Forecasting the future of construction productivity, do we see technology taking our place?
Major construction companies who have been in the industry for decades still rely heavily on old methods. In debates about the future of construction work, technology is often portrayed as the villain because it demands adaptation when old methods are comfortable for those who have grown with them over the years. For example, printing reams of paper for blueprints, logs, and contracts are likely to be out of date almost as soon as they are printed, but we still print, discard, and re-print for each change. This can be costly. It also causes the need to constantly check behind the scenes that everyone has the latest revisions to plans and documents.
With technology all around us, nearly every other industry has stepped up and embraced innovation while construction has lagged behind.
However, the benefits of construction technology are finally coming to the forefront. Computer programs are beginning to eliminate the need for the heavy paper printing, which still hinders the construction field. Programs used for scheduling, managing shop drawings, blueprints, billings, transmittals, etc are becoming the norm. 3D CAD overlays for MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) coordination have made the painstaking job of coordination easier and faster—and companies are continuing to improve on them every year, by overlaying digital plan elements and 3D models onto real projects in your line of sight with augmented reality goggles.
Technology has become more accurate and user friendly, speeding the efficiency in which people can perform their jobs. Drones, 3D printing, green materials, wearable tech, robotics, and predictive analytics tools are some of the kinds of technology that are making changes in construction. Today, robotic instruments can be attached to earth-moving equipment via GPS to provide measurements, cuts and fill--eliminating time-consuming transit of measuring with manual plumb bobs and human eye in the past. Project Superintendents now carry iPads in lieu of clipboards.
These are just a few examples of what is now occurring in the construction field.
Humans and technology will coexist on construction fields for many years to come. We have only seen the tip of what technology has to offer the construction field and how it can improve productivity. Implementing these technological advancements in practice is truly long overdue.
See our articles on Drone Use in Construction, Self-Driving Construction Vehicles, and Ways Technology Has Improved the Construction Industry.