The future of construction has to be shaped by modern digital applications designed to address the opportunities and challenges of the future. It cannot be based on the tools of yesterday. Unlike other sectors, however, the construction industry hasn’t been keeping pace with digitalisation. This needs to change for the sector to reap the benefits of innovation.
Industries don’t integrate technology at a uniform pace. Some would find it easier due to structural advantages whereas others would be burdened by operational complexity. But these cannot be excuses to postpone technology adoption. Construction sites, despite their intricate problems, need to use modern digital applications because they offer demonstrable advantages.
For better project management
Project management is a complex task in construction due to several factors but it’s one of the basic aspects that need to be digitally optimised. The main challenges in project management arise from the difficulty in coordination between the field and all other stakeholders. Since this is conventionally done on paper, it’s inherently tedious and unproductive.
By deploying modern digital applications in construction, documentation becomes easier. Managers, engineers, architects, contractors, and clients can get real-time digital updates. It also helps all stakeholders anticipate problems, which will help them manage them better.
For better planning
Construction businesses, especially small-scale and independent operations, still depend on outdated planning methods mostly done on paper. The result is systemic inefficiencies resulting in project delays and bottom-line pressures. This makes firms less competitive and prevents them from bidding for additional projects.
Digitalisation can aid construction planning across stages. Survey estimates and ground realities can match better with additional and relevant data. Using 3-D laser scanning, high-definition photography, and 5-D modelling software, engineers and contractors will be able to come up with more accurate representations and share them with the client.
According to a report from McKinsey, annual productivity growth in the construction industry over the past 20 years was only a third of total economy averages. Profitability is low, at around 5 per cent EBIT margin, despite high risks and many insolvencies. Customer satisfaction is hampered by regular time and budget overruns and lengthy claims procedures.
Digital tools can help create more accurate estimates, which will make the process more transparent. Procurement from marketplaces will reduce volatility in supply chains. More robust coordination systems will also reduce project delays. All these will lead to cost efficiencies.
For improved productivity
The conventional processes in construction are siloed and disjointed. Every project comes with its own risks and challenges, which makes it a challenge to standardise and streamline processes, unlike in other industries including media, retail, and manufacturing.
Digital applications can improve productivity by streamlining processes from pre-construction planning to scheduling and field reporting. Teams can share documents, updates, and other requirements with everyone in the system in real-time online. By removing bottlenecks and improving collaboration, digitalisation increases productivity.
Like other industries, it’s now the construction sector’s turn to deploy digital applications to be more innovative, competitive, and productive.