Building Greener, Building Leaner: The State of Construction Tech

June 7, 2022
Greg Kirshe

Construction technology has historically been kept in a silo, along with other core responsibilities of the construction project management team: accounting, business development, marketing, and the like. Fortunately, over the years, different departments have become more closely aligned through the deployment of technology tools that encourage collaboration. Cloud-based construction software is a major driver of this movement, and it will likely impact other aspects of the business as well.

There’s plenty of evidence of the ways in which technology will continue its steady march and change how companies do their work in the field and home office. From data sharing to materials selection, the way buildings are built now will look very different in years to come – and technology will be either driving the change or underpinning it to ensure it takes hold.

The demand for sustainable building practices certainly hasn’t let up, and the need to look for next-generation materials and building techniques has only accelerated. The industry will likely see machines take a larger role in the jobsite as well, a deployment that may even be expedited due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the need to protect valuable human capital from disease, in addition to the typical construction-related accidents.

How will the construction industry continue to evolve? This article will discuss some of the changes project management teams will most likely see come to life in the coming months.

Three Keys to Advancing the Jobsite

One of the most exciting ways that the jobsite will change is through the use of robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles. These technologies have been in play for a while as potentially finding useful deployments on jobsites, but with the increased attention on worker safety in a post-COVID world, these innovations are more important than ever. While the term robotics almost always has a negative connotation due to its potential impact on human workers, there’s good reason not to be fearful: it’s far more likely robots will work alongside humans to assist and enhance the work employees do.

Many technology experts are excited at the prospect of freeing workers from having to directly oversee repetitive, manual tasks that can be managed by robots or artificial intelligence, allowing them to focus on higher-level projects that may drive new innovations or create additional revenue streams. At the same time, workers in the field can step away from potentially risky jobs and stay safe while still delivering the skilled labor robots can’t yet perform. Working in tandem with this advancement is the use of mobile field tools that will allow workers to report live updates from jobsites on the progress being made by robots and other autonomous devices.

Along the same lines, developing and manufacturing sustainable materials is yet another way the jobsite will be transformed. Clients are demanding that buildings perform to a higher standard, and contractors will need to seek out the next-generation building materials that make this possible. At the same time, inventory management will likely become a priority to cut down on excess materials that end up being disposed of when not used for a project or left languishing in a warehouse for years. Inventory management can help contractors manage their materials stockpile more efficiently and cut down on wasted dollars and space.

Coupled with the development of new materials is the continued maturation of solar panels, wind power, and wastewater treatment. All of these methods of energy conservation have the ability to harness large amounts of data that can yield more informed decision making about ways to use alternative energy solutions for increased efficiency in buildings and on the jobsite, and transferring that information to a project team is essential for maximizing the initial investment. Cloud technology, like that which powers project collaboration tools, will make it possible to instantly capture and share valuable data generated by a wind turbine or solar array.

Cloud Software: In the Here and Now

There’s no denying the appeal of these promising technological breakthroughs, but it’s also entirely fair to be concerned about the costs of such deployments. Fortunately, as history has shown, these innovations eventually become more mainstream and thus, more affordable. However, cloud project management software and mobile jobsite applications are available right now, and at a variety of price points to make some of the tools described here available for contractors of every size.