COVID-19 has had a major impact on society and businesses across all industries and sectors, including construction. Although many types of construction were considered essential, and work continued for construction firms, other businesses shut down and many still felt the economic impact of the pandemic. As the world reopens and the economy rebounds, firms will need to adjust operations and create efficiencies that didn’t exist in the past, in order to be profitable.
A report from McKinsey & Co. predicted that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction companies will adopt new technologies and increase spending in digital tools, building modeling systems, off-site construction and sustainable building materials. New tech investments in these areas will help construction companies improve productivity and profitability by cutting high costs of a wide array of inefficient practices.
Digital Transformation Is Gaining Momentum
Digital transformation is one initiative that accelerated across every industry during the COVID-19 crisis, as consumers turned to digital channels for conducting business, shopping, banking, education and more. In construction, the use of digital technologies and tools to facilitate collaboration among remote stakeholders and project managers gained traction, helping to support social distancing mandates and enable people to stay safe while remaining productive. Here are a few examples:
- Collaboration tools enable project managers and stakeholders to streamline communications and keep everyone in the loop about project progress. These tools are typically cloud-based and accessible via web browser, and many offer mobile apps so workers can connect and collaborate while on the jobsite. Information and updates can be shared in real-time between workers and stakeholders, enabling rapid decision-making, which helps projects stay on-time and on-budget.
- Wearables and AI sensors are being used to detect when workers do or don’t follow social distancing practices and to limit how many workers are onsite.
- Virtual reality solutions are being used to train equipment operators, and video-based employee training and learning management systems provide a cost-effective alternative to in-person, instructor-led training.
- Construction cameras help project managers monitor work on the jobsite remotely and avoid excess travel to the jobsite to check on progress. They provide ongoing jobsite surveillance, improve security, increase worker productivity and ensure compliance with policies and regulations — including new CDC regulations for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
- Project management software solutions such as Procore, AutoDesk BIM 360 and PlanGrid enable effective online collaboration, allowing team members to access project details, photos, documents and more from anywhere. (It’s worthy of noting that Procore is providing customers access to its platform for COVID-19 emergency relief construction projects at no cost.)
According to McKinsey, additional investments in digital technologies that simplify construction processes are imminent, not only to increase efficiencies and enable remote work to continue, but to help mitigate the impact of the labor shortage that has plagued the industry for a long time:
“With the prospect of rolling physical-distancing measures and restrictions on cross-border movement of labor, skilled labor shortages will become even more acute. The case for digital tools that are proven to increase productivity, such as 4D simulation, digital workflow management, real-time progress tracking, and advanced schedule optimization, will become even stronger. For similar reasons, we see an increase in R&D spending to develop new standardized building systems to speed up and automate elements of design and construction. We also expect to see more players investing in automation of on-site and back-office processes.”
A 2018 report by Ernst & Young found that 98% of engineering and construction companies agree digital solutions are critical to the future viability of their company. Construction cameras are a great example of a digital tool that is easy to implement and can provide substantial cost savings and efficiencies in a short period of time, Read our new ebook, “The ROI of Construction Cameras” to learn more, or watch a live demo to see TrueLook cameras in action.