A recent study by McKinsey & Company places the construction industry as the least digitalized among the major industrial sectors. Another McKinsey study showed that when digitalized, the construction industry can realize productivity gains of up to 15% and cost reductions up to 6%. Why then, despite these enormous benefits, has the uptake of digitalization been slow in construction? In this article, we answer this question and observe the tremendous impact and potential of digital transformation in the construction industry.
Digital business transformation is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model – Gartner, Inc
The construction industry & digital transformation
Large-scale construction projects normally involve multiple contractors and sub-contractors. The bricklayer and the plumber; the scaffold erector and the painter; the carpenter and the electrical worker: these workers have their expertise in a unique area.
Individually, they do not always have the financial or logistical bandwidth to digitally transform their operations with it not proving viable from a business perspective. Moreover, as their (often brief) contributions are only a bit of the overall project, implementing digital solutions in what amounts to a ‘silo’ has more pains than gains, especially as service delivery changes from one project to another.
These drawbacks are diminished in multi-unit, ‘one-stop shop’ construction companies that handle a variety or the entirety of construction tasks. In the next section, we examine some benefits of digital transformation for these companies.
Some benefits of digitalization to the construction industry
- Reduces the safety risks
- Improves decision making
- Enhances data management
- Simplifies planning and design
Reduces the safety risks
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, publishes a list of 10 ‘most frequently cited’ standards, fiscally updated to reflect the current industrial landscape. This list includes fall protection, control of hazardous energy, and scaffolding requirements – essentially a mini case study of the risks that exist in construction.
What digitalization does is to help construction companies put – and practically implement – enhanced safety measures that mitigate these risks. Companies can carry out a digitally-enabled and data-based risk assessment that quantifies risks, based on peculiar field scenarios, and categorizes them into low, moderate, and high risk, thus defining a starting point of risk reduction – from the highest-ranked. Also, safety compliance software streamlines safety inspections and lock-out tag-out (LOTO), giving workers quick access to LOTO procedures and adding more accountability to the process.
Improves decision making
Analyzing construction project data on manual spreadsheets is a slow approach that has a negative impact on productivity and time management. Supervisors can seldom see the ‘big picture’ on paper and consequently are hindered in their ability to make quick decisions that take into cognizance the flow of the project. But with the benefit of digital transformation, project supervisors can work off smart and real-time data analysis and insights, helping them to make precise, data-based decisions. And contrasted with paper tracking, these insights will unlock further opportunities to minimize cost
Enhances data capture and management
A significant amount of quality and granular data is ignored and/or not adequately mined in construction. From images to constraints and safety violations; so much raw data that can improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of construction projects is left unharnessed. By employing digitalization features and mediums, construction companies can capture these data and put them to bear for the achievement of project goals.
Furthermore, the array of data can be securely stored on a cloud platform (To benefit current and future construction projects) from where it can be easily accessed with deep search and Meta descriptors.
Simplifies planning and design
The planning and architectural design of construction projects constitute the foundational block and should be carried out scrupulously, with nothing left to chance. Whereas manually drawn building concepts can be detailed and thorough, it lacks the quality assurance of say, a digitally constructed building plan. Here, digital transformation provides easy access to building and safety regulations, allowing architects to model designs compliant with these regulations. They can test the real-life feasibility of the design, easily making revisions without needing to draw up another paper-based design.
Undergoing digital transformation? Some points to note for construction companies
- Progress in digital transformation is not always linear. The process – hardly straightforward – is crammed with a lot of technological ‘distractions’, mazes, and potential in-company hindrances. Forbes estimates that 7 in 10 digital transformations will fail.
- Companies should have definite goals for digitalization with clarity of purpose. Digital transformation and all the tools introduced should further the business goals and add operational value to the company.
- Before anything begins, the importance of digital transformation should be ‘sold’ to workers with emphasis given on how it will help their work.
- Change management should be implemented and internal positions created that reflects the management’s commitment to digitalization
Maximl’s vision is to empower the industrial deskless workforce with digital technologies and increase productivity via seamless collaboration in the workplace. Our solutions improve operational efficiency, and safety and quality compliance to help clients turn opportunities into business value.
Maximl can rapidly digitalize last-mile workflows to:
- Transform paper-based documents into a step-by-step guide
- Embed safety into the daily work routine
- Streamline inter and intra-department workflows
- Integrate proactive risk reduction into operations
- Provide real-time visibility into compliance