Change is coming to the construction industry. The era of manual blueprints and laborious construction processes is being rapidly changed by a digital revolution that promises unprecedented efficiency, productivity, and innovation. From Building Information Modeling (BIM) to robotic layout, this wave of technological disruption is reshaping the very foundation of the construction landscape.
Digital transformation empowers construction professionals by making their work easier, safer, and more streamlined. Let’s dive into the basics of digital transformation in the construction industry, and explore how construction companies can use new technologies to reduce rework, compress construction schedules, and improve worker health.
What is Digital Transformation in Construction?
Digital transformation has emerged as the driving force behind a revolution that promises to reshape the very essence of construction practices. This process entails integrating digital technologies, data-driven strategies, and innovative approaches to optimize and enhance various aspects of the construction industry. Through the integration of digital tools, construction companies are redefining efficiency and productivity.
What are the Benefits of Digital Transformation in Construction?
From streamlining project timelines to improving cost management, sustainability, and safety standards, let us discover how this paradigm shift is ushering in a new era of construction excellence.
Attract a Younger Workforce
Digital transformation in the construction industry offers an opportunity to attract and retain a younger and technologically adept workforce. The construction industry is facing a major labor shortage and would benefit from the boost of younger workers. By adopting advanced digital tools and technologies, construction companies can showcase a modern and innovative approach to work.
Reduction of Human Error
One of the most significant benefits of digital transformation in construction is reducing human error. Traditional construction processes often relied heavily on manual layout and paper-based documentation, leaving ample room for mistakes.
However, with the adoption of new technologies, both accuracy and precision are greatly enhanced. Reduction in human error leads to improved project quality, reduced rework, and enhanced client satisfaction.
Less Money and Time Wasted
Digital transformation brings about a remarkable reduction in wasted time and resources, ultimately increasing profitability. By integrating digital platforms and project management software, construction companies can streamline communication, collaboration, and document management processes.
Real-time access to project data, automated workflows, and streamlined information sharing enables teams to work more cohesively. This helps eliminate delays and unnecessary duplication of efforts, which can shorten timelines and schedules.
Improved Site Safety
Safety is paramount in the construction industry, and digital transformation plays a vital role in enhancing site safety measures. New technologies automate repetitive and injury-prone tasks and can provide real-time monitoring and data collection, allowing for early identification and mitigation of potential hazards. By leveraging these digital advancements, construction companies can significantly reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities, fostering a safer working environment.
What are the Common Challenges the Construction Industry is Facing?
Although the construction industry is robust, it is currently facing serious challenges.
Many seasoned construction professionals are nearing retirement age, resulting in a shortage of experienced workers. This issue is exacerbated by early retirements due to injuries sustained on the job from repetitive tasks and unsafe working conditions.
Supply Chain Issues
Construction projects depend on a complex network of suppliers and subcontractors, and any disruptions in the supply chain can lead to significant project delays and increased costs. When installation errors or design changes occur, rework necessitates redundant resources which can worsen supply chain challenges.
Many construction companies still rely on outdated manual processes, resulting in inefficiencies, errors, and delays. The need for staggering construction layout schedules, manual layout processes that result in installation errors and rework, and miscommunication can lead to a lack of collaboration, which further delays installation.
Examples of Digital Transformation in Construction
The following examples of digital transformation in construction demonstrate the vast potential of technology to empower construction companies to stay competitive and deliver projects with increased accuracy and productivity.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) and other digital modeling platforms like Computer-Aided Design (CAD) revolutionize the design and construction process. BIM allows for the creation of a detailed, virtual model of a building, providing each party with real-time access to the centralized design. Digital models enhance coordination, reduce conflicts, and improve project outcomes by facilitating cross-trade conflict identification and providing accurate visualizations and cost estimations.
Robotics and Automation
New robotic technologies automate a variety of construction workflows, including layout. Dusty Robotics FieldPrinter® autonomously prints all trades’ layout directly on the construction site surface in a single pass. Printing the coordinated digital model reduces the risk of manual layout errors and eliminates the potential conflict between trades’ layout. In addition, robotic layout helps protect the health and safety of workers by automating the repetitive physical labor required to manually mark the floor thousands of times a day. With safer workflows, cross-trade collaboration, and accurate layout, installation can start sooner and without the need for rework.
Cloud-based platforms provide secure and centralized storage of project data, facilitating real-time collaboration, information sharing, and access from any location or device. Construction teams can share and work on the latest project documents simultaneously, eliminating version control issues and improving communication efficiency.
Mobile and Field Technologies
Construction professionals can now leverage mobile applications to access project data, update plans, submit reports, capture progress photos, and communicate with team members in real-time. Mobile technologies enable on-site collaboration, streamline communication channels, and enhance data accuracy.
What Are the Risks of Not Undergoing a Digital Transformation?
What happens if your construction company is reluctant to engage in a digital transformation? Here are some of the risks of ignoring these new technologies.
Inability to Attract New Workers
The construction industry is facing a significant demographic shift and a shortage of skilled professionals. With a digital transformation, construction companies will be able to attract younger workers who are technologically adept and expect a modern work environment. Moreover, without embracing digital tools and technologies that enhance safety measures, the industry may find it challenging to address safety concerns effectively.
Higher Construction Costs
Manual processes are prone to errors and rework, significantly inflating project budgets. Additionally, the absence of digital project management tools and platforms can hinder effective cost control, procurement, and resource management, contributing to budget overruns.
Reduced Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is crucial for gaining repeat business and referrals, and not undergoing a digital transformation puts this at risk. Traditional construction processes often lack transparency, communication, and real-time project updates, leading to delays and mismanaged expectations. Clients may experience frustration due to delays and bloated construction budgets.
Adapting to the Digital Transformation to Secure Your Competitive Edge
The benefits of embracing digital transformation are abundantly clear in the face of a rapidly evolving construction landscape. Digital transformation has the potential to improve construction project delivery, reduce costs, minimize errors, enhance collaboration, and drive innovation. It streamlines processes, enables better resource management, enhances safety, and facilitates more informed decision-making throughout the construction lifecycle.
These advancements not only optimize construction processes but also attract a younger workforce and address safety concerns.
Discover how Skanska, one of the world’s largest construction and development companies, used robotic layout technology to reduce rework by 75% and shave 3 weeks off the construction schedule.