Time For the Construction Industry to Embrace New Technology

Technology is becoming a necessity for construction firms to compete and will only become more so in future.

Technology continues to evolve at a mind-boggling pace, and it’s definitely impacting how construction firms run their business. The days of spreadsheets, clipboards and papers littering your desk or the floorboard of your truck are either already gone or numbered. Today, many firms are using laptops, smartphones, tablets and more to effectively communicate and collaborate between the office, field and project owners. These and other devices are becoming a necessity to compete, and will only become more so in future.

Such mobile devices make software designed to improve jobsite practices and processes available at the touch of a keypad. A plethora of construction-related apps have been introduced to streamline your ability to estimate and bid jobs, manage workflow, monitor equipment logistics and maintenance, track employee hours and location and more. The question is no longer whether you should use such apps but rather which ones are most likely to meet your specific needs, and are worth any cost involved. (Note: You can find information on a number of available apps via the “App of the Week” at ForConstructionPros.com).

Before downloading an app, however, check for online reviews to determine if they can deliver on their promises. While the investment is often minimal (or free in some cases), the vast number of apps claiming to offer similar benefits can be confusing and frustrating to navigate. You also want to avoid discouraging field personnel from using worthwhile apps by having them download a dud that doesn’t do what they expect or need.

Other forms of technology carry a greater learning curve, and often a higher investment cost. For example, specific knowledge and/or training is typically required to create digital 3D models for automated GPS-based grade control systems; sort through and analyze the data provided by web-based telematics systems; or develop and design 3D structural models using BIM software. There is also an associated cost to implement/utilize such systems, and an investment in additional IT and other specially trained personnel may be required.

Even the equipment used on construction sites has evolved as a result of advances in technology. While many of the changes take operating decisions out of the user’s hands, others require the operator to be more tech savvy in order to set up specific operating parameters, and may require training to utilize operating modes to their full potential. Service technicians must also be trained to know how to access fault codes using more sophisticated control panels, as well as to navigate the more complex electrical systems found on many of today’s machines.

Implementing new technology into your business is not without challenges, but the rewards can be well worth it. Whether it’s in time savings on a project, lower maintenance costs, reduced re-work, fuel efficiency gains or a combination of these and others, the benefits can add up quickly with the right investment. If you haven’t made the leap yet, start investigating the types of technology most applicable to your business and determine if it can help you cut costs and boost your company’s bottom line.

New Profit Matters channel at ForConstructionPros.com focuses on applying today's technology to improve construction profit