Tech solves construction challenges

Infrastructure industry association FMI launched a report on the challenges facing construction, and how firms are leveraging technology to combat them.

Sponsored by construction management software business Procore, which closed a $75mn funding round in December 2018, the report looks at the ways in which tech can resolve problems faced by the construction industry.

Major challenges include:

  • A labour shortage
  • The cost of materials and labour
  • A growing demand for new housing, exacerbated by people moving to cities

The industry is already leveraging construction tech. According to the report, 68% use software for project financials, 58% for project management, and 55% for safety and risk management. Almost half (48%) of firms use software for equipment management, while 47% use it for field and labour management.

Meanwhile, ‘3D-printed houses’, robotics, drones, exoskeleton suits, and augmented reality are among the tech that’s already making construction projects more efficient.

However, where there’s room for more uptake is in employing tech to solve labour shortage. According to the FMI Talent Development Industry Study in 2017, 89% of construction firms said they were facing talent shortages, compared with 53% in 2013. Can firms use tech to resolve this issue?

Likewise, could firms better harness data to improve their productivity? The Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore used data and rigorous testing to combat the challenge posed by strong winds and wind-induced vibrations.

There are challenges with tech uptake. Of the 738 industry leaders surveyed in the Procore report, 34% found that tech introduced to their business wasn’t adopted by all the relevant people, 17% said it wasn’t easy to use, and 16% struggled to get it to integrate with pre-existing systems.

After a slow start, the construction industry is starting to buy into tech, as shown by recent M&A activity. With education around tech adoption, there appears to be potential to resolve some of the industry’s greatest challenges, and – in many ways – turn it on its head.