• William Boll

Digital Transformation: The Future of Connected Construction In Times of Crisis

COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic hit the construction industry hard, as it did the rest of the economy. The Construction Industry Association says that construction employment in 326 out of 358 metropolitan areas declined in the second quarter of 2020. Few areas were left unscathed. The pandemic is prompting many construction owners to halt projects out of fear or economic necessity. But we are turning the corner.

As construction restarts, along with other areas of the U.S. economy, it is abundantly clear that digital transformation will lead the way and help strengthen the construction industry in the coming years. Construction companies must meet a variety of mandatory safety standards. Technologies such as remote inspection tools like drones can help companies meet these needs. But like similar initiatives in the past, the construction industry has largely been extremely slow to adopt digital innovations compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world.

COVID-19 as the Construction Industry Accelerator Many federal, regional, provincial and state governments see the need for technology in construction in response to the growing demand for housing, spurred by a fast-growing economy and urbanization. While the construction industry is ripe for digitalization, many construction organizations in North America have been hesitant to begin a digital transformation to improve their operational excellence, yet throughout the rest of the world construction companies have identified this as key priority to drive much-needed changes. While construction companies are quickly learning best practices from their peers in more developed markets, which includes knowledge of technology investments, such as BIM and its benefits. there is also a top-down approach to technology adoption that is being driven by top management. There is now a stronger push to develop a cloud strategy among construction companies and to digitalize data, operations and customer engagement.

Incorporating Digital Transformation into a Building Model By incorporating digital transformation, construction companies can ensure operational excellence and improved customer engagement by effectively managing risk, completing projects on time and on budget, improving workforce safety and supporting infrastructure growth across world economies. Companies that have made the transformation are bringing new innovations into their businesses. The construction industry has yet to fully reap the benefits of digitalizationSome of the key benefits are:

  1. Connected construction - Cloud-based software and mobile apps ease collaboration among all stakeholders, from design to construction and inspection for better reporting and documentation, quality assurance and control.

  2. Safety and risk management - digital transformation can be utilized for proactive onsite safety and risk management through offsite manufacturing, along with predictive maintenance.

  3. Supply chain management - the construction industry is augmented by better software solutions for hiring workers and procurement of equipment and materials. By matching supply with demand, construction companies have the chance to optimize the supply chain and increase overall productivity, as well as to improve the transparency of competitive bidding. Automation and informed decision-making from a single source of truth for construction projects can lead to improved workflow, lowered costs, better resource management and faster turn- around times.

  4. Collaboration in construction management - Collaboration and effective communication in construction are central factors in successful projects. Large projects require numerous disciplines and extensive project teams including the architect, engineers, consultants, construction manager, other design disciplines and the general contractor along with specialty contractors.

  5. Creation of offsite, prefabricated materials and modular construction continue to gain popularity, addressing time constraints and costs.

Transformation Doesn’t Happen Overnight For most construction companies, complete digital transformation will take time. Making digital solutions easy to access and use, and providing adequate training to help workers develop the necessary technical skills will be essential to enabling the adoption of new technologies and processes. Additionally, stakeholder buy-in will enable firms to allocate budget to new digital tools and platforms.

About nVolve Technologies nVolve Technologies, like many others, has at its heart transformative and massively deployable innovation. We create new technologies and processes to help this industry to transition to a new global economy, one that is shaped by the green, sustainable materials, better-built structures using ordinary labor, decarbonisation, design/architect/build digitization, mass customization, servitisation, greater use of a circular economy methodology and resource efficiency. We operate in the U.S. along with research and development technology partners in Finland. We also have global partnerships with the leading green/eco/sustainable universities and research centers.

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