Coach's Corner Business Tips
How Predictive Analytics, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning are Shaping How Construction does Business
Last year changed a lot of things in this world, including the way construction companies do business. With lockdowns and social distancing imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19, construction turned to technology. The changes in the industry are not likely to disappear since digital tools have proved so effective.
Many companies were ill-prepared for the sudden shifts they faced as the world went into lockdown last spring. And while some companies still have the same long-term goals they had several years ago, they also have a new perspective on future work. That new perspective is the result of advances in technology embraced in construction during the 2020 shift.
The use of tools previously used only occasionally, like Zoom and Google Meet, became the standard business practice in 2020. Millions of people worldwide embraced them out of necessity when the world went remote in what felt like an instant.
Leaders and employees embrace these changes and drive toward improved technology for the workplace, including on construction sites and to conduct office work. Customers still expect someone to answer the phone when they call, and safety inspections must go on. Now, administrators and inspectors can perform these tasks from a distance.
Intelligent automation, cloud solutions, robotics, and drones are all in the mix. 3D and 4D photography and video are in use. And despite the common misconception that automation takes away jobs, it can actually create and improve them. Employees are learning new skills and innovating new ideas. One survey showed that stress levels are down in many instances and employee and customer satisfaction are up due to these technological advances.
While technology may make some jobs obsolete, it creates new ones that help employees use their time more efficiently. The workforce now includes not just humans but intelligent machines.
Data is becoming more important in this technology-driven era. One mistake on a construction job can cost millions of dollars. Predictive analytics help companies complete jobs more efficiently and on time, using data to identify trends and identify potential issues before they impact a project.
Learning to use predictive analytics allows you to use existing data to find trends, relationships, and patterns to solve problems. Using data gives you a deeper understanding of future behaviors based on past actions.
Think Amazon or Walmart. Every time you shop online, those companies use predictive algorithms to look at purchase history, compare product information and look at other online activity about where you shop and what you purchase. It uses that information to make recommendations to you for future purchases.
In construction, predictive analytics, which contains a seemingly unending number of variables, are used to solve many types of problems. They allow your company to make educated predictions.
Materials, for example, play a significant role in a project's costs. Predictive analytics help you forecast how much of a particular product the job will require. You no longer have to over-order.
By keeping good records of purchases, you can build a database for future use. Analytics can also give you information to manage resource placement, which is more efficient and limits the cost of materials transport.
Use predictive analytics to create a budget. Use data to determine your cash flow needs. This is especially useful in seasonal industries like construction. It helps prevent cash shortages during slower months or where the weather becomes a factor.
By analyzing multiple data sources, you can recognize trends, identify potential problems, set timelines, and look for solutions.
The construction industry has always been innovative when it comes to solving problems, finding solutions. It allows for better design and development and building more efficiently.
COVID-19 stressors accelerated many changes, and more are still to come. Technology has allowed construction to address the shortage of skilled labor, new sustainability regulations, and advanced information technology. These advancements are happening so quickly it is not easy to keep track.
Here are a few of the most innovative advancements:
Drone technology is probably the most popular on construction sites. Their use took off, increasing 239% in 2018, and has only gone up since.
Drones monitor worksites for security issues and worksite equipment. They can perform mapping surveys at minimal costs and have increased safety by some 55% by taking on dangerous tasks.
Structural monitoring systems use sensors to check for strengths and weaknesses in a structure that may not be visible to the human eye. This helps predict structural problems before they become an issue. They allow the site owner to perform necessary maintenance before a site becomes dangerous.
Monitoring structural integrity with this type of system reduces risk exposure for workers and alerts them to hazardous conditions.
The Microsoft Hololens glasses give workers hands-free access to building plans, make distance measurements, allow workers and designers to modify sites remotely and generate structural models.
The wearer can teleconference with clients from the field and allow offsite workers to see a real-time project.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Equipment operating today is much like the simulators that for many years have allowed pilots to get lifelike experiences without the risk. Virtual reality training offers an accurate, lifelike experience that is more engaging than video and enables the individual to control their learning rate.
Augmented reality is the application of virtual reality technology in which workers can use real-world scenarios. They can view layers of data and plans on-site using wearable lenses or a mobile device equipped with a camera. Contractors can hold up a tablet in a house and see where every stud should be placed. A project manager can show a client door designs while standing in the doorway and make modifications on the spot.
AR also allows for more accurate architectural planning by generating 3D models from 2D plans.
Technology will continue to help the construction industry adapt, making further advancements in software, tools, processes, and materials. It will even change the way companies rent equipment by using technological advances to allow for automated rentals, inventory access, and data analytics.
The engineers and scientists in the construction field will bring futuristic technological elements into buildings and infrastructure and go beyond what we can imagine today.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.