The digital age has brought unprecedented changes to construction and commercial real estate, complete with new applications and devices that have forever changed the ways that firms design and assemble buildings. The impact of these new tools can be seen on and off the job site, both before the project begins and while it is under way. In particular, improved BIM products, innovative IoT implementations, and emerging machine-learning applications have created possibilities for firms to rise above the difficulties facing the industry.
Machine learning opens up the future of construction management.
Machine learning is a complex technology that is increasingly being adopted in industries as diverse as finance and climate research. Neural networks and predictive AI are tools that will absolutely define the next decade for many companies around the globe, and the possibilities for this technology in construction are virtually endless.
- Cost predictions: Finance firms are already using cutting-edge machine learning tools to look as far into the future as possible in order to gauge the direction of every conceivable market. Construction firms could use similar technologies to predict the costs of materials and labor months or even years ahead, to measure the stability and profitability of current or potential projects.
- Site analysis: Predictive neural networks could also assist in determining the schedule for construction based on a particular site or time of construction. Models could be based on previous projects, helping management and independent consultants to construct a timeline and determine the potential for any given site.
- Project management assistant: Smart assistants are making their way into every walk of life, and construction could use them in project analysis at every stage. A smart assistant, collecting project data from every available source, could aim analysts and managers in the direction of the most pressing concerns and the most notable successes to improve efficiency and productivity.
Improving productivity and efficiency is critical for firms looking to thrive in the coming decade, and the above technologies have proven to be vital tools for promoting both. But they’ve also inspired new practices that are being adopted by larger construction firms, which makes their impact even greater.
By enabling the creation of complex three-dimensional models, BIM tools have given construction firms the power to plan their projects down to the last screw before ground is even broken. Due to technological advancements and increasing availability, new versions of BIM applications are going further by offering even more impressive capabilities.
Four- and even five-dimensional versions of BIM products are growing in popularity, with the ability to link components within the model to information related to their cost and estimated place in the construction schedule. This level of specificity allows firms to plan costs and schedules in the same place that decisions about architecture or equipment acquisitions are made. The BIM model can then be shared with investors as well as all key project stakeholders, without needing to create separate reports or presentations. 3D BIM capabilities are already making the application a staple in the construction industry, and the firms that use 5D BIM and beyond have an extremely efficient tool at their disposal.
The digital age has brought unprecedented changes to construction and commercial real estate, complete with new applications and devices that have forever changed the ways that firms design and assemble buildings. The Internet of Things (IoT) offers visibility and efficiency.
The construction industry is also increasing its implementation of the IoT by connecting various devices and sensors to the Internet. This offers construction firms more visibility into their supply lines and deeper knowledge of the daily progress of their job sites. IoT products and sensors have become much more effective in the past few years, and larger construction firms are using these advancements to great advantage.
Sensors placed on packages like building materials, equipment, and machinery are making delivery schedules more transparent, dramatically limiting unpleasant surprises like late deliveries or unexpectedly damaged goods. Sensor arrays can also be applied to heavy machinery operating on the job site, giving foremen and managers advanced warning about equipment that needs repair or replacement before accidents occur. This advance notice gives management the opportunity to complete repairs without project delays, not to mention limiting the possible danger to human life that faulty machinery represents. Given the workforce shortage currently impacting the industry, improved safety and decreased delays are two factors that firms must address if they want to stay competitive in the next decade.
Site selection is already benefiting from emerging technologies.
While machine learning may revolutionize the site selection process in the future, technologies like BIM are already being used for pre-construction scheduling and cost analysis to determine the value of possible sites. Clients can compare different sites based on cost, estimated time of completion, and other factors by using BIM’s high-quality information modeling. What’s more, pre-construction models can form the foundation of the actual project, saving significant time and prep work.
By enabling the creation of complex three-dimensional models, BIM tools have given construction firms the power to plan their projects down to the last screw before ground is even broken. As BIM grows more sophisticated and is integrated into more projects, the possibilities for its augmentation with machine learning seem endless. Information about regional economics and local development teams could be included in BIM projections, allowing project managers and owners to consider all relevant information within the BIM model itself.
Independent cost managers assist with new technologies.
As the technologies used to manage and schedule projects grow more complex and demanding, independent cost management has emerged as a valuable resource for the American construction industry. The construction industries in Europe and Asia have been utilizing independent cost management firms in greater numbers for many years, but the rising popularity of technologies like BIM and IoT has increased the demand for these companies in the U.S.
Instead of hiring full-time teams of people to manage every new piece of technology at their disposal, the industry is turning to independent cost managers for advice in these programs and their application to current projects. This approach offers a faster way to update scheduling and cost-management practices, as well as the opportunity to see the benefits of new construction management technologies firsthand to gauge their necessity.
Emerging and rapidly developing technologies are changing the construction landscape, both on and off the job site. BIM and the IoT are offering management teams unprecedented visibility into their supply chains and day-to-day operations, allowing them to increase productivity and avoid costly mistakes and miscalculations. Machine learning is also heralding new possibilities on and off the job site, giving workers and managers new tools to make tasks easier. The addition of robotic equipment also supplements a shrinking construction workforce. Expect to see the increasing prevalence of these techniques and technologies, as they support construction companies in handling the challenges of the coming decade.