By: Shawn Sauve on June 24th, 2020
How Technology Can Steer the Construction Industry Out of COVID-19
The spread of COVID-19 was all about uncertainty and distress. With people being strongly advised to follow social distancing protocols, the government had its focus on controlling the spread of illness by restricting travel and work. And just like any other industry, the construction world is also going through a tremendous struggle in sustaining the project pipeline and workflow.
Though the idea of remote work has somewhat become accepted by contractors, on-site construction tasks need to ensure both an abundant workforce and safety guidelines. Placing thousands of contractors on furlough coupled with the termination of various existing and upcoming projects has caused a major loss of liquidity.
However, the one saving grace for construction firms, contractors, and employees could be the use of technology. Here’s a look at how using technology could aid the construction industry and help it steer out of COVID-19.
Taking Advantage of the Internet of Things
The tech world is leaning heavily on the idea of improved connectivity through the Internet of Things (IoT) for both customers and industry. The entire idea behind the use of IoT is connecting devices or machines using the power of the internet.
Looking at the present scenario, IoT can be used to drive operational efficiency and improve safety at the jobsite by reducing costs. As the primary concern of most contractors is worker health and site safety, the use of IoT can assist in implementing social distancing as well as keeping a check on operations at the same time using IoT enabled sensor technology.
Making the Best Use of Wearables
One of the most trending and revolutionary inventions over the past few years is smart wearables. These are the devices that cannot only help in biometric identification of the workers but also their health through metrics like heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc.
Construction managers could take advantage of such technology to track the health and safety of workers on the jobsite. Wearing smart bands could enable workers to practice social distancing more effectively by alerting them when they are coming in close contact with each other. It can also help reduce the stress of managers at the jobsite as they try to monitor workers’ health and safety.
Apart from this, the devices could be connected to a single software to record the health data of all the workers and check their fatigue levels to ensure employee health is maintained at the site.
In the long term, the technology can also be used to keep the employees updated on the existing conditions of the surrounding whenever they are in close contact with hazardous material or heavy machinery.
Keeping Up the Supply Flow
Since the building of commercial projects such as giant skyscrapers is not all about manual labor, technology can also be implemented to make things autonomous. Though many construction sites make use of robotic technology to keep track of operations at the site, there are plenty of opportunities to improve jobsite productivity through the use of robotics.
Modern-day technology could be used to improve the flow of supply and frequency of simultaneous operations. This can be achieved by the introduction of ERP software or technology that can keep track of every single consumption of nuts and bolts from the inventory at the site.
Such applications can be used to streamline the supply chain as well as helping managers align with project schedules for precise deliveries of materials and supplies when they are needed.
Cloud-Based SaaS Technology
The next big thing which construction firms and contractors will realize with this pandemic is the benefit of cloud-based SaaS technology. The advantage of storage and data access available on the cloud will serve as a blessing for construction firms who are remotely managing their work.
The use of intelligent construction management and accounting software will help project managers to keep a check on all the activities, resources, as well as deliverables with greater ease. Moreover, it will also be of great benefit in sharing data between project owners and subcontractors with the ease of access to data available on servers, which is not possible with on-premise solutions.
Tackling the Challenges of COVID-19
The spread of COVID-19 has brought the most significant challenge for construction firms and it was mainly centered on monitoring supply chains and maintenance of machines. In times like these, the adoption of technology may appear as a challenge but is completely worth taking the effort.
The use of smart IoT devices, project management, and accounting software, artificial intelligence (AI) technology can help the contractors streamline their tasks related to supply chain, machine maintenance, and even the most fundamental tasks like concrete production.
The collaboration of the technology with business will not only enable the managers to have complete control on the site but keeping a check on every aspect related to safety. On one hand, they can simply use the devices like thermocouples and wireless sensors to monitor the concrete but will also improve the project flow by keeping the inventory ready for upcoming activities.
Every single one of these examples is not just beneficial from the industry point of view but also fulfills the demand for the existing situation during COVID-19. However, it only needs the construction giants to grab the opportunity and make the most of this situation to steer their business out towards prosperity.
Good Luck! Stay Safe!
Shawn Sauve is Vice President – Sales at ProjectPro - Construction Accounting Software. Shawn has been helping organizations grow by aligning the right people processes and technology both within his own organization and for the clients from various industries like Construction, Financial Services and Information Technology. He is a strategic thinker and visionary who can see the big picture and focus on key issues to accomplished established goals.