Construction digitization is in its third decade and while it got off to a slow start, the last ten years has seen the pace of tech adoption go from zero to 60. Learn where the power of digitization in construction lies and get tips for your own digital transformation.
To start, look upon it as a journey. You will never arrive at the point where you’re done, where there are no more digital roads to take, and where you can’t squeeze out some more productivity. Adopt a plan by following these three steps:
1. Choose Software That Improves Collaboration
Too many construction firms fall into an endless loop of IT buying, only to realize minimal gains in productivity or cost reduction. Companies caught in the upgrade route often find themselves pursuing investments that don’t deliver or meet their people’s needs. Experts support focusing on software that promotes collaboration and fixes problems. Today, you can get someone else to handle the cost and headaches of an IT infrastructure. Cloud-based project management software also uses the magic of APIs so you can have an integrated IT footprint with advanced collaboration benefits.
2. Adopt Solutions Designed for the Field
You bring everything together in the field, so adopt solutions that work in the field. Mobile devices are inexpensive and powerful. Your crews can carry the plans with them, and your project managers can handle payroll from their trucks. By using the mobile advantage, you speed up decisions, reduce errors, and empower your teams.
3. Use Proof of Concept
Technology develops rapidly, so you can gain some control by using rapid testing to check whether the solution works for you. If it doesn’t, you won’t waste much time or money finding out. This approach also speeds your process of finding the right solution.
How Construction Digitization is Revolutionizing the Industry
By now, anybody who reads the construction news knows construction’s productivity woes. But the media also presents example after example of how digitization saves money and speeds projects to completion. Digitization in construction improves productivity by making processes more accurate and providing new insights into the processes so people make better decisions.
With few exceptions, whenever you improve productivity, you also reduce costs; you are doing more with less. There is also another aspect of reduced costs—better insights. You can do more with what you have. Taken together, these two aspects of construction digitization offer large reductions in project and business costs.
5D Building Information Modeling
In building the backbone for construction digitization, some sources say 5D BIM is the way to go. By adding the schedule and the budget to building models, users gain a view into projects that can save anywhere from 15% to 25% in costs. Add in geographic information systems linked to LIDAR, drones, and virtual reality, and BIM becomes a platform connecting all the dots of a project in real time.
Light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, helps alert to surprises within the geology of a project. These surprises often cause major budget adjustments before the project is even out of the ground. When used in the city environment or where crews have to limit disturbance to surrounding structures, LIDAR provides detailed views of existing infrastructure. By overlaying the LIDAR 3D images with map information, photos, measurements, and location coordinates, planners and workers gain the bigger picture.
Digital Collaboration Software
There is a high cost to the industry’s continued reliance on paper. Information isn’t shared timely or accurately. Contractors lose valuable insights across projects simply because they can’t easily capture and track metrics. Misplaced paper leads to conflicts and disputes. Going paperless saves time. By replacing it with a collaboration platform where people can share information in real time across mobile devices, you get better project outcomes.
Manufacturers now attach sensors to items destined for the built environment. Other makers are churning out a variety of sensors contractors can use during construction. These sensors alone, though, are not the full story. Without data collection and analysis, the sensors are just dumb collectors. But when contractors collect data from sensors buried in freshly poured concrete and analyze it over time, they can gain useful insights that serve not only the current project but the future ones as well. Similarly, by collecting and analyzing data from multiple lighting sensors, a building owner can make better decisions about building energy use.
Successful construction digitization isn’t merely about replacing paper with digital. It’s about transforming the ways we do business and the ways we build. And it’s definitely high time for your own journey toward going digital to begin.