The construction business nails it with digital technology on the work site.
The worldwide engineering and construction business is not only one of the largest global economic sectors, but it’s also one of the least efficient – with average productivity growth shuffling along at about 1% annually for the past 20 years.
By embracing today’s data-driven technology plus mobile computing, cloud computing, and big data gathering, it is estimated that the construction business could realize over $1.5 trillion in cost savings.
BIM makes a bang in the construction industry.
One of the most exciting areas of construction-specific technology is called BIM, for Building Information Modeling. BIM brings three game-changing assets to the builder’s construction site.
First, blueprints and diagrams are all but eliminated. Now builders, architects, engineers, and construction workers can see and share 3D renderings on tablets and even smartphones anywhere on the job site and back in the office. This allows for instant collaboration and brainstorming whenever a new challenge pops up.
Secondly, BIM allows everyone on the project to see more than just what the construction should look like. It helps them visualize how to build it, rather than making it up as they go along.
Finally, BIM allows all sizes of construction companies to harness big data to give them the information and feedback needed to work efficiently and effectively. To that end, many companies traditionally in the IT arena are now branching out into construction. They see that their knowledge can radically change the construction business.
You can’t beat those rugged laptops.
Going hand-in-hand with the rise of technology on the construction site is the wide availability of “ruggedized” laptops and tablets.
Initially developed for the military and extreme users, ruggedized devices are either custom-made or now, standard product-line offerings. These laptops and tablets have been designed inside and out to operate in harsh environments. Not only are the external parts much stronger and more durable than the standard device, but the unseen internal components are also designed for rough use — perfect for the rough conditions found on a construction site.
Construction site communications gets more personal.
BIM and construction technology allows workers and supervisors to share and communicate more effectively. By communicating via tablets, smartphones, and wireless sets, orders and changes can be sent to everyone instantly, rather than relying on a hierarchical messaging system that requires one message to go through several people before reaching the crew up on the 26th floor.
Better communications also work the other way around. When the crew on the 26th floor runs into a problem, they can instantly address the issue and work with site supervisors, engineers, and vendors to find quick and workable solutions.
For over a century, the construction business has relied on the same, inefficient, low-tech paper-based systems. Now with the introduction of BIM, plus construction-specific software and access to massive data clouds, construction companies are finally moving into the world of 21st-century information processing and sharing.