The Importance of Technology in Construction
It is no secret that technology is constantly evolving and rapidly changing the landscape of many different industries. This ranges from increasing the efficiency of day-to-day operations to manufacturing new and advanced high-tech products. Typically, it’s the companies that have the ability to adapt and embrace technological change that ultimately survive the competitive business climate.
Historically, the overall construction industry has been slow to integrate change into their business models. However, early adopters understand the benefits of embracing new technological advancements as they look to gain an edge on their competition. In order to compete, companies should look to shift toward technology that can be a strategic long term asset.
Technology is changing the industry in two key ways:
Creating more efficient day-to-day operations
Efficiencies in technology have dramatically increased in just the last decade. In a short period of time, businesses adapted quickly to incorporate first computers, then dial-up internet and now internet accessibility through a tap on a smartphone. This is a significant change that has made information and communication quick and accessible. The construction industry is no different.
Rusty Linkous, director of business development at Linkous Construction Co., Inc., was recently quoted in the Memphis Business Journal saying that “communication has been the biggest change in recent years, especially with modern Personal Digital Assistants.”
Gone are the days when project managers would manually draw up project outlines, lists, illustrations, and tasks for their teams. Mobile technology and project management software has allowed them to do this much more efficiently than in previous years. These digital records make it much easier to keep constant communication with workers, simulate 3-D models of the projects, and even control costs on the jobsite. Adopting these technologies make for a less fragmented and more streamlined operation.
Shifting toward smarter building structures
A big trend in the construction industry today is retrofitting outdated buildings with more advanced structures. Retrofitting involves adjusting or replacing old infrastructure in existing buildings with new technology to improve performance. This could include numerous internal upgrades such as replacing lighting systems, installing internal climate sensors and outfitting the building with a state-of-the-art building automation system.
A building automation system, or BAS, is a centralized control system which monitors an entire building’s functionality including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), lighting systems, and often water, fire and life safety. In outdated buildings, these systems are often not interconnected, which can lead to energy-waste. Many contractors are now decreasing inefficiencies by integrating all of these functions into a unified system, which often drives down building costs as well as energy consumption.
Despite reluctance by some in the construction industry to change, consumer pressure to keep up with demand of smart designs and structures will ultimately dictate a shift to new technologies for many companies. According to Elijah Brumback of Crain’s Detroit Business, “clients are smarter, have greater expectations and often require the use of advanced systems.” “They’re also demanding greater tracking of activities on the job site for the purposes of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, for example.”
Companies that adapt and adopt these practices will be the ones that thrive as the industry evolves. The construction industry, like many others, is on the brink of a shift in the way business and operations are carried out. By embracing these changes and technological disruption, this time can be an exciting one for the industry as we move forward into 2015.