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Investing in Construction Technology: What You Need to Know


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Photo courtesy of Cory Cullington | Procore

The majority of project leaders and teams on site today still utilize outdated, manual tools and processes—even though there are plenty of technology solutions available today to automate them and ease the workload. The reasons for this lagging adoption vary, but the reluctance to embrace 21st-century solutions often stems from a lack of IT resources. 

According to the 2017 JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report, more than 40 percent of construction companies don’t have an established IT department. Of those that do, almost three quarters have a budget of less than $500,000 per year. Without dedicated resources to identify, evaluate, and implement new solutions, the task of innovating and adopting technology can appear daunting. Ultimately, it is pushed aside for competing priorities.

This means that even though cloud-based document storage and collaboration tools are prevalent in most industries, construction continues to be an exception. Even now, paper files persist. The lack of remote visibility into what’s happening on site limits the ability to manage projects and share vital information. Without technology, you can’t immediately check which subs and trades are on site, where equipment and tools are located, and who is operating them. You also cannot know about safety incidents or jobsite hazards the moment they happen. Clients today want—and expect—data-driven projects, and legacy processes are unable to deliver.

Clients today want—and expect—data driven projects, and legacy processes are unable to deliver.

Fortunately, the Internet of Things (IoT) is spreading at the jobsite. This network of connected devices that automatically collect and transmit data from workers, tools, equipment, and materials enables unprecedented, data-driven visibility into what’s happening on site. Cloud-based dashboards, accessible from any smart device, are breaking down communication barriers, enabling on-site managers and off-site stakeholders to all access information remotely, at any time. This presents a tremendous opportunity for contractors embracing innovation and new technologies.

Amidst increased resource scarcity, project complexity, and client expectations, contractors are turning to technology to do more with less. With limited IT dollars and resources, however, and more and more solutions hitting the marketplace, construction companies need to ask themselves five key questions about any prospective technology investment:

1. Will the technology perform across jobsites? 

Construction sites are unique, physical environments, and any investment needs to perform well in this fast-moving world. It’s important to ask yourself how the solution accounts for the challenging construction environment. Can it scale as projects ramp up and more workers and structures are added? What does battery life look like? What happens if WiFi goes down on site?

2. Does the solution set your workforce up for success? 

Engage end users early and often to ensure the solution meets their needs and requirements. Can they upload photos or add notes from the fields easily? Can they tag other team members? Without user buy-in, even the most innovative of technologies will wither on the vine.

3. Does the solution enable fast decision-making? 

The data from new technology solutions needs to be real-time, actionable, and easily accessible. Ask about custom reports and notifications, this way you’ll be able to make an informed decision how to maximize those features once the solution is updated. Who will oversee documentation and regular reporting? Data is only as good as the insights and action it enables, so establish a plan for acting upon the data.

4. How does the solution fit within your business goals? 

Consider how the solution integrates within your organization’s existing business and technology infrastructure. Custom applications and third-party integrations (via APIs) are important to ensure that as your business evolves, the solution grows with you.

5. What do implementation and support look like?

New technology requires a thorough implementation plan, including initial training and onboarding as well as ongoing troubleshooting and support. Identify team members who can serve as solution subject matter experts, ensuring the solution gets rolled out and used properly. Begin with a pilot project and gradually ramp up as capabilities are established and training and implementation processes are fleshed out.

Data is only as good as the insights and action it enables, so establish a plan for acting upon the data.

Triax’s Spot-r platform provides real-time visibility into workers, safety, and resources across project sites. Through a scalable mesh network and compact sensors, Spot-r automatically collects and transmits real-time worker time and attendance and location data as well as worker falls and push-button alerts. This two-way integration pushes accurate Spot-r workforce data into Procore for timecards, manpower, accidents and daily construction reports. To learn more click here. 

If you liked this article and want more...

You can download the full Construction Technology: 5 Things to Consider Before You Invest E-Book for more.  

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