The Future of the Construction Industry is Upon Us

Patrick Buckley    4 February, 2021

Cost overruns, delays, work-related accidents and expensive misunderstandings are everyday challenges which continue to plague the construction industry worldwide. In today’s post, we explore how the construction industry can too benefit from undergoing a digital transformation, as we take a look at how technology can lead to efficiency gains in many daily procedures and protocols. 

Counting the Cost

Everybody knows that cost overruns in construction projects are a painfully common occurrence. According to a 2015 survey published by the leading financial consultancy group KPMG, only 31% of all projects surveyed came within 10% of their original costing plan. Spiralling costs can happen for a variety of reasons, but as this report points out, poor project management tends to stand out as the main one.

So how can solutions of the Internet of Things ( IoT) help keep a lid on costs? Firstly, Asset Tracking technology can help Project Managers keep track of the various components that make up a project, from the materials to the workforce. 

IoT devices can be used to help managers monitor deliveries. Managers can know the status of each material and can therefore act dynamically to organise the workforce accordingly. This maximises productivity and minimises delays.

Say, for example, a project manager in London gets to know that a supply of bespoke doors produced in France has been delayed in transit at the border. With this information he may decide to instruct the workforce to install another component that day. This allows for the dynamic mobilisation of the workforce. Overtime this eliminates the deadweight loss associated with a stationary workforce.

In the same way, IoT connected devices planted on the uniforms of construction workers can be used to measure their productivity throughout the day. Through movement monitoring data, managers can ensure that the correct amount of time off is exploited by each employee. This, if used correctly, could lead to a fairer and more productive career progression system. Managers could use this data to promote only the most productive workers to more senior roles. Subsequently, this would facilitate the development of only the most competent of teams.

Keeping Workers Safe on Site

In all sites, but especially on large scale projects, the location of those onsite must be known at all times. This can be achieved Through the utilisation of IoT connected devices on uniforms. As described above, the location of each employee can be easily identified in the event of an emergency such as an accident or dangerous event happening on site. 

In many countries around the world, construction firms have a legal obligation to safeguard the wellbeing of their employees. An employee tracking system would be a simple and effective way to manage this liability.

The Future of AI in Construction – BIM 

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a tool powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) which allows all agents to monitor project progress. Whether they be the architect, project manager or chief engineer, the status of the project can be visually explored through a digitally enhanced computer-generated model.

This solution gives real-time progress insights by allowing agents to input data and virtually simulate the building process.

In this way, design flaws can be automatically picked up by algorithms which are programmed to understand potential hazards or impacts. These could come from changes in design, construction method or materials. Expensive and timely mistakes can therefore be prevented from occurring in real life.

Final Thoughts

As we enter a new era of digitalisation, construction companies around the world have the new-found ability to overcome some of the challenges associated with previous management practices. Principally, the centralised digital management of both materials and the workforce will lead to great efficiency gains, enhancing on site productivity and safety.

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