Navigating Disruption with Improved Insights from Technical Advancements
To say the pandemic disrupted the construction industry is an understatement, but it did fare better than, say, the travel/tourism and automotive industries. Even so, construction firms continue to struggle with unresolved supply chain, labor, and raw material constraints.
Navigating these disruptions has forced construction businesses to fast-track their digital transformation plans. This is confirmed by a 2021 Construction Executive (CE) article, which notes: “While the world came to a screeching halt last spring , the construction industry pivoted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect workers and keep essential projects moving forward. This was made possible through digital transformation.”
The article defines digital transformation as “the process of integrating digital technology into all facets of a business’s operations…implementing digital tools and technology that harness the power of data to make operations more efficient, productive and safe.”
This pivot to modern technology is one of the main construction trends of 2022, and the trend encompasses different forms of digital technology, including:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) / automation.
- Data visualization / 3D imaging.
- Cloud-based ERP solutions.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into how these different technologies are impacting the construction industry.
Expanded AI and Automation
It’s no secret that the construction industry is considered a “laggard” in terms of adopting technology, but the rush to digitally transform during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped them play catch-up. So has the industry’s recent push to incorporate AI and automation.
AI takes data (lots and lots of data) and analyzes it—generating insights organizations can use to become more efficient and profitable. Before AI, manually wading through these mounds of data proved expensive and time consuming, and people returned with little to show for their efforts. However, automating this critical and complex process pays some amazing dividends.
For example, construction firms can use AI to track a projects’ progress, manage equipment/transportation, and increase worker safety. A Deloitte article on AI and Advanced Analytics (AA) in the construction and infrastructure (C&I) industry says AI can mitigate inaccurate cost estimates and timelines. The Deloitte authors, Laureano Alvarez and Galo De Reyna, further note:
AI and AA can assist in the design review process (e.g. layout optimization), bidding process (e.g. predictive models of evolution of raw material prices) and postmortem analysis (e.g. natural language processing to identify comparable work consignments) by analyzing vast amounts of internal unstructured data (such as bidding documents) and external data (such as commodity prices) to provide insights from previous projects. In doing so, C&I teams can generate more accurate estimates, reducing budgets and timeline deviations by an estimated 10-20% and engineering hours by 10-30%.
Alvarez and De Reyna also suggest that AI can help provide real-time insights into securing resources, anticipating risks, minimizing costs, automating administrative tasks, analyzing worker productivity, and more.
Automation also comes in another form beyond AI. Robots. As WIRED says, these robots perform repetitive tasks, such as welding, drilling, and bricklaying.
AI and automation are clearly important construction trends for 2022, and construction firms may want to jump on board to stay relevant (in other words, competitive) in today’s digital environment.
3D Imaging and Data Visualization
3D imaging or modeling uses software to create a 3D representation of a 2D object. In construction, being able to visualize the completed project—down to measurements, materials, layout, etc.—helps both the construction firm and the client imagine, design, and complete a project efficiently, affordably, and accurately. There’s obviously more to it (so check out this BuilderSpace.com article for details). But the bottom line is: 3D imaging is a must-have capability for today’s construction firms.
Data visualization is also a must-have. In simple terms, it involves sharing vital project data with all stakeholders—from partners and project managers to the customer—via cloud-based software. This heightened view of current operations boosts efficiency across the organization.
Cloud ERP As a Resourcing and Management Solution
“Construction digital innovations” is fast becoming a phrase that rings true for construction companies. At least, it’s ringing true for those that are embracing modern technology, staying on top of construction trends, and revolutionizing the way they do business—all to the betterment of their employees and clients.
These same construction firms will want to consider implementing a cloud-based ERP solution to help them further improve their overall efficiency. A cloud-based ERP system is a single, centralized application where data from every department converges, allowing front office, back office, and field employees to access updated, accurate information whenever they need it, from wherever they are. With capabilities ranging from financials, reporting, and job cost accounting to project management, payroll, inventory, and CRM, cloud-based ERP systems give construction firms a connected platform through which they can manage projects, budgets, activities, change orders, documents, compliance, subcontracts, and more.
Very few construction ERP solutions include all the above functionalities in addition to built-in AI, automation, and data visualization.
One of them is Acumatica.
How Acumatica Can Help
Acumatica Construction Management gives users a tool specifically designed to manage a multitude of construction projects and their complex needs. Acumatica’s open platform also extends the solution—allowing seamless integrations with third-party applications, like ProEst, Procore, DocuSign, and many more.
As construction trends evolve, Acumatica’s flexible, affordable, and scalable solution can help construction firms continue to succeed and thrive. Contact our team to ask any questions and/or to schedule a demonstration.