Undoubtedly, it’s an incredible time for growth in Nashville. Cranes consistently span the skyline, proving that expansion is upon us in full force. Having worked for years with a multitude of Nashville-based architectural, engineering and construction firms, we understand first-hand how exciting this time is and how technology plays a role.
From taking full advantage of the cloud and mobile capabilities to using 3D scanners and augmented reality, 2016 is seeing big changes and increased adoption of IT solutions within the construction industry. Below is a list of what’s trending now so you can achieve a competitive edge and be the coolest kid on the construction playground:
Increased Cloud Usage
If you’re not using the cloud, it’s time. A platform for file sharing and storage, like Dropbox or our more robust and secure ConceptCloud File Sync, can radically change a construction company’s output. This kind of scalable and flexible cloud tool allows you to handle large files and collaborate with multiple subcontractors and clients with ease.
Files get revised and updated all the time, and sometimes a previous version is needed but it’s not easily accessible. Cloud backups readily fill this need, as the file can be restored from a previous point in time without much issue. The user is not limited to the storage capacity on a server or a personal hard drive, and the backups are transmitted safely and securely offsite.
Based on Sage’s 2016 Construction Business Outlook, if construction companies are not using the cloud, the main reason is because of security. The good news is that your files and information can be in the cloud and comprehensively protected – without hurting your bottom-line. Cloud security options range from SAS 70 and SOC II certified data storage centers to fortress-like anti-spam solutions for email, like our ConceptCloud Enterprise Email.
Mobile Technology and Near-Field Communication (NFC)
From tracking inventory and equipment to people (see wearables section below), a lot can be done with mobile devices and the addition of NFC in Apple and Android devices. Plus, with construction equipment joining the Internet of Things, you can get real-time data about your machines, fuel usage, GPS tracking, time logging and overall efficiency. Today’s technology brings the construction industry one step closer to an entirely connected and mobile jobsite.
Focus on IT Solutions
Increased IT Investment
Construction companies are prepared to give more money toward their information technology, according to the aforementioned Sage report. Their survey states that 42 percent of firms report investing at least 1 percent of their revenue in IT last year, up from 32 percent in surveys they conducted over the past two years. This focus on IT will allow firms to better ensure data is secure, facilitate smoother integration between software and apps and fully outline policies around IT and data management.
Outsourced IT Management
Most employees performing IT functions are doing it “by default” and are not fully trained and equipped IT managers, per the JBKnowledge 2015 Construction Technology Report. When construction companies have understaffed IT departments, it affects the security of all data – whether it’s in the cloud or on site. And on-site data can be compromised easier than files in the cloud, thanks to ransomware trojans, phishing attacks and malware. Because of that, contractors are relying more on outsourced IT managed services to oversee IT functions and keep data protected.
Taking Advantage of Emerging Technology
Drone systems are becoming more important in the construction industry because they can take on more tasks, fly without pilots and change batteries autonomously. They have been used more and more frequently for data capture and project status updates, and now drones can connect with machines and workers and track productivity. As they gain load-bearing capacity, they will also be able to transport tools and move materials and equipment. Plus, they’re really cool! Just pay attention to FAA regulations for commercial drone use.
Wearable technology available to construction companies includes watches, glasses, headsets, armbands, hardhats, safety vests, tools and more. From real-time views of surroundings to the ability to check email to warnings of vehicles approaching a road construction crew, these devices can capture and relay a great deal of important data.
3D laser scanning can create an as-built model of a structure within minutes. With a range of scanner options, including a camera accessory that works with an iPad, a 3D scan can be useful for estimating, modeling, surveying topography and project management. Scanners can be integrated with drone and wearable tech as well.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality (AR) enhances a physical, real-world environment with computer-generated sensory input. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated reality that simulates the real world, allowing users to be fully immersed in the (soon to be real) environment. Both AR and VR allow contractors to step inside their CAD and BIM models and see them in 3D – right on your phone or tablet – which greatly helps with space planning and visualizing design.
All this innovative technology has the potential to forever change the construction landscape and improve workflows. Of course, the big overarching trend is learning how to take all this data and technology and integrate it into a streamlined system. That solution will be different for each company as it requires customization to accommodate software and hardware as well as goals and dreams. And we look forward to helping you build that. The future is here. Let’s take advantage of it together.