Piling Canada

Putting Technology to Work in Your Business

The many benefits to construction companies

One out of four Canadian construction decision-makers still uses paper-based records or non-digital processes as part of their business workflow. If that sounds like you, you might want to take note.

Technology isn’t going anywhere and in fact, when leveraged, is key to providing a competitive advantage to the companies using it now and in the future.

Construction is a high-volume, low-margin industry that’s continually squeezed by competition, material cost increases and ongoing labour shortages. Therefore, it is increasingly difficult for companies to remain on the sidelines when it comes to applying technology in everything, from how they estimate and manage projects, to how they plan and execute builds.

Construction is a high-volume, low-margin industry that’s continually squeezed by competition, material cost increases and ongoing labour shortages.

So how does the application of technology make work easier? Technology can and will change a construction company in the following ways:

  • Decision-making: Information is critical to keeping a project on time and on budget. Waiting days or weeks to know whether a project is over the estimate for labour or costs can be detrimental to the bottom line. The application of technology, such as project management software and onsite tracking, offers solutions to give decision-makers real-time data, which makes adjusting to mitigate time and budget overruns easier, and increases the overall profitability of any job.
  • Team communication: Everyone can’t be everywhere all the time. There are a lot of moving parts in any project, such as drawing revisions, change orders, schedule changes, etc. On many projects, up to 25 per cent of the total time is spent on reworking or rectifying issues, and a lot of that is due to communication. Applying enterprise-integrated software can streamline communication across the company, giving everyone access to real-time and accurate data, while reducing the need for unnecessary meetings, phone calls, site visits, etc.
  • Employee training and engagement: The shortage of workers means it is critical for any company to have the ability to train employees. Training on-site can be costly, but with the introduction of virtual reality and augmented reality, training and simulations with real-time information overlays are shortening training times, reducing errors and improving collaboration across teams.
  • Employee safety: Compliance is an important part of any effective safety program. There are apps and software programs designed to make everything from site inspection to near-miss reporting easier, to improve the overall safety of employees. On another front, personal safety equipment continues to evolve. The introduction of wearable technologies such as exoskeletons (devises that provide physical support to reduce strain, increase productivity and enhance worker safety), connected hardhats (technology that monitors location, motion and temperature) and voltage sensors (devices that radically reduce the risk of electrical contact injuries and electrocution) will increase worker safety in the future.
  • Completing work: Technologies such as 3D laser scanners, 360-degree cameras, laser levels and drones are changing how jobsites are prepared and managed. Prefab construction continues to become more prevalent, which allows for the use of humanoid labourers and robot swarms (both variations of robotics) to complete repetitive tasks at manufacturing sites, providing for more on-site rapid construction.
  • Planning work: Artificial intelligence is not only changing what you see while surfing the web, it can speed up planning, optimizing options and reducing overall building costs. Software like ALICE, “The world’s first and only construction optioneering platform that allows you to explore numerous potential ways to build your project – before you ever break ground,” will continue to push how large-scale projects are designed and how builds are undertaken, according to Alice Technologies.

For any business in the construction industry to survive, there is a specific list of things they must do: they must use all their assets effectively, from their tools and machinery straight through to their people; they must build quickly to minimize material cost increases and labour expansion; they must minimize rework and they must win work. There are proven technologies on the market that make these tasks easier, with promises of even more in the future. It is an exciting time to be in construction and will only become more exciting in the next decade as technology pushes industry to do work differently. 

This article was originally published in Building Rural Manitoba magazine and is reprinted with permission.

Category: Business

About Us

Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

Sign Up

Submit your email to receive our e-newsletter.