Hard hats, tools, and heavy machines. These are the some of the first thoughts that come to mind when someone outside the industry hears about construction. They see the sites, the signs, and the new buildings, but anyone not familiar with the industry doesn’t see the work that goes on behind the scenes. Every project has a team of individuals who coordinate all the aspects of a project before moving dirt. Project Managers, Engineers, and Assistants work hard to communicate with owners, architects, superintendents, subcontractors, and anyone involved in a project. This is no small feat and no small amount of paperwork. Contracts, addendums, submittals, preliminary waivers, waivers, change orders, pay applications, only scratch the surface. Construction relies on this information, therefore it is important that project teams have their own tools to manage it.
This is the era of information and technology is changing the construction industry. The proper use of technology can save construction managers and general contractors time and money as processes and procedures become more efficient. Many contractors are still transitioning from documentation to digital, but most can expect a large ROI for doing so.
Ways to use Technology in Construction
Document management is probably the most important reason to use technology in construction. A large portion of constructing a building is controlling the mass number of different documents as mentioned above. Sometimes general contractors or construction managers might need to use more than one software program to best organize these documents. There are many software companies and programs available, but it is critical that research is done before making a decision on a program. When searching for a program that might be right for you, consider asking yourself these questions.
- What is my need and does it accomplish the need?
- What other programs does it compete with?
- Is it simple and easy to understand and teach?
- Does it fit within my budget?
- What programs are my competitors using?
- What programs are my subcontractors using?
- Does it have all the documentation forms that I require?
- Will this program integrate with what I already have?
Mobile and Tablet Devices
Mobile and tablet devices are not uncommon in our everyday life or in the construction industry. It should be taken into consideration though of how the technology could be used better on the job. Superintendents often find it useful to carry a tablet as they walk the job site emphasizing it’s mobility and it’s screen size. Depending on the document management programs in place, there may also be a correlating mobile application to use out in the field. By using tablets, superintendent can take their work from the office into the field where they can have more impact on the project.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a specialized technology that is changing the our industry dramatically. Essentially, BIM modeling is the taking of construction plans and transforming them into 3-dimensional models. By overlaying different design disciplines, such as structural, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing, construction companies can identify points of conflict before it ever makes it to the field. This can save time and money by reducing change orders, materials needed, and labor.
This area of technology is very experimental for general use and is making it’s way into the construction industry. Similar to BIM, it would be a different way to view a project that is still in pre-construction. Virtual Reality is also an option when showcasing product types and how occupants will use or enjoy the space.
Unmanned Flying Objects (UFOs), more commonly known as drones, are becoming more common on construction sites. They are especially useful for observing construction site conditions, project progress, and obtaining completed project photos. This technology requires proper certification but is easy to learn and doesn’t have to be a bank breaker. There are certain limitations to how high and where a drone can fly, but a drone can provide a new perspective on construction. Again, it is important to take time and research various options to find what will work best and suits your needs.
Bonneville Builders is constantly embracing new technology to enhance the experience for our clients and be more efficient both in the office and out in the field.