How to Succeed with New Technology in Construction
The construction Industry is changing. New technology, new systems and new materials have opened up many doors for the sector, allowing buildings to go up faster and in some cases for less money. However, as with all huge change nothing is happening instantly and one of the issues the construction industry faces, perhaps over any other, is its age. It’s one of the oldest industries there is, as far back as you go people needed places to live and as such needed people to build those places.
According to McKinsey & Co. the construction industry has an estimated $1.6 trillion opportunity worldwide, providing it can adapt to these new methodologies and technologies. So what’s stopping it from happening?
Slow Uptake and Poor Knowledge Transfer
The list of exciting new technologies either being put to use or on the cusp of becoming available in the Construction Industry is a long one. Drones could revolutionise the way that sites are surveyed, modular homes could dramatically speed up the construction of new homes, 3d printing opens up all kinds of new ways of constructing buildings and robotics and automation have already been shown to be effective for the sector. These new technologies have been likened to the Industrial Revolution in the scale of the advances possible.
Adopting new technologies can be a slow process. The mind set of ‘this is the way it’s always been done’ is rampant in construction and in an industry where the end product must last decades while providing a shelter which does not collapse on its users, any changes must be made carefully. They are also dealing with the issue of the widening skill gap in construction, meaning that while confronted with all of this new technology they are trying not to lose their old methodologies and skills as their experts retire.
So, how do we change that?
First things first. New technology and methods, rather than intimidating and a chore in themselves, should be looked at as a solution to the looming issues facing the industry. Less people are coming into construction, but certain new systems can help increase productivity and allow workers to do or see more than they would be capable of without them. Yes, it takes time to adapt to anything new, but the adaptation is worth it if it makes everyone’s life easier in the long run.
The issue can be in finding the systems or technology which is best for your organisation. It can be overwhelming, there are many and more all the time as the advancements ramp up in speed. It is worth taking the time to weigh your options and to remember that a poorly implemented system or technology can hinder production instead of improving it. So ensure that staff are properly skilled up and that they know how to make best use out of the new system or process.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before you can start worrying about skilling up members of staff with new technology or techniques, you will need to identify which are the right ones for your organisation. With so many options available and more being developed and released all the time, it can be tricky for any firm to narrow down the panoply to just one or two options.
It’s recommended that, before you start getting excited or intimidated by this bit of tech or that one, you take a long look at the processes you’re going to be trying to improve. Streamline those processes as best you can without making a decision on new technology or systems and then make your choice based on the areas of weakness in your newly upgraded system.
New technology shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet. If your process isn’t optimised then just throwing technology at it is likely to complicate it even more. You need to be realistic about any new technologies to be adopted and go in with the knowledge that your staff aren’t going pick up everything immediately, they will need time and training.