We’re living in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology is transforming our homes, our workplaces and our world. And many sectors have been quick to sign on to the latest solutions to boost productivity and streamline their operations.
While other industries have reaped the benefits of process and product innovations, the engineering and construction industries have been hesitant due to a variety of internal and external challenges — from difficulties when collaborating with suppliers to the reliance on many subcontractors on a single project, according to the World Economic Forum.
But, as the industry grapples with growing labor shortages, late projects, safety issues and a global pandemic, it’s also signaling a growing interest in construction tech. It might just be time for Construction 4.0.
“Companies are starting to see the opportunities technology brings to reduce wastage and duplication as well as control quality, time, and budget on projects,” according to an article on Oracle’s Construction and Engineering Blog. “They’re seeing how this impacts the bottom line as well as the company’s reputation. These things are critical for success in such a competitive market with such narrow margins.”
New technologies, big opportunities
The opportunities, already, are robust.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping the industry build new databases that provide a comprehensive look into a company’s operations and the insights required to make smart decisions for better efficiencies. AI also makes 3D modeling and building information modeling (BIM) possible, allowing contractors to construct virtual models that fine-tune budgeting and planning.
Robotics is changing how we build. Now, construction robots form walls, driverless vehicles move supplies and smart robots use imaging to uncover errors and problems early on, according to The Robot Report.
And with the Internet of Things — the technology that connects people, equipment, materials and other items to the computers that run our businesses — construction companies can fully automate their jobsites. Triax’s IoT-enabled Spot-r device, for example, allows contractors to skip traditional time sheets, get automated notifications when safety events occur, monitor the location of workers and equipment across projects, quickly pull up a worker’s certifications and immediately alert workers to evacuations.
The Oracle Industries Innovation Lab is providing an even bigger picture of the technologies poised to disrupt the industry — from what is possible now to what will be possible in the years to come in construction.
The lab is a simulated worksite that demonstrates the “transformative power” of new technologies, including IoT, drones, autonomous equipment, augmented reality, AI, machine learning and other developing technologies. We’re proud that Spot-r is among the technologies embedded into the lab.
The goal, according to Oracle, is to merge the experimental with the practical, so the industry can understand the full benefits of a connected jobsite.
Now it’s up to building companies and contractors to decide what’s next for them. Will they hold on to the same-old processes that have led to declines in productivity and delays? Or will they join the Fourth Industrial Revolution and embrace the new technologies that will transform their operations?