Since I first began Marketing for clients in the construction industry, I’ve seen new technologies slowly creeping into offices, vehicles, and job sites. They influence how companies communicate, estimate, market, and operate in the office and on-site. For business owners keeping an eye on the bottom line, choosing wisely when committing time or money when investing in the potential upside tech can offer.
Advancements can only come from fully understanding the benefits a new software, tool, or device can provide companies for both the short and long term. Many technologies have already had time to prove themselves within the industry through mass adaptation, and the benefits they bring are noticeable. One example is a basic CRM or Client Relationship Management. Gone are the days of the Rolodex. Today we can track our marketing efforts, conversion to our websites, and first contact. Once a new client has been entered into our systems, we can track every conversation from bid to closeout. For most companies, CRMs were an easy adaptation to day-to-day operations, but what about other solutions? Here are the top 3 tech innovations I believe will impact the industry soon.
Think of the 3D printing machines you’ve seen on a small scale and imagine the same technology applied to a job site on a much grander scale. Extruded concrete and plastics are already being used to create building components and structures. Apis Cor, a San Francisco-based startup, recently 3D printed concrete walls for a residential home in under 24 hours. In Dubai, robotic arms and 3D printing were used to construct the world’s first office building. There’s no doubt that 3D printing could make its’ way onto job sites in the future, but more likely, we’ll begin seeing architects 3D printing their designs for clients in real-time.
Mobile Apps and Devices
Compared to the adoption of CRMs, Mobile Devices and Apps are arguably the most regularly integrated new technology in the workforce. More frequently, Projects Managers, supervisors, and Engineers are making their way through projects with a tablet in hand. Connected to a larger network or software, the devices provide real-time updates, plan reading, and communication, making project monitoring easier. This can improve schedules, safety, and profit margin.
Many companies have begun integrating cloud-based software, like Procore, which allows controls for items like RFI’s, submittals, transmittals, document management, and meeting minutes. The same software offers a quick review of projects from anywhere with its ability to upload photos, punch lists, schedules, and daily logs.
This helps marketing professionals review project photos to understand where the project phase is currently, allowing us to manage photography and social media updates better.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) have been a topic of recent debate, primarily due to misuse and inexperience; however, in the right hands and situation, drones can provide benefits to your projects. With recent advancements in camera technology, safety systems, GPS tracking, and FAA pilot requirements, drones are becoming a natural alternative for some contractors regarding inspections, modeling, and marketing. Some companies are now integrating drone technology into architectural plans, allowing for real-time 3D photography of a project at any stage of construction.
Drone use on job sites should be monitored and executed only by experienced, well-trained pilots. The safety implications of novice pilots operating around construction sites, materials, and equipment like cranes can be problematic. However, pilots with advanced training and flight hours can be an asset.
Other trends you can expect to see going forward include wearable technology, GPS tracking on equipment, laser scanning, and a more integrated internet. New technologies will inevitably continue to shape the way you operate. Choosing the best methods and options to integrate into your businesses will be both challenging and rewarding for the foreseeable future of the construction industry.