Foundational Construction Technology
August 30, 2022
The road to digital transformation within construction projects has been a long one. But the industry mindset is shifting, and organizations are now making up for lost time. Many companies that once clung to their familiar legacy systems and processes have been eagerly embracing solid, fundamental industry-specific technologies, such as estimating and document management, designed to deliver project outcomes that their traditional systems couldn’t touch.
Now, a growing subset of these companies, buoyed by newfound efficiencies and the cost- and time-saving benefits of this level of tech adoption, are ready to move beyond foundational construction technology, seeking out even more advanced technologies to invest in.
Maybe your company is considering this next step as well? If so, no doubt your needs and goals will have evolved. The following are among specific construction technologies to look into as they relate to your organizational plans and the kinds of projects you’re planning to add to your portfolio. Let’s explore.
A major challenge facing many construction companies is the need to integrate disparate data sources and make sense of it all. Connected analytics helps get this data under control by connecting diverse data sources and interpreting them for timelier, better-informed decision making. By providing visibility into real-time project data, it enables you to identify opportunities more quickly for improvement, manage costs and improve project quality — ultimately delivering higher-performing projects faster with lower risk and more predictive outcomes.
Connected analytics is a construction technology to seriously consider if:
- You’re collecting a lot of project data but unable to leverage its full value across business functions.
- Your projects are becoming more technical and complex.
- You want to be more strategic with your data.
- You want to be able to course-correct on the fly based on real-time actionable data.
- You want to better anticipate, plan for and control risk factors.
- You want to use metrics to identify risks and issues more accurately as they’re developing to avoid surprises and uh-ohs.
- You want to automate more comprehensive reports detailing project performance and progress.
- You want to apply more of your data to better manage future projects.
Artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML)
AI is any technology that can perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence; it learns from the information it’s fed. It can perform complex tasks without human intervention, making it ideal for managing large amounts of data such as capital project estimates, and for handling complex sequences of tasks or processes such as scheduling.
ML is a subset of AI that uses algorithms to learn. It’s often used for predictive analytics — looking at past data and making educated guesses about future outcomes based on what has happened before — as well as making recommendations based on experience.
Both construction technologies are used to make more helpful, objective suggestions so you can make better choices about people, materials and processes based on data, not gut or biases — which translates into improved project management and better outcomes for construction companies and project owners alike.
Here are different ways you can benefit from AI and/or ML construction technologies:
- You can create more realistic schedules.
- It can mine data from multiple past projects to create project plans that are more precise.
- That mined prior data can help you better understand current projects for enhanced decision making.
- Forecasting becomes more accurate and predictive.
- You’re able to better identify risks so you can risk-adjust plans.
Building information modeling (BIM)
BIM is a modeling process that links valuable information to each unique element of a 3D digital model — down to every steel beam and wood nail — for all to access and interact with. Its ability to let you “walk through” a structure’s walls, ceilings, floors and other typically hidden areas allows you to see how things fit together before they’re constructed and keep track of changes as they happen. One of the key benefits of using BIM is being able to detect clashes and mistakes before they’re built into the structure, requiring rework.
Here’s how BIM would make sense for you as an advanced construction technology to evaluate:
- It can fine-tune estimates, which in turn become the source for more precise resource ordering for procurement.
- It can be used to improve structural safety as well as protect workers from potential injury.
- You can try out modifications to design and materials, and assess the potential impact of each on cost, time, labor resources, safety and the environment. You can even experiment in real-time with what-if scenarios, such as changes that are either necessary due to unforeseen circumstances or either suggested by the project owner.
- If you’re renovating or adding on to an existing structure, or retrofitting an older infrastructure project, using BIM allows you to visualize design and construction options, their impact on the structure, their respective costs and if the work is even feasible to begin with.
- It’s used to manage and improve post-build operations.
Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that lets you see and interact with your project in a different way by overlaying a 3D image of your project (or a portion of it) on top of a live camera view of the site during planning stages. During construction or even post-build you can project a proposed change or addition layered over a particular part of the structure to see how it fits within the existing space. AR tools that can help them increase efficiency and improve quality control across their portfolio of projects.
How can you incorporate AR construction technology?
- You can show clients how their anticipated project will look in a real-world setting, which can also demonstrate how it will meet owner requirements.
- It can be used to provide real-time updates on site progress without having to be physically present at all times.
- It can increase safety by providing an interactive way to train individual workers on how to operate heavy equipment and navigate around site hazards, reducing potential damage and injury.
- You can save time on training workers on new tasks and processes.
- And it can provide better visibility into what’s happening on any given job site to avoid costly errors down.
Integrated project controls platform
A migration away from point solutions is underway as more construction companies seek out the benefits that only an integrated platform can deliver. A single platform gives you access to all your project information in one place — from blueprints and design documents to safety plans and change orders — so you don’t need separate systems for different aspects of your project. This makes it easy for everyone involved in the process to see what’s going on with each, and more efficient for multiple departments, disciplines and stakeholders to collaborate on projects from beginning to end, helping to create a more streamlined workflow — from managing project information to taking bids and tracking progress. And an integrated platform goes a step further by standardizing and integrating project data so it’s far easier to make sense of it and gain the necessary insights into project performance.
- Business units can share and process data by sourcing from one database that’s considered the single source of truth.
- You eliminate redundant data entry and the inevitable keystroke and calculation errors.
- You gain more visibility into and control over scope, costs and schedules.
- Without silos, there’s more trust in the accuracy, consistency and currency of project data and documents.
- The transparency afforded by an integrated platform can have a positive impact on relationships between contractor and owner, and across departments and disciplines.
Experience what working with an integrated platform can be like by arranging for a demo.