1. In your opinion, how has the Construction Industry evolved over the years? What are some of the advantages of the current technological evolution?
It may appear that the construction industry has made no technological advancements over the past few decades, but this is simply untrue. Many technological advances have come to light for the AEC industry like BIM and VDC, AI, drones, offsite construction, and more. Technology is developing at such a rapid rate; the industry may struggle to keep up. Choosing the right technology while also finding the best approach to adopt and implement new ways of working is not an easy undertaking.
When I think about the evolution of the construction industry, my mind goes immediately to CDs. Construction documents began as white text on blue paper. They were cheap and offered a practical way to create duplicates. Over time, these blueprints evolved from hand-drawn to 2D computer generated and today, 3D information-rich models. Although the construction industry is still highly dependent on construction documents, the format, delivery, and coordination have evolved considerably over the years. The use of hand-drawn, printed drawings could easily disrupt the construction schedule. It could take weeks to get an update if there was an unforeseen condition,
A/E error/omission, or an owner-requested change. Even today, paper drawings are found on-site with no guarantee of being the correct version. With the introduction of cloud and software technology, industry standards for drawing and change order turnaround are now closer to two to five days. However, there still exists an opportunity to reduce this time and increase efficiency as technology continues to evolve for this industry.
2. What according to you are some of the challenges plaguing the Construction Industry and how can they be effectively mitigated?
Labor and supply chain challenges continue to plague the industry with no immediate end in sight. Limiting the number of trades required on a project site and the number of skilled laborers by using industrialized prefabricated building components like wall panels and exterior finish panels helps minimize the impact of the limited labor pool and improves the construction schedule.
"With the introduction of cloud and software technology, industry standards for drawing and change order turnaround are now closer to two to five days."
Even with cloud computing and online coordination advancement, the automation between the engineering and architecture scope is still lagging. Frequently, coordination between MEPF rough still happens in the field, in real-time. Using cloud coordination platforms, digital twins, and other technology helps alleviate the negative impact of this reactive approach and mitigates issues before they become costly rework. A proactive approach to limiting and eliminating rework saves effort, schedule, and ultimately money.
Owners and project teams can easily overcome the everyday construction disruptors like inclement weather, labor shortage, and more to reduce project schedules, increase safety, and reduce environmental impact while completing their projects on time and within budget.
Also, adopting industrialized building products or modern construction methods seems to offer a reset to the construction mindset. Optimizing in one area of the process opens opportunities to continue optimizing other project scopes.
4. Do you have any advice for industry veterans or budding entrepreneurs from the Construction Industry space?
Anyone considering a solution that causes a shift in the process, whether it’s adopting project management software, cloud computing, AI, drones, offsite construction, etc., should invest as much time as possible researching. Upon choosing the right solution, the investment shouldn’t stop at the purchase price. Education and training are imperative if the solution is to be successful and generate long-term advantages. Also implementation should extend beyond the company and include sub-trades to encompass the entire project team.
3. Which are a few technological trends influencing the Construction Industry today? What are some of the best practices businesses should adopt today to steer ahead of competitors?
Industrialized construction is an up-and-coming trend in the US, but many countries in Europe have already adopted and found success with this modern approach to building. Industrialization is about optimizing the entire building process from design to occupancy through more efficient engineering, use of labor, optimized transport, and project sequencing using advanced planning, technology, offsite fabrication, and automation.