Barriers to digital adaptation in construction

  • 4 Jan 2019

What’s stopping everyone in the construction industry from going digital?

Despite the global construction sector being one of the world’s largest industries, it’s still one of the least efficient. Productivity growth in the industry has averaged just 1% each year over the past two decades, compared with a 2.8% growth rate for the global economy, according to McKinsey & Co.

While pioneering construction companies are leveraging innovative technologies and improved connectivity, in terms of widespread adoption, there is still much resistance to digital transformation. But why?

Reluctant to change

When it comes to adopting new ideas, particularly innovative ones, it’s often the fear of the unknown, and a shift in mindset that are the biggest barriers to overcome. Those wanting to protect the established ways of doing things are usually reluctant to change.

The construction industry is highly segregated between disciplines, making unified workflows difficult to introduce. Trying to get participating parties – engineers, subcontracting firms, designers, and general contractors – to embrace the same systems comes with its own challenges and resistance.

The age of employees is also a crucial factor in the uptake of new systems. There’s still a perception that only young employees embrace and easily adapt to digital technology, used to communicating and sharing images, videos and data from their smartphone or tablet.

Older employees, frequently in management roles, are perceived as less receptive and excited about innovative technology. Besides requiring more training and support, often as the decision-maker, they don’t see that investing in new technology is worthwhile. It’s deep-rooted opinions like these that can be very difficult to confront and change.

There’s a risk that if new technology isn’t an integrative tool regularly used in the working day, the early adopters who thrive from and rely upon it move on to other industries where it is.

While the modern supply chain is entering a new era, too many construction businesses are still using archaic paper-based invoicing rather than embracing newer, streamlined digital systems. Reliance on paper in the finance department, manually entered data, and countless other dated practices leave too much room for friction and errors in the procure-to-pay process.

Overcoming digital fears

Overcoming digital fears is not something the construction sector can afford to ignore. Digital adaptation is a global mega-trend that has already transformed many industries, and the more it evolves, the more effective and efficient businesses can become.

Real-time collaboration, Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the cloud, 3D printing, virtual reality, survey drones, big data and the Internet of things, as well as wearable technologies and digital workflows are now being deployed. They’re enabling seamless interaction between offices and sites across multiple geographical locations, facilitating a ‘build right first time’ approach.

– Real-time collaboration – unobstructed information flow also improving decision-making and allowing multiple access at any given time
– BIM – live and active interface where design iterations can be made up to construction phase
– 3D printing – enabling cost reduction and time of constructing materials
– Virtual reality – supporting Health & Safety awareness and training on site
– Drones – changing the way development sites are surveyed and site inspections are conducted
– Data – predict and prevent problems, as opposed to find and fix
– IOT – interconnecting data over the internet from different devices
– Smart sensors – allowing contractors to monitor the usage of personal protective equipment
– Digital workflows – users and technology work together

The main benefit of putting the right digital processes in place is time compression. New tech allows engineers, architects and surveyors to make better decisions quickly, optimising design, automating engineering or reducing the risk involved in off-site and on-site construction. Project life cycles can be shortened, boosting productivity.

Simple and intuitive products

With input from senior construction stakeholders, Script&Go has developed real-time collaborative technology adaptable to the needs of the user. With every age in mind, the simple and intuitive products can be operated from a tablet or smartphone at anytime from anywhere in the world.

Site Diary is the user-friendly digital equivalent of a paper-based site journal. Designed to support construction and site managers, it significantly saves time on site reporting by making operations quicker and more inclusive.

Site Diary

– Paper-based site journals replaced by digital site data for auditing
– Centralised assignment of tasks to co-workers
– 24/7 access to co-worker site reports, data and detail
– Professionally produced reports via a button
– Reduced site reporting time

If you haven’t already, now’s the time to start thinking about digital adaptation for your business, before it’s too late. There really isn’t anything to be afraid of, and by doing so you’ll be ensuring your company is in the best-possible place to meet future challenges.

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