Technology is empowering contractors with access to real-time information anytime, anywhere from any device
The global construction spectrum is undergoing an extensive transformation. Though 2020 instilled uncertainty all over the world, businesses have started to recover again, paving the way for better opportunities in the pipeline.
This recovery cycle also comes with an extraordinary pressure on construction players due to competitive bids and lack of skilled labor, compelling developers to run projects understaffed with tighter deadlines. As a proactive approach, Engineering, Construction & Infrastructure enterprises (EC&O) are trying to unwind the pressure by embracing advanced construction management technology.
Technology & Construction
Technology is a proven enabler of growth in the construction industry. It's helping infra players improve their existing operations and legacy practices. Some of these technological trends, like digitization, cloud-based software solutions, drones, etc., are widely adopted due to their ability to improve collaboration between site teams, office staff, contractors, and project owners.
Also, they can experience advancements related to productivity, information sharing, and sustainability while driving secure data capture practices.
However, many construction companies and contractors are not able to or not willing to upgrade their operational practices. A report shared by McKinsey & Company showed a drop in productivity during the last 20 years for the construction sector. On the other hand, the manufacturing industry has sustained to leverage technology for their business benefits through enhanced productivity.
The Role of Construction Technology in the Last Decade
The global construction industry witnessed growth from USD 7,200 billion in 2010 to USD 11,217.4 billion in 2019 and then taking a drop to USD 10,566.8 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic. Presently, the construction industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors across the globe. The need for advanced infrastructure development has opened the way for many opportunities. While the industry grew over the past decade, it also witnessed considerable downtime due to some unexpected highs and lows.
Whether it is the current pandemic, the global recession, demand crisis, inflation and more, the construction industry has had a huge impact on GDP, causing loss of business, jobs, and overall position of the construction industry in the past decade. However, the active efforts of the construction companies and technology were major contributors that helped the recovery. The large-scale adoption of advanced construction project management software technology helped construction firms drive productivity while streamlining everything from supply chain to project management.
Impact of Technology on Construction Functions
Infrastructure and construction technology has positively impacted many functions for on-premises and off-premises operations of a project:
Accounting & Reporting
In times of recession, most contractors lost grip on cash flow due to old-school legacy practices and outdated systems. However, the advent of advanced construction accounting tools has simplified operational processes, providing real-time checks on data and reporting.
Budgeting & Planning
The modern-day project management software allows contractors to take full command over all financial data and expenses. The entire function of budgeting and planning becomes much easier with these tools. From allocating the budget to measuring the backup resources, these solutions allow project managers to ensure smooth progress.
Project management solutions like ERP systems, BIM or Virtual Design systems, workflow automation tools, etc., have empowered contractors to benefit from an improved and more intuitive experience working toward project management goals. These tools have helped the industry with time tracking, communicating, documenting, and field productivity management.
Contractors who were reluctant to use construction software to manage their labor resources often struggled with overpayments and time theft issues. On the other hand, deploying a construction ERP solution is helping project managers monitor productivity hours to ensure no cost buildups are endured on labor resources.
Technology is empowering contractors with access to real-time information anytime, anywhere from any device. This has significantly disrupted and improved the tedious chain of command and related information churn. With 93% of contractors using smartphones, project owners and managers could easily keep in tandem with them regarding existing and upcoming project progress.
Walking Towards the Future
The construction companies have a strong inclination towards legacy practices and are more likely to stick with the traditional techniques that are more guesswork than data-driven. However, the reality is that the new-age technology enables contractors to gauge the financial impacts in real-time while working on sustainable productivity. Hence, we can expect more hyper-automation software making its way to the infrastructure sector, helping them recover, regrow and revolutionize the industry even more.
The author is Head - Technology & Innovation at Highbar Technocrat