications for the industry. From the tech involved to their applications on-site, these are the details you need to know.
A host of new technologies is powering innovative construction techniques. These are streamlining the way data is collected throughout development, leading to new and greater insights all the time.
The construction industry has not been immune to the mobile revolution, in which data-driven oversight has become the new normal – these technologies are revamping everything from site monitoring to building practices themselves.
Let’s check the technologies responsible for this overhaul of construction practices across the board:
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is an umbrella term that includes all kinds of devices that communicate data over an Internet connection. In the construction industry, they include
- Asset tracking tools
- Remote equipment management devices
These various sensors and monitors can track everything from hazards in working environments to the performance of machinery.
By using them, site managers gain a comprehensive picture of everything from safety to efficiency.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Through AI, all kinds of construction processes can be evaluated, automated, and improved. That’s because AI technology can evaluate information at human or superhuman levels.
Using AI-powered systems, construction managers are revolutionizing the way they manage labor and risk assessments.
Machine Learning algorithms take employee information and automate scheduling accordingly. Workers are evaluated according to their skills and project goals, then the system creates a workflow optimized for project efficiency.
Similarly, risks associated with a project can be evaluated and reduced through these tools. The AI models risks against existing data, and then produces alerts or recommendations for improvement.
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR)
Augmented Reality (AR) represents a visualization of reality overlaid with digital information. On the job, this means interactive displays for equipment and process information.
With Virtual Reality (VR), users are fully immersed in a digital world. From here, construction professionals can visualize projects and engage in computer-aided design to enhance the efficiency of the process.
This is an additive construction process that stands to change the nature of construction altogether. With 3D printing, structures can be pre-fabricated with digital precision.
Additionally, this technology enables the use of new materials and alloys through its unique approach to assembly. The implications include higher quality at lower costs.
We also have the robotic tools that make construction sites more secure and more efficient. These devices are often paired with AI to complete tasks like
- Concrete and bricklaying
- Steel-truss assembly
As a result, labor costs and time are saved, with the added benefit of machine-level quality.
These technologies are all linked and they gather important construction data, which in turn informs valuable data management processes.
The Data Management Processes
With all this technology, the data available to construction companies become boundless. Additional tools and processes are needed to evaluate and apply this data.
Fortunately, the data management tools being employed by construction managers are as vast and powerful as the aforementioned technologies.
These are just a few of these tools and processes:
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM is a process that has been around a long time but only in the modern time has become commonplace in construction.
BIM entails turning all your collected data into a 3D model of the build, complete with a detailed building process. These models are also interactive and integrated with your building schedule.
Having this oversight is essential enough that 78% of building companies view BIM as the future of project information.
Digital twinning is a process that is highly similar to BIM in nature. That’s because it uses data to model a build, piece of equipment, or procedure.
With digital twinning, real-time data is fed into a smart module that runs AI algorithms to determine efficiency and predict problems. On the job site, this helps to reduce risks.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
CAD is another data management tool in which a computer assists the design process. It can be used in everything from laying out the construction site to building a project workflow.
Project managers employ this tool as they create precise models of buildings. As a visual aid, it helps ensure that every element of a design is considered and optimized before construction even begins.
Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)
Then we have Integrated Project Delivery. IPD represents the compartmentalizing of project elements through data analysis to produce a highly targeted and flexible lean construction process.
This process strives for efficiency through collected information from all stakeholders in a project. From here, collaborative tools are used to streamline data into ideal project conditions.
Cloud-Based Construction Management
Of course, many of these data management processes would not be possible without the use of cloud-based construction management systems.
Cloud systems are perfect for data visualization and workflow management. That’s because these collaborative technologies safely store data in accessible forms, lending to the collaborative ability of all stakeholders.
Services like Google Cloud can be employed to create tailored data experiences, which then result in broad project oversight. As a result, managers can revamp the entire construction process with measurable, intelligent efficiency.
What These Modern Tools Mean for the Construction Industry
You may understand the functionality and usefulness of all these tools, but what are their direct implications for the construction industry?
Overwhelmingly, these implications are positive. With data and technology, we can streamline productivity and reduce risk at every stage of construction.
Additionally, the digital transformation is a goldmine when it comes to cost reduction. Primarily, this is due to the effects it has on finances, staffing needs, and innovation potential.
Technology helps cut construction costs through planning, prediction, and efficiency. That’s because the data-driven and digital nature of these tools allow project managers to effectively correct issues as they occur.
For instance, nearly 70% of projects fail to come within 10% of their budgets, while 30% of all construction work is rework.
By employing digital tools to model both these aspects at every stage of construction, labor and materials costs are reduced.
Another key element of efficiency and cost reduction empowered by technology is the management of staff.
Labor costs make up around 20%-40% of overall construction costs. Reducing these through AI-assisted scheduling and workflow automation is possible with these modern tools.
Finally, modern technology and data management enable greater levels of innovation than ever before. With all the insights from the data, you can better identify pain points and their solutions.
Construction managers are using devices on the IoT alongside data management processes to model better processes. Then, analytics tools predict the effectiveness of any experimental solution before it takes physical form.
The result of innovation means reduced costs and can even translate to more sustainable building procedures. These benefits give every construction company reasons to adopt new and transformative tech.
With modern tech and data management, the construction industry is being continuously revamped. Greater insight from data enables productivity to rise while costs go down.
Project managers should implement these technologies for greater efficiency onsite and for a competitive edge in our new digital world.