By Kayla Matthews, Freelance Journalist
COVID-19 has led to substantial losses in nearly all industries, and construction is no exception. When the outbreak subsides, economic recovery will most likely be an elongated process. To shorten this period as much as possible, companies will need to take advantage of new construction technologies.
Next-gen tech is a valuable resource to construction companies at any time, but especially coming out of recession. By leveraging technology, firms can recover their COVID-19 losses in less time. Here are five critical areas in which construction technology can lead the sector to recovery.
1. Providing New Projects
The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how the U.S. needs to improve its technological infrastructure. The nation needs to embrace innovations like the IoT to weather future crises, and this requires supporting foundations. This rising need means more projects for construction companies.
The country’s infrastructure is already in desperate need of reform. The American Society of Civil Engineers says most of it fails to meet modern standards, much less the requirements of tomorrow. The need for things like improved energy grids and 5G cell towers will provide more jobs for the industry.
2. Filling In for Absent Workers
Construction has been facing a labor shortage for some time now, and COVID-19 has made this worse. The economy won’t bounce back immediately, and the industry’s workers will likely be slow to return. Firms and contractors can turn to construction robots to make up for the lack of human workers.
Robots can perform nearly half of all construction jobs, and they don’t require a salary or get tired. Before firms can hire back their full staff, they can use robots on new projects in the meantime. With technology and employees working side-by-side, companies can do twice the work with the same workforce.
3. Increasing Productivity
New construction technologies don’t just fill in for absent workers but help present employees stay productive. If the industry is to recover quickly, it needs to improve its historically low productivity levels. Technology like data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) can find and improve areas of inefficiency.
AI applications such as neural networks can analyze construction sites to find flaws or potential issues. Managers can then address these problems early, before fixing them becomes a costly or lengthy undertaking. This kind of tech can also reduce the time it takes to plan and schedule projects.
4. Acquiring Equipment
One of the primary challenges facing construction amid a recession is the cost of equipment. Construction companies need to take on more projects to regain capital, but doing so means spending more on machinery. By turning to technology, the sector can reduce otherwise prohibitive equipment costs.
Everyday innovations like the internet provide contractors with the means to find the most affordable machinery. Firms can use the web to find reliable equipment at discounted prices they likely won’t be able to get in brick-and-mortar stores. Leveraging the advantages of e-commerce allows construction firms to save costs wherever possible.
5. Optimizing the Planning Phase
Technology doesn’t just help construction companies in the acquisition and building phases. Inefficiencies and mistakes in planning can also adversely affect the cost and time of construction. Firms and contractors can use big data in building information modeling (BIM) to avoid these costly errors.
Big data analytics can offer valuable insights in the modeling phase that human analysts may overlook. When JE Dunn integrated data-driven BIM into their work, they cut costs by 18% and finished weeks ahead of schedule. With these advantages, construction firms can make the most of each project, recovering faster.
Tech Leads the Way Amid COVID-19
If it weren’t for technology, the economic side effects of COVID-19 would have been far more severe. Tech provides more versatile and efficient ways of doing things, allowing industries to survive despite experiencing substantial losses. Similarly, tech will play an essential role in rebuilding the economy.
Even with new construction advancements, the industry won’t regain its lost revenue instantly. It will be a steady, ongoing process, but tech can make it a shorter one than what it would be otherwise. Recovery won’t be immediate, but thanks to technology, it won’t drag on for years either.