There are several construction trends in the news. One is the explosion of data: collecting it, protecting it, analyzing it, using it. These are all concepts at the forefront of construction company management and planning. Data is coming from all angles and solutions, establishing an ecosystem of partners and applications that, for the good of the industry, are trying to find integrations among those data streams to make them flow from one system to another. And keep in mind, not everything is digitized. Paper is still being used on jobs.
Most everyone involved in the discussion realizes that there is a hierarchy of data within a company. Not all data is of equal importance, but it is all important. For that reason, just as companies have safety awareness meetings and training, they should have data safety awareness meetings and training. Workers need to understand the warning signs to watch for when bad actors are on a quest to attack the company’s files and sensitive data.
For data security, companies need to have contingency plans and processes in place:
- Make sure the IT department has tested the data recovery procedure.
- Ensure backups are ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
- Predetermine what’s needed for recovery when, not if, your data is attacked.
Data security is easier to accomplish when using a single source of truth. Without it there are many silos of information, and companies can lose track of access roles. With it, security policies can be consistent and there is a single control point.
The move to 5G also affects data, enabling the push of dense data out to places where it will be of more benefit to construction companies. 5G will be the catalyst to unlock computing power when data can be streamed faster, and innovative solutions will capitalize on that.
Another trend, driving the biggest changes in the construction industry, is the supply and demand of labor. Aside from 70-hour weeks and worker burnout, the industry cannot sustain the rate of construction demand unless the skilled labor pool grows. Enter robotics. With robotic layout, drywall installation and rebar placement to name a few, robots will augment the labor pool. They are becoming less expensive and more accessible to more construction companies every day.
Concerning innovations to increase production, the combination of 3D printing and prefabrication will revolutionize processes, enabling companies to ship out their portion of a job faster and in modular form. The digital disruption in the manufacturing industry foreshadowed this transformation in construction.
At one time there were not many technology applications built for the AEC industry. Now people are anxious to see what new innovations can do for them and ways they can smooth over frustrations, reduce overtime and change the way work gets done. They want to and need to be involved in technology implementation in order to make it most effective.
Ambitious top-tier general contractors are collecting all the data they can from current and previous jobs and using analytics to forecast and predict risk. This will serve them well as a competitive advantage in the years to come.