Digitization In The Construction Industry

Bogdan Büchner

The core tenets of construction may have stood the test of time, but a new wave of digitization is poised to revolutionize the construction industry. However, digitization currently underutilized in the construction industry, as few industry players are taking steps to integrate new technologies into their business processes.

In a recent study by Roland Berger, it was discovered that digitization among firms in the construction industry was spotty at best. Not even 6% of firms had implemented digitization in all four of the areas ripe for digital transformation.

Four Areas to Focus On

These four broad areas identified by Roland Berger are key for the forward-thinking firm to focus on:

Digital Data: Data collection and analysis is more important than ever in the era of Big Data. This area is essential for identifying and solving pipeline inefficiencies and other organizational pain points.

**Automation: **Paired with digital data, automation is the workhorse of the modern construction industry. Automation brings with it improvements in safety, quality and labor costs.

Connectivity: Without fast and convenient communication between organizational elements, the larger a firm becomes the slower it will react to sudden changes in the market landscape. Though scalability is the buzzword du jour, it can signal the death of a company that fail to preserve effective channels of communication.

Network Access: Finally, access to both the external internet and internal company networks is vital for the modern construction firm. The network is now the lifeblood of a company; without it, one risks being cut off from developments in the construction industry.

Solutions for the Digitized Construction Firm

There currently exist plenty of solutions for the construction company that wishes to leverage digitization in their day to day operations. For example, Proper logistics handling is one of the most difficult to perform tasks in the construction industry, but a computer is able to handle this far more effectively than a human, and quicker too. With dissemination of a full complement of digital detectors and devices a la the Internet of Things, a whole range of possibilities for supply chain optimization and personnel scheduling suddenly become available.

Another exciting application is the use of robots in construction. Human workers are the most valuable resource of the construction industry, putting their lives on the line every day as they transport materials and construct high rises. What better way to ensure their safety than to allocate the most dangerous tasks to robotic workers? New robots and drones are available that can lay brick, pipe and steel much faster than human workers, and with no risk to their lives.

Additionally, digitization can help a construction company fulfill customer needs. When a client demands information, the less they have to wait the better. With full network connectivity, there’s no need for a client to wait on hold when they can instead receive all the project data they could ask for via internal websites or email. Daily contact now becomes possible with very little additional overhead. This alone will help the digitized construction firm stand out from the crowd in the mind of their customers.

Look to the Future of the Construction Industry

Digitization has the potential to drastically increase productivity; whoever jumps onboard now will take advantage of the digital gap, pulling ahead productivity-wise to an unheard of degree while competitors scramble to catch up.

In this era of unheard-of technological advancement, the companies that survive are those that adapt. Rather than rely on old business processes, it’s imperative for firms in the construction industry to think ahead and forge new innovative procedures in order to continue to stand the test of time.

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