As construction technology continues to advance and increase in accessibility, a plethora of innovative devices, gadgets and apps are slowly becoming more common in jobsites and in the field service industry. Although many may argue that construction professionals are averse to change, this article disproves that myth. Contemporary construction companies are now using technology in a variety of ways, with many of its applications accelerating the construction process and streamlining communication.
Many in the construction industry are slowly letting go of its old ways of monitoring safety, communication, and data transferal. Some of the trends listed in this article not only speed up the construction process, but also ensure consistency and quality. Here are some ways construction companies have been using technology successfully, and are significantly improving collaboration and productivity.
Drones help to improve the construction process, as well as the performance of a company in various ways. One way that drones will and are already making an impact is through improved project evaluation. Rather than having surveyors conduct inspections, drones utilize aerial surveys to evaluate any given jobsite. In addition, drones can be used as building and contractor surveillance. Rather than paying for security personnel, drones are able to take their place, saving companies time and money. Drones can also assist project managers and contractors of large projects to oversee and supervise the productivity of all construction workers.
Drones can also be used for collecting images that contribute to virtual reality or augmented reality versions of physical place. Aside from its on-site benefits, drones can be extremely useful in the pre-planning stages, even before a shovel hits the ground.
On a smaller scale, construction companies are now using wearable devices like smartwatches, smart glasses and smart clothing. Wearable tech helps improve field communication, ensures safety and work efficiency. In terms of safety, wearable tech has the ability to record vital signs for, tracks heartrates and allows injured workers to signal for help. Through mobile apps, many of these wearable are easy to program and can provide site supervisors and project managers with a notification if someone is in danger. By providing a greater number of safety precautions on jobsites, construction workers can now rely on wearable technology if they find themselves in any hazardous situations.
On a day-to-day basis, wearable tech allows for more collaboration, with workers to almost immediately capture, share jobsite information in real time while keeping their hands free for other things. Greater uses of mobile technology have the ability to bridge long distances and streamlines communication for all members of a team.
Another trend that is gaining in popularity is a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) philosophy whereby all the employees are given full liberty to take advantage of their mobile device for both personal and professional use. Rather than seeing mobile phones as distractions that take away from the productivity of a given project, many companies are now embracing the various functionalities that they provide. It is now more common to see construction companies using a specific app for communication and sharing or transferring data. The use of mobile phones only benefits construction workers, project managers and site supervisors by providing access to pertinent information directly from the field.
Less Tablets, More Phablets
Although tablets are now commonly used on jobsites, another trend coming to construction is an increase in phablets. Represented by a convergence of phones and tablets, phablets are smartphones with a larger screen size, but have the functionality of both devices. Phablets are much easier to carry and can fit in pockets, perfect for construction sites. Phablets allows for the accessibility and mobility of smartphones as well as the ability to view reports, drawings and capture digital signatures.
Greater Use of NFC
Another trend gaining in popularity is NFC or near-field communication. This secure form of data exchange allows the data to be transferred to via mobile, among devices that are in close proximity to each other. Currently available on most smartphones, NFC can be found on Windows and Android devices, with its application increasing in many areas. NFC has proven to be extremely helpful for workforce management, and tracking inventory and equipment. One area that can take advantage of NFC will be the field service industry, where technicians will be able to rely on NFC to capture payments from smart devices, speeding up billing and payment processes.