Across industries, venture capitalists and other investors gravitate toward high-growth markets. With the global construction industry set to crest $10 trillion by 2020, opportunities abound for startup companies with good ideas and the savvy investors backing them.
It’s no surprise then that we’ve seen the amount of VC dollars pouring into construction technology rise significantly in recent years. A new report on the state of the industry from JLL shows that in the first half of 2018, venture capitalists invested more than $1.05 billion in construction. That’s 30% more than all of 2017.
Big ideas attract big money, and there are already some construction tech companies that have raised substantial capital and are having a major impact on the industry. What follows are some of the biggest areas of recent technological change, and the companies at the forefront of each.
Collaboration and Real Time Visibility
Thanks to technology, communication and collaboration is easier than ever for construction companies. Every process, from bid management to digital scheduling to drawings have gone digital.
Procore, which specializes in cloud-based construction management software, is the single most popular piece of software in the construction industry today, according to Forbes. It is instrumental in the widespread adoption of cloud technologies in construction and remains the leader in the segment.
In December, Procore closed $75 million of funding in a round led by Tiger Global Management. This latest round valued the company at $3 billion.
“We believe business drives culture and culture drives business. This investment round will allow us to advance product innovation, expand on the largest partner and developer ecosystem in construction technology, and continue to hire and develop the best talent to support our mission and vision,” said Tooey Courtemanche, Procore’s founder and CEO, in a company press release.
As collaborative tech innovations go, few have arrived so rapidly and with such impact as Building Information Modeling (BIM), and ALICE Technologies is the major player in the space, working on an automated Building Information Model to optimize construction scheduling, quickly providing thousands of viable scheduling options, CB Insights writes.
BuildingConnected has raised nearly $9 million for its bid management solution that connects construction professionals nationwide, offering support and leveraging analytics tools to help contractors make business decisions faster, including performance analytics, historical cost data, sealed bids and more.
Data and Analytics
Construction has long been a prolific producer of data, but until recently the industry hasn’t been able to wrap its hands around it in a meaningful way. Thanks to new insights obtained through data analytics, companies are performing more efficiently and with more complete information.
Uptake Technologies is the industry leader in the analytics space, providing predictive analytics software that interprets sensor data it collects for clients in the mining, aviation, energy and construction spaces, among others. Per CB Insights, the company builds solutions based on enormous data sets, which helps companies identify problems earlier, boost safety, productivity and efficiency.
Rhumbix offers a full-featured mobile platform that provides construction field supervision, with an emphasis on a paperless jobsite. Their platform helps crews ensure they have the right tools, equipment, materials and updated drawings to get the job done safely and efficiently.
When it comes to tech advancements that would have sounded like science fiction 15 years ago, drones take the cake. Construction companies have found a wide range of uses for the zippy little unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are quickly becoming mainstream.
Shenzhen, China-based DJI is the global market leader in drone hardware, according to Construction Dive, including everything from gimbals and cameras to full-blown UAV systems. It claims more than 40% of the commercial drone market in the U.S.
For companies that may not want to take the plunge buying their own drone, Drones as a Service companies have started emerging (because of course they have). DroneBase connects pilots with companies who pay in 10-minute blocks for drone flights and any data collected.
DroneDeploy offers cloud-based mapping and analytics, as well as terrain and 3D modeling services, all conducted by drone. The company chiefly serves the agriculture, construction, mining and real estate industries, according to Construction Dive.
VR and AR
From training to virtual tours to digitally superimposing blueprints over real life, Virtual and Augmented Reality have a strong future in construction.
Holobuilder, which calls itself “[Google] Street View for construction sites”, according to Nanalyze, enables 360-degree virtual walking tours of construction sites using its web-based platform, JobWalk. The platform captures footage as workers traverse the site, and securely uploads it to the cloud for later offline viewing. Some of its customers include mega companies like Mortenson, McCarthy and Skanska.
Pandora provides custom VR and AR solutions for an impressive roster of clients like GE, Pepsico and Socar Oil, including an augmented reality app that animates factories and ships in a physical model, writes Nanalyze.
Construction robots today are capable of laying bricks, pouring concrete, digging, excavating and hauling away site debris. But more applications are being introduced all the time. If labor shortfalls continue, the jobsite of the future is likely to include some form or another of robot worker, whether autonomous vehicles or full-blown artificial workers.
Built Robotics retrofits existing construction equipment with modern smarts, using the same sensor technology found in autonomous vehicles while designing self-operating excavators, backhoes and more, according to Digital Trends. Using automation technology, the company is looking to “make construction safer, faster, and cheaper,” says founder Noah Ready-Campbell, a former Google engineer.
Construction Robotics is looking to make the jobsite safer and less physically taxing for workers. It’s the company behind the SAM 100 bricklaying robot, which improves the mason’s productivity 3-5x while reducing the amount of lifting by 50%, according to the company.
Construction will continue to be a massive industry in the future, so it stands to reason that companies with an early lead on facilitating its ongoing digitization will be well positioned themselves. Watch these companies and spaces to keep up with the bleeding edge of construction tech.
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