Construction Industry: Technology based innovation is sparking a revolution

Seismic shifts in technology and industry have become a veritable insignia of the times of that we live in. The cornucopia of technological solutions addressing specific need-gaps has led to significant innovations across sectors. There is a stark realization today that businesses and industries need to step up in times of unprecedented uncertainty. As such, the construction industry is no different. Presently, the focus of leveraging technological solutions in construction scenarios is large-scale projects where optimization is enhanced and the environmental impact is mitigated.

Let’s take a closer look at how the construction industry is shaping up based on insights from the technology challenges that the sector faces.

The technology conundrum

Over 49 million people are employed in India’s construction sector, making it the second largest employer sector wise. By 2025, India’s construction industry is poised to become the world’s third largest construction market. Presently, the construction sector is growing at a remarkable CAGR of 15.7 % and is expected to reach $738.5 billion this year.

Despite this rapid expansion, companies are hesitant in making technological investments:  Only 3% of India’s construction companies are currently undertaking technological transformation, whereas more than 70% have just recently started, according to the International Data Corporation. These businesses have put between 1% and 3% of their annual revenue on technology. According to the report, the global market for construction 4.0 (digitization in the construction) was valued at $9,786.9 million in 2019 and is projected to reach $29,101.5 million by 2027.

A technological renaissance

Despite the aforementioned challenges, the technological transition of the construction industry is inevitable. Technology is changing the industry’s appearance from its traditional viewpoints to those of the present day. Contractors, architects, engineers, and suppliers swiftly adapted to working and coordinating digitally, from holding site meetings via video call to processing digital orders, out of necessity. Although adoption of collaborative technologies has already increased significantly, the pandemic has also caused a painful shakeout. Reduced backlogs and more competitive bidding situations are being seen by many contractors, which has similarly affected the construction technology sector.

With the increase risks from climate change, the technological transition has led to new possibilities for reducing carbon emissions. Technology can assist the sector in carrying out significant projects while also taking the environment’s effects into account. One benefit of technological advancement is that it encourages the industry to minimise, reuse, and recycle materials, which in turn helps to significantly cut carbon emissions by preventing the burning of waste materials.

Technology is changing the Indian construction sector in a number of ways, including project planning, construction mapping, and site safety. It’s interesting to note that contractors and developers do not solely focus on ROI when evaluating the role of technology. Instead, they are focusing on long-term sustainability, which is definitely a good indication.

In real estate, a number of factors are influencing technology adoption. The demands of the client are growing, changing, and adapting. More modularized and custom-built designs are required, which calls for recalibrating current technology. The use of technology in the construction industry is also influenced by other elements including increased technological bandwidth, decreased hardware and software costs, and the availability of better labour.

What about large scale projects?

With the aid of 3D imaging, aerial drone mapping, and digital blueprints, the approach towards managing large scale construction projects has undergone a paradigm shift. It is now possible to manage every aspect of a large scale project and address need-gaps before initiating the construction phase. Highlighted below are key facets of large scale construction projects that are being revolutionized by technology:

Automation and greater precision:  Measurements were previously carried out manually, which increased the possibility of errors and required more resources. But everything has changed because of automation. Today, limited access drill rigs and other high-tech equipment are available, along with laser-based survey technology, to bring precision to everything. 

Software scaling: The planning and drawing stages involve the use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) software. But now that sophisticated 3-D technologies are available, their application in the building industry is much broader. It may assist in producing an automated project cost sheet, sparing developers the time-consuming labour of manually creating cost sheets.

Additionally, they may obtain granular insights, aid in the sequencing of complicated projects, and estimate the time and resources needed for each project phase. VR equipment can be added to BIM tools to increase their potential impact. One can make better decisions by using a VR tool to digitally see a project that is in the planning stages in a phased fashion.

Off-site fabrication: On-site piecemeal assembly of all project-related components is laborious and detrimental to the project’s effectiveness. The off-site fabrication, however, has made everything simple and effective. For instance, a pump unit builder that was manufactured elsewhere than the project site will help the site to increase production and efficiency.

Presently, technological advancements for construction are yet to reach a crescendo. However, technology is not only managing risks and reducing turnaround times in construction but is also likely to bring in a much needed transparency to the sector.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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