By Roman Smolevskiy, founder and CEO at A+ Construction & Remodeling.
By 2050, our world’s population is expected to grow to 10 billion people, and to keep pace in supporting them, the global construction industry needs to build 13,000 buildings a day.
That statistic, compiled by Statista and Autodesk, is staggering—even to those who are not in the construction industry. As a construction entrepreneur and startup investor, I know it can be efficiently and safely achieved—and with fewer environmental burdens—if we embrace the construction industry’s most powerful tool: technology.
Compared to other industries, construction has been slower to adopt new technologies. In a 2021 global construction survey by KPMG, only 16% of the respondents had fully integrated construction technology systems and tools. I understand why. There are many barriers to implementation: complex integrations, stiff learning curves, deciding which stakeholder should foot the bill, apprehensive employees—the list goes on.
With so few construction companies adopting the use of tech as part of their business operations, that leaves a lot of room for improvement and an enormous opportunity for construction entrepreneurs to boost their performance and grow their businesses.
Tech As A Tool
At my design-build construction firm, we’ve used the tech available to streamline our entire process. I believe my company’s adoption of technology was key to its rapid growth and success.
Technology equals efficiency, and it keeps you competitive in the marketplace. By implementing certain forms of technology, your company can lower overhead and pass those reduced costs on to the end client. How can this be done? Let’s drill down into how you can determine which technology is right for your organization at each step of business growth.
Planning Phase Tech
Before you even swing one hammer, a vast amount of planning and communication takes place. It’s important to implement a variety of software that expedites communications with your team and your clients.
When looking for project management tools, choose one that provides a high-level overview of your open projects and makes collaboration and communication simpler. Artificial intelligence, or AI tools, can swiftly analyze project data, and the predictive analytics it provides makes informed decisions faster.
To communicate findings with your team, bite-sized video communications turn what used to be a meeting into a video. Prioritize video solutions that can screen share and record voice to ensure seamless connectivity. Incorporating these tools into our workflow has replaced several of our former point solutions. The time we’ve saved in unnecessary meetings alone is immeasurable.
For the design process, technology can quickly bring a client’s vision to life in 3-D. A tool that produces digital twins is especially useful because it creates an exact replica of the construction project. This allows for 3-D walkthroughs and accurate measurements of job sites using just your cell phone. Having these scans can reduce the number of required visits to a client’s home, saving time and money for all involved.
Obtaining the permit is one of the most laborious and frustrating parts of the build. If your service spans multiple municipalities, it’s important to find permit application technology that adapts to the various requirements. Using this can cut down what is sometimes a multi-month process to just two to three weeks and speed up your process tremendously. And as a result, you can begin to increase your client load.
Building Phase Tech
As your company grows, it’s time to implement more tech into your building phase.
As more construction companies push to become environmentally sustainable, it’s important to consider partnering with organizations that provide energy-efficient structural products that are net zero and can still withstand hurricanes, earthquakes and fire. Builds with prefab materials are more affordable and go together quicker, having a swift and direct impact on the global housing crisis. At my company, I plan to include more builds with prefabricated materials.
3-D printing is a valuable tool, too, especially on remote job sites. Building with this technology eliminates freighting headaches, reduces the carbon footprint of the build and is zero-waste. These sustainable and efficient results are quickly replicable in a variety of mediums: from plastic to concrete, and even metal.
Prefabrication and on-demand printed materials are one way tech can improve the building process, but robotization is another way construction entrepreneurs can increase productivity.
Finding a robotic field printer that uses building information modeling or BIM software can slash the layout time by more than half. Crews would traditionally have to set the floor’s layout with a chalk line, but this innovation can print a full-scale model onto any surface. You can use robots in the materials warehouse setting, for demolition and to squeeze into tight spaces to perform tasks. Their use directly correlates to safer and more efficient job sites—two things that normally do not go together.
You may not be able to implement all the tech innovations into your business overnight, but it’s not impossible to find the right ones that match your goals and values. An exact blueprint for success with tech is hard to create because every construction firm is different. One thing every contractor can do, though, is be curious about how tech can help solve their problems.
Start small and implement one new thing at a time. Do the demos offered and try the free trials. By growing your network of tech-forward investors and entrepreneurs, you are constantly learning what’s available now, what will be soon and how those things can change the way you do business.
If you want to succeed as a construction entrepreneur, embrace construction technologies to grow productivity, revenue and positive impact.