Technology is making inroads into the construction industry. This has not been a rapid process but as the benefits of IT become clearer, and as technology develops new ways to serve and improve, the construction sector, change is likely to accelerate.
Construction has been hampered by low productivity and has not always appeared to be willing to embrace technology. There is now a realisation in the industry that change through technology is not optional. It is crucial if the industry is to survive and thrive in the 21st century. When it comes to reducing risk, digital is a clear way to help maintain profit margins.
Delta Comtech’s Carl Enser explains, “For many building projects, risk has increased with the move to mixed-use sites and the introduction of penalty clauses for missed deadlines and other delays. Profits can be diminished by delays and inaccuracies, and by poor communication in general. The challenge of keeping business profitable can be met by improving communications and project management through the use of technology. For example, the whole process of liaising with multiple sites and different clients and contractors can be consolidated through mobile technology.”
The growing use of smartphones and tablets is enabling there to be a much more joined-up approach to the business of construction, within building firms themselves, and in liaising with architects, engineers and clients.
App development for this sector is expanding, and there are now many project management and online collaborative tools to choose from, including the means to share files, plans and drawings without the use of native programmes. Cloud computing has freed up the need for large on-site data storage and servers and has further enabled the spread of a sharing and collaborative digital culture.
The future holds more extensive digital involvement in the construction industry, particularly with the growth of Building Information Modelling (BIM). This process involves the creation and use of digital modelling to plan and construct buildings. Already BIM is set to be mandatory for all central government projects from 2016.
“BIM has been on a relatively small scale so far,” concludes Carl. “It is set to rise as part of an overall increased adoption of IT within the construction industry. Technology will help to generate savings, improve profit margins and bring a much needed boost to productivity.”
Property Aspects Magazine would like to thank Carl Enser for his contribution to this article.