How construction companies can prepare for the future
It is almost a year since the pandemic emerged and so much has changed. From the way of living to the method of working – everything has moved to the so-called “new normal”.
In this hard time, the construction industry has emerged with strategic intent and resilience but with a raft of new challenges to face. It is also true that the construction industry is facing a volatile time. Home construction is up but commercial construction and infrastructure investments are lower. Construction sites have shut down or are working with reduced staff. Supply chains have been disrupted. And various operational restrictions have been imposed. All this has dramatically pushed the construction industry towards embracing change. The future has never been as close as it seems today!
According to the McKinsey Global Institute report, economic activities will only return to 2019 levels by 2023 at the earliest.
Construction companies are being forced to rethink business from the standpoint of being able to leverage technology to improve efficiency and effectiveness. They need to anticipate the changes and make the necessary upgrades. Here are a few ways companies can get future-ready in the new normal.
- Powerful Technology
Technology is one of the primary components of change in nearly every industry, but the construction industry has been guilty of avoiding technical advancements for a long. However, of late the future of construction technology seems to be brighter than it has been for a while.
In the quest for safety, the construction industry is encouraging its employees to work remotely where possible. For example, engineers and designers are turning to digital tools like building information modeling (BIM), construction planning solutions, project management software, construction ERPs, etc. These solutions are allowing them to support on-site efforts and improve results.
Contractors and engineers are using 4D or 5D simulations to reoptimize schedules and construction plans. Additionally, contractors are seeking customized tools to monitor their employees’ health, managing scarce resources, and reducing on-site work. Today, numerous future construction technology-based solutions are being developed to improve the efficiency of the industry.
Construction companies are looking to build comprehensive technology adoption strategies that address several functional areas in an integrated and comprehensive manner for sustained impact.
- Investment in Prefabrication and Modular Projects
The concept of prefabrication and modular construction has been popular for a few years now. These concepts deliver speed of delivery, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. In a future that is likely to be resource as well as time-constrained, these are great benefits to aim for.
Of course, the effective implementation of prefabrication and modular construction places greater demands on the planning, documentation, and data accuracy practices of construction companies. It becomes mandatory to set in place technology-based systems that provide accurate, current, and comprehensive data about the construction sites.
- Sustainable Construction
The construction industry is inevitably moving towards more sustainable construction as a moral imperative. Given the enormous impact of construction on the environment, it’s critical to course correct now. That apart, sustainable construction practices are also sound financially because they help reduce waste, attract new customers, and improve resource utilization.
Sustainable construction is a very broad topic, and various layers are interlinked in it. There are the design and construction of green buildings in which products that have ecological benefits are used to construct a building. There is also the opportunity to leverage technology to plan construction activities better so the process of construction can also be more resource-efficient. Using advanced technologies like data analytics can also play a role here by helping construction companies derive insights from the data at their disposal to become more conscious.
- Shift in Jobs
The nature of jobs could change due to the increased adoption of technology. With more technology integration, intelligent systems, and smart automation coming into the picture, job roles will morph. Construction companies will require people who can understand technology and deliver outcomes with new-age digital tools. They will have to change business and work processes and hiring practices to incorporate the impact of this technology revolution.
- Enhanced Safety Concerns
Construction isn’t the safest job in the world. The sector has an outsized share in workplace accidents and fatalities. This is not acceptable. In the future construction technology stack, technology to make sites safer will be prominent. Construction companies will have to adopt a strategic focus on worker safety. Process and practices will have to change. Technology can help here too as numerous apps, wearable devices, and other approaches come together to make a safe construction site for workers.
- Dynamic Project Management
As construction becomes more complex, project management has to become more comprehensive and agile. Future projects will be delivered by multi-layered teams of specialists that interface with each other at specific points. Companies need to bake in various approaches based on which will benefit their projects before planning the strategy. Construction companies will need to invest in monitoring and tracking tools so that they can manage their project better. Platforms like BIM will become crucial as they provide a single pane of glass to enable a common understanding of the current stage and future scope of each project at all times.
The construction industry has been evolving for some time now, but with the pandemic, the pace of change has intensified. In the future, new technologies, job trends, managerial strategies, and construction methods look set to keep evolving. Construction companies will need to invest in technology to stay relevant in the new normal. Creating a technology strategy and a roadmap could well be the crucial next step construction companies will have to take to ensure the future is secure.