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Four emerging technologies impacting construction projects

Up until now, the construction sector has been comparatively slow to adapt to technological change and, according to 55% of senior construction professionals, is an industry ripe for disruption (Source: Make it, or break it, 2017 Global Construction Survey, KPMG International). Having exhibited minimal productivity growth over the last two decades, the construction sector is now seeing a number of emerging technologies driving digital transformation and automation, and according to the PMI’s Pulse of themProfession 2017, investing in technology is now the biggest priority reported by project management executives. It is clear the industry is on the cusp of a technological update and companies that embrace and keep up with the improvements that technology bring will be in a great position to gain competitive advantage. Here are four emerging technologies that are set to have a major impact on the industry in the immediate future.

1. Purpose-built Software

Now accessible to organisations of all sizes, purpose-built software is an essential tool for most construction businesses. There are many significant benefits to running your projects on software, including:

  • Greater efficiency due to workflow automation and centralising all aspects of the project in a single platform
  • Improved team communication and morale
  • Minimised risk due to automated task tracking, alerts and pre-built finance management calculators
  • One click reporting
  • Improved security and control
  • Better overall client experience

Cloud based software also has the advantage of allowing team members to work together and collaborate from different geographic locations, making it ideal for project teams with a mix of office based and on-site staff. Given its accessibility and value, purpose-built software should now be viewed as an essential tool for any project team, particularly in the construction sector.

2. Building Information Modelling (BIM)

BIM is a 3D modelling and digital representation technology that gives you the tools to plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure more efficiently. While the grassroots of BIM reach as far back as the 1970s, the technology is becoming more accessible and looks set for widespread adoption in 2018 and beyond. Usually used in larger scale projects, BIM software allows the virtual construction of a facility before its actual construction, allowing project teams to reduce uncertainty, improve safety and identify & resolve potential problems before they arise.

3. Drone Mapping Technology

Also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), drones are being used for a variety of reasons on construction projects and offer a range of benefits including:

  • Aerial photographs and 3D renderings
  • Inspection of hard to reach places
  • Identify problems early on with aerial surveys
  • Improve bids with pre-construction aerial surveys
  • Improved safety onsite as drones can identify and access potentially hazardous areas

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is being used more and more in the construction sector at all stages of a project. In the planning stage, machinery can already be used to survey a site, without human input, and gather enough data to create 3D maps, blueprints and construction plans. AI can also optimise the management of a project by automatically adapting to changes in the most efficient way. Any change affecting the project, from task delays to sick days can be handled and adapted to by AI, whilst the project manager is kept up to date at all times. Handling complex data can be done almost instantly by AI and this facilitates faster decision making and improved communication. In addition, the ability for AI to learn from past projects means process improvement will be rapidly accelerated.

Which technology should businesses adopt first?

The technology revolution is impacting the construction sector in a variety of ways, and businesses that adapt to this change and leverage the vast benefits that new technology is bringing will emerge with competitive advantage. Whilst every construction business and every project is different, some technologies are more appropriate for larger scale projects. The ideal starting block for a construction business looking to take its first steps in adopting appropriate technology will usually be purpose-built software. Not only can you get up and running with this technology in minutes but the value you gain from automating project management is, so far, unmatched. Ultimately, businesses and enterprise organisations alike will benefit from connected systems that leverage all of the above technologies, with purpose-built software used as the central platform tying everything together.