As the built environment seeks to find its feet in the ‘next normal’, and the government pours money into the construction industry to help rebuild Britain after – will we finally see the digitisation of the construction industry it’s been waiting for?

 

There’s no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the adoption of digital technology across the construction industry. 

Last month, a survey of 250 construction managers by software company, Procore Technologies, revealed 66% of companies adopted some sort of new technology during lockdown to cope with the need to adapt quickly to remote working – including the need to stay connected, share information easily and collaborate virtually.

Now, with the government’s announcement to throw out the planning rulebook and offer greater flexibility for new construction works – and invest 5 billion in ‘Rooseveltian New Deal’ to rebuild the UK’s schools, hospitals and roads – it seems the need for the construction industry to digitalise its workspaces in order to work more quickly, efficiency and safely is greater than ever.

“Construction won’t be the same as it was before, with connectivity and mobility driving a new way of working.” says Brandon Olivieri-O’Connor, Director of UK and Ireland at Procore Technologies.

Tech for connection

According to the survey, 58% of construction companies have seen a higher demand from workers for a way to stay connected and work more efficiently while working remotely.

The mindset-shift that COVID-19 has caused is clear – the industry is realising the benefits of having a singular, integrated platform – which can connect multiple business applications and stores relevant information all in one place – to improve transparency among teams on and off site. 80% of those asked believe this will play a pivotal role in the future of construction work.

“With much around construction being disrupted, technology has proved the one constant and this is being increasingly realised by businesses. We’ve seen contractors proactively making the move away from manual methods and excel towards platform technology.” says Olivieri-O’Connor.

Tech for collaboration

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is also likely to continue to grow and could function as a game-changer for the construction industry, allowing for better virtual collaboration as well speed and efficiency across multiple different teams. It allows for collaborative info sharing throughout every stage of a project, from development to design to construction phase.

We could also see Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) – already growing trends in the construction industry – being used more and more to provide virtual walkthroughs instead of physical site visits.

Tech for safety

We’ve already seen smart devices being used on construction sites to monitor staff check in and track numbers. More recently, developments have been made to ensure increased staff safety –  such as wearable smart devices, apps and electronic proximity sensors that provide alerts to workers when they stand too close to each other to help staff maintain social distancing while not impacting performance and efficiency.

We’ve also seen the launch of wearable mood monitors for construction workers to digitally alert their employers of their mental health and wellbeing by the push of a button.

The Coronavirus crisis has fast-tracked the take up of many digital trends expected to grow in 2020, yet with the growing concern for staff safety and the government pledge to “build, build, build” it’s on construction companies to roll out technology to improve efficiency, connection and staff safety.

 

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