When it comes to the construction industry, “slow to change” is often used to describe the mentality toward information technology in the field. Yet, with the advanced GPS, virtual reality building tours, and wearable technology to enhance safety protocols, information technology has seemingly embraced the construction industry with open arms.
From drones that offer rebar tying for faster, safer placement to wirelessly monitoring your concrete cure, information technology is really giving construction supervisors a lot to talk about. Yet, with as much new technology that is out there, there has yet to be the surge in construction site automation that one would expect to see. What about information technology is leaving the construction industry hesitant to embrace the latest and greatest tech trends?
GPS and heavy equipment
One of the tech trends that has gone over fairly well in the construction industry is the use of telematics to manage equipment. However, with all of the tools that telematics can lend to site supervisors, it seems as though only the bare minimum information reporting is taking place. Although 73% of construction site managers are using the GPS telematics to track location on their heavy equipment, only 28% are using it to manage equipment maintenance.
With the ability to automate all of the scheduling, tracking, and inspections at the touch of a button, why isn’t this the successful trend it was expected to be? First, a lot of construction supervisors aren’t aware of all of the tools that telematics offers. They know that they can find a machine that has disappeared from a customer site, but they aren’t aware that they can handle their entire preventative maintenance program on their equipment from their cell phone.
Secondly, time constraints are always a huge issue in construction. Most construction supervisors are on the job site from sunup to sundown 6 days a week just to ensure that the job is on track to meet deadlines. They can’t find the initial time to invest in the setup of the telematics to reap the benefits further down the road. The ability to quickly sort through the relevant data and purge the remainder is a tool that most in the construction industry hope to see addressed by IT so it can streamline and simplify the use of telematics on heavy equipment.
Technology and safety
One of the greatest benefits that tech has delivered to the construction industry is increased safety via gadgets and tech tools. A perfect example of this is the energized conductor detector that protects site workers from electrocution. Highway road crews will soon see improvements in their safety thanks to connected vehicle technology allowing infrastructure to communicate to drivers that they are not adhering to the safety advice and signage entering construction zones.
These are the technological tools that could save a number of lives in the construction industry, and have been necessary for years. As the tools are making their way from the lab to the job site, it is almost certain that the impact on the construction industry should be a visible improvement in a short time.
Mobile device site management
In terms of saving time and money, mobile device technology more than delivers on that promise to construction site managers. The ability to access blueprints, receive signed change orders on the job, and issue progress reports to clients are a welcome change to the old methods. Instead of leaving the site to print and ready documents for signature and update drawings, it is as simple as a few adjustments to a PDF, and a signature on a cell phone screen.
For construction supervisors who are constantly racing against the clock to beat deadlines, this is technology that can expect a warm welcome in the construction industry. As mobile site management gains a foothold on job sites, digital drawings and signatures are anticipated to ease some of the workload on construction supervisors and keep them where they belong; on the job site.
What was once thought of as a futuristic tech tool has now become mainstream with the more affordable virtual reality technology. Instead of walking a client through drawings and explaining scale, virtual tours deliver a true picture of the building model. From residential to corporate, clients can see your vision and any changes can be discussed before groundbreaking takes place.
Plans and drawings aren’t the only area that virtual reality is working to bring the construction industry into the modern technological forefront. Virtual reality heavy equipment training is allowing employees to be trained as though they are in the cab before the engine turns over. This is phenomenal tech in terms of reducing accidents and equipment damage that is incurred by under trained employees jumping into the cab with minimal equipment training under their belt.
There seems to be no limit to the safety and cost reduction tools that IT hopes to deliver to the construction industry. From increasing employee safety to ensuring heavy equipment is properly maintained, IT is looking to lend a helping hand to the construction industry to bring it to the new age in tech.