What is Driving the Technology Revolution?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “revolutionize” as to change something radically or completely.
What would drive the revolution of the construction industry when the basic outcomes will remain the same? Basic infrastructure needs have evolved, but have not dramatically changed. The truth is, the construction industry is undergoing a major revolution as the industry identifies and works to address the challenges it faces now and those of the future.
The main drivers behind this revolution are inefficiency in both on-site productivity and off-site collaboration, labor concerns (including less than optimum productivity, increasing costs and labor shortages) and increased scrutiny of site safety. The industry is looking to technology to help solve these problems.
With key stakeholders including architects, engineers and foremen often widely dispersed, the construction industry has historically struggled to compile and share project information, – faced challenges compiling critical data on-site and sharing data back to the head-office (Mckinsey & Company). This is where digital collaboration tools, such as Giatec’s web-based 360 platform, are being utilized to collect information at the project site and make it available to other stakeholders at the head-office. Not only do these tools improve collaboration amongst project stakeholders; but, they also allow for real-time transmission of data from the project site.
According to a 2017 McKinsey & Company report, the construction industry is one of the world’s largest sectors, with approximately $10 Trillion in annual spending. But, the industry lags behind others in evolving. With a revolution of the construction industry there is an opportunity to increase the value added by approximately $1.6 Trillion annually. McKinsey reports that through digitization, productivity will be increased and that without this increased productivity the industry will not be able to keep up with the global infrastructure needs of the future.
The industry’s productivity challenges coupled with the well-known increasing labor shortages of the industry make for a scary future absent a revolution of the construction industry. The industry has struggled for at least the last 10-years to attract and retain skilled trades – this shortage has increased the project costs associated with skilled trades workers.
This shortage of labor and the associated increasing costs has caused the industry to look beyond the labor market for solutions – naturally focusing on technology. Technologies including embedded sensors, like Giatec’s SmartRock product, are being utilized to boost productivity on the job-site. Other solutions include drones and robots which are increasingly being used on job-sites performing such activities as data collection and simple repetitive tasks. It’s expected that construction job sites will see increased utilization of these types of tools as we move into the future.
How Technology is Revolutionizing Safety in Construction
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we are seeing a necessary revolution of how the construction industry manages safety on the job-site. Construction remains one of the deadliest occupations in our society.
In 2016, of 4,963 worker deaths reported 991 (approximately one fifth) were in construction (ConstructConnect). As the industry begins to adopt technology in other areas, it is also looking at how technology can be utilized to increase worker safety on the job-site. Some solutions that are already being utilized include virtual reality, wearable and sensor technology. These technologies help to reduce worker exposure to risks, alert workers to risks and improve PPE when workers must be exposed.
It’s clear to see we are on the verge of an exciting revolution of the construction industry. Construction sites 10 years from now will look very different from the construction sites of the past, or even of today. Giatec is proud to be at the forefront of this revolution with our SmartRock product increasing both productivity and site safety by providing real-time data on concrete curing. We look forward to what the future of our technology can bring to the future of the industry.