Do you ever forget that computers have only been around for the past 4 decades? Which when you think about it is a lot shorter than it sounds. Technology has been disrupting most sectors since then, but took a longer to impact construction. And the reasoning for that is pretty simple. When computers and tech was just starting to become mainstream, they were still heavy pieces of machinery, which meant they were favoured and more accessible to white collared jobs.
Construction technology - which refers to the collection of innovative tools, machinery, softwares etc. used during the construction phase that enable advancements in field methods - has only really started gaining momentum within the last two decades. And it matters because once we started to see universal on-site access to smart phones and tablets - industry wide productivity levels increased and changed the the way builders build.
So here's a quick look back through history, to see how tech evolved and integrated into becoming part of the modern day job site.
The introduction of personal computers comes in 1984 - which marks the beginning of the machine-based processing of information. Computers are still very big to use and the internet wasn't even around yet.
Technology for construction starts and developers target early construction software for office workers, heavily geared more towards building design and architecture.
On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web goes live to the world and we start to see advances in the digital network. Mobile phones start to really evolve and become reasonable size and by the mid 90's, the flip phone is now commonplace.
Workers in the field now have the ability to call back to the office for quick questions or clarification of issues. The office can also communicate directly with the field team to relay important information more efficiently.
A lot of big things happen for technology in the 2000's and some call this period the start of the tech revolution. Phones start to include SMS and email, and in 2003, Blackberry introduces their 6210 model. The phone features email, texting, web browsing as well as its own messenger service (BBM).
Fast forward to 2007, and the first Apple iPhone is released. The world enters into the age of connectivity and we start to see the rise of smartphones. People now have the ability to digest information at even larger rates and all remotely.
But during this time, most construction companies are still heavily using pen and paper in their everyday processes. This included everything from plans, records, project schedules and more. The industry was still so behind that using Excel was considered technically advanced.
The creation of apps and mass production of smart tablets and devices opens a floodgate of new applications for the world and construction companies. Not just restricted to the office, tech is now every where and companies are starting to incorporate new technologies into their daily activities.
In 2017, Australia's construction industry saw a growth in productivity, with an increase of 2.8% per year. This increase in productivity was directly attributed to technology, innovative building techniques and modern construction materials.
Accelerations in tech has introduced an extensive digital transformation in the industry and today there are a whole host of integrated solutions used on construction sites. Big data and the rise of mobile devices has pushed new limits for the industry, and tools are continuing to evolve into autonomous machinery, safety wearables, tracking softwares and more.
Some big trends to look out for:• Overseas Procurement
• Modular construction
• Materials providence & certification tracking
. • BIM driven manufacturing
• AI & Augmented/Virtual reality
• QR Codes & sensors for asset management
The availability and adoption of digital solutions is helping to improve the industry, and to be competitive in today's marketplace, companies need to be thinking about how technological factors can be implemented into day to day business processes.