The construction industry is booming. Businesses are breaking ground in new locations everywhere, and companies are allocating resources to overdue renovations on existing properties. There’s no better environment for construction companies looking to differentiate themselves and set themselves apart from the competition. Many firms are doing this by integrating innovative breakthrough technology into their projects and processes. By embracing technology and using the latest gizmos, gadgets, and programs to enhance your business, you give your construction company a competitive edge. In some cases technology will save you money, increase productivity, or display a higher level of professionalism; in other cases, it will do all of these things. Here are some technologies that will help your company shine:
Business Information Modeling (BIM)
Building Information Modeling is a problem-solving process that improves communication and clarity among all parties involved in a design / build. Unsurprisingly, construction companies are integrating BIM into their processes at an increasing rate. BIM can enhance efficiency by creating a “Single Source of the Truth” that allows digital files to seamlessly move from Design to the contractors and professionals involved with the build. There is a lot of debate surrounding the true definition of BIM, with many arguing 3D, 4D, or 5D models must be involved; but at its essence, BIM defines the entire process that can include basic logistics or facility management models.
Within the larger BIM context, however, the models combine the traditional 3D models with the two primary factors that determine the success of any construction project: time (4th dimension) & money (5th dimension).
Project Management Information Systems (PMIS)
While Business Information Modeling technology focuses on a cohesive process, Project Management Information Systems technology involves sets of individual tools that can assist with your construction projects. Think of PMIS as a subsection of BIM technology. Like BIM technology, PMIS technology solutions vary based on your company’s size and budget. Many of the project management solutions include tools that allow users to sketch ideas, make blueprints, create budgets, create invoices, and more. These programs may be web-based or installed on your desktop computers, and provide capabilities such as emailing team members or clients documentation. Some programs even offer real time collaboration with team members, clients, and architects.
Ultimately, program management software allows you to be more efficient by having everything in one central location. When you implement PMIS, you are able to offer more accurate estimates and more easily keep track of project costs. These programs also allow for the secure collection of data so you can more accurately evaluate progress on your construction projects. Further, you can increase productivity by remotely supervising workers, increase transparency during project collaboration, and improve communication between workers and clients.
Implementing 3D printing remains expensive, but the long-term savings still make it a valuable technology for construction companies to utilize. You can use 3D printing two main ways in your construction company: create small-scale models for clients and potential clients or create building materials to use for construction.
Using a 3D printer to create a model home, building, or development gives clients and potential clients a tangible experience with your vision. It gives clients the opportunity to address any issues they have prior to construction, and allows you another avenue to evaluate the project before constructing the full-scale version. This step may allow you to catch errors and fix them before running into problems during construction.
Products from a 3D printer that are used as construction materials are less expensive and they are better for the environment because they preserve lumber. The overall cost effectiveness of building with a 3D printer may allow those who rent to find buying a home more affordable.
Safety remains the number one concern on most construction sites today. Accidents cost money in terms of property damage, worker injuries or death, and throwing a project off track. Introducing wearable technology to construction sites makes them “smart” and exponentially increases safety like nothing before. Wearables are smart devices that attach to a construction worker’s body, clothing, or gear. Some devices are built in to things such as helmets and glasses.
These wearable devices can track vital statistics such as activity and heart rate and alert a worker if he is in physical danger. Biometric wearables utilize things such as fingerprints and retina scans to keep a job site secure. Some devices also track environmental conditions and will send an alert for job hazards that may be around the site. Many devices are also equipped with GPS locators and some have emergency buttons that a worker may push so they can get help immediately. Not only does this allow for easy search and rescue in the case of a fall or injury, but it allows those in charge to make sure workers are where they are supposed to be.
In the past incorporating robotics into construction has been a challenge because construction sites are uncontrolled environments compared to industrial spaces like factories and warehouses. Yet, as the most labor-intensive industry, construction companies can benefit from robotics to help reduce costs and maintain standards of quality. Robotics solutions for construction companies do not, and probably will never, replace human workers. Instead, they offer a way to collaborate that protects workers from injury while increasing productivity.
Pioneers in robotics for construction have created a brick-laying machine that increases productivity up to five times, as well as a lift assist device to help place heavy items during construction. In addition to increasing safety, these types of devices aid in high precision work with designs and patterns, which saves time and allows more creativity on the design side of things.
The popularity of drone usage in the construction industry continues to increase because of the varied ways the innovative technology can be used on construction projects. Before building even begins, drone usage can give you a thorough site analysis that is often easier to get than images from Google Maps. Similarly, drones can fly into places and spaces that may be difficult to reach for human workers, resulting in quick and accurate measurements. This saves dozens of man-hours while increasing safety by keeping workers out of areas that may be dangerous.
Drones also give managers and supervisors the opportunity to oversee their construction sites in real time, as well as track the progress of a project over time. This efficient and easy oversight frees up managers and supervisors for other project-related tasks. Drone photography can also help construction companies on critically-important client satisfaction metrics. You can easily share drone imagery with clients to give them progress updates and answer any questions they may have about the project.
There may be no better way to attract young, innovative technophiles to join your construction company that implementing virtual reality (VR). Virtual reality, a staple of the gaming industry, has entered the real world, including the construction industry. Construction companies can use 4D virtual reality models to give clients and owners the opportunity to immerse themselves in a planned construction environment, often supplemented with drone footage. This is especially helpful during planning and design stages where you may be working out details.
Although virtual reality used to be primarily used only by cutting edge tech companies, business owners are increasingly utilizing this technology tool to set them apart from competition. These 4D environments give construction companies the capability to plan their projects from start to finish while improving safety, productivity, efficiency, quality, and client satisfaction.
Cloud & SAAS
Although most construction company owners know the value of going digital, a good portion of the construction industry is still using fax machines, printed paperwork, and putting projects in physical binders. For those who are holding out because of resistance to change, most of the world has gone digital, so embracing technology will allow for seamless communication within and outside of your company. When money is an issue, it becomes important to consider the cost savings of going digital which include savings such as:
- Reduced paper usage which is also better for the environment
- No need to buy phones or fax machines that connect to the wall
- Less of a need for file cabinets, pens, pencils, and other physical costs of maintaining paper files
Several web-based programs and applications exist to help you run your business; some digital solutions include customizing a program that fits your needs. The cloud solution for your company will depend on your company size and budget, but most solutions include accounting, budgeting, scheduling, documentation, and more.
If you’d like to learn more, please check out some of our other drone photography tutorials, or simply follow dronegenuity on our social media channels: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates.