“As more young people enter the construction industry, they expect technology,” said an international firm that works with contractors to develop IT solutions. “Estimating, project managing, and scheduling using state of the art tools are all they’ve ever known. There’s pressure from within the company to automate and adopt new technologies. You can’t compete otherwise,” said Christian Burger, from Burger Consulting Group.
They have compiled a list of seven areas where technology should be expanded in the construction industry.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM allows you to see your project, built and complete, in situ, using augmented reality tools. Technology such as the DAQRI Smart Helmet, is a wearable augmented reality system that allows the wearer to walk the job site and see the project as it is, as it will be when framed, when utilities are added, when sheathing is added, when it’s finished.
Drone technology can create maps of the site that are part of the modeling, and blueprints are fed into the system. While it’s not all futuristic helmets yet, BIM is radically changing how builders interact with their projects, and the sky is the limit.
Some reports project that construction is the next big industry to be targeted by cyber criminals “because of the heavy increase in users, distributed environments (job sites), and relatively lax protocols,” says Burger Consulting Group. The rise in the use of handheld devices demands a strong security protocol in the background.
Project Management Software
New software is being developed and released that allows increase the ability to collaborate and communicate. A single interface can allow the contractor, architect, engineer, and owner to look at project status and schedule. It can handle everything from bidding, scheduling, specs, drawings, photos, and even on-line meetings.
“Software like this has increased transparency,” said Burger. “At any given time, you know who has accountability for what activities.”
Human Resource Tools
The construction industry has HR challenges with training, onboarding, recruiting, and asset management, which frees up a company’s time to work on more pressing matters. hh2 Cloud Services has a human resource tool that handles just these kinds of problems. Its convenient, easy-to-use interface gives your HR administrator quick access to emergency contacts, evaluations, certifications, classifications, payroll history, accruals and raise requests. Permissions can be granted to allow managers and employees to access features important to them.
Estimating software is how I got into the construction industry, using Weyerhaeuser’s old TJ-Xpert, TJ-Beam and Javelin software to spec the right-sized materials for the right projects. With Javelin, we could draw the entire building in the computer, and not only generate a list of needed materials, but make sure that the building would be up-to-code. And that was fifteen years ago. The world of estimating software is not only poised to take construction by storm, but it already is.
Customer Relationship Management
When it comes to the construction industry, CRM software has to be better than your average sales program. It has to keep a customer happy through the project, from beginning to end. A small contractor may not have the time and expertise to manually track potential leads, and a large contractor may need a robust system to handle hundreds—even thousands of current and potential customers.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Burger’s last bit of advice is simply the simple. Technology on the job site needs to be rugged enough to handle the rough-and-tumble world of construction—everything from iPads and smartphones to laptops and desktops.