We’re halfway through 2022 and challenges in the construction industry are at an all-time high. Due to the aftermath of the Corona pandemic and disruption to global supply chains, businesses are facing intense cost and time pressures.
Underpinning these findings is PwC’s comprehensive study from March 2022. This study discussed three current challenges facing the construction industry. While supply chain issues and raw material availability remain major concerns for most, the challenge of digitalization follows directly in third place. A full 94% of interviewees s think that digitisation and increased automation will have a significant impact on the construction industry.
But what challenges are facing companies that want to digitise?
1. Digitising communication and collaboration
Cloud-based collaboration tools facilitate communication and cooperation on the construction site. This in turn reduces the likelihood of mistakes. For example, these tools can be used to keep the team up to date with news, like when the architect issues new plans. Or progress can be recorded, shared and then archived directly on-site. The increase in efficiency can be huge, which is why 81% of respondents by PwC see great potential here.
However, digital applications are only as good as the mobile data network and are of limited use in dead spots. While offline modes can help teams log their work and then sync it when they’re back in the office, that doesn’t help if you need to send or receive an emergency message.
2. Digitising end-to-end processes and workflows
This involves the digitization of processes in the administrative and operational areas as well as project processes. And this does not mean Excel-based stand-alone solutions, but comprehensive process mapping in a holistically integrated system. This is the only way to ensure long-term data integrity. In the best case, there is a complete link between the office and the construction site.
Many construction companies already see themselves well positioned in some smaller processes, but still need to catch up still exists in the operational processes. This extends from purchasing to logistics and ends with construction execution. One of the easiest way to do this is by integrating different software solutions together.
3. Lack of training in digital solutions – from BIM to laser-scanning and VR
While BIM (Building Information Modelling) is relatively well established and often used, VR and laser scanning are still relatively new construction technologies. Although most see enormous potential here, they consider skills in these new areas to be rather limited.
But the possibilities offered by laser scanning and VR are immense. Complex 3D models can be created within minutes, contact-free and cost-effectively. These can then be visualized and simulated for changes using VR before they are implemented. This can significantly reduce risks of subsequent change costs, for example. Companies should therefore invest both in upskilling their workforce and for looking out for new graduates with interesting skills.
4. Cyber security and data protection
Digitisation unfortunately also opens up many opportunities for targeted attacks and data protection leaks. That is why it is important to build a secure and protected IT infrastructure before services, processes and data are transferred to the system. In addition, there are legal data protection requirements, notable GDPR, which explain how data from both employees and customers must be stored.
The importance of data security and data protection is once again confirmed by Accenture’s latest cyber security study. Thus, the number of targeted attacks in 2021 increased by another 31% compared to the previous year. And SMEs are increasingly being targeted, as they often have less sophisticated security measures in place.
It’s therefore important to train your whole workforce on the importance of data security and how they could be affected – even if they don’t personally work in IT or a tech-based job.
5. Technical know-how and internal acceptance
One mistake that is often made when introducing new technologies and processes is not training employees sufficiently. As a result, the hoped-for efficiency and cost benefits are often missed because users are disappointed and frustrated. That’s why it’s important to rely on digital applications that are easy to learn and use.
Otherwise, you might find that your digital steps aren’t accepted internally and are instead rejected by users who don’t understand how it could benefit them.
How to master the challenges of digitization
There are certainly many more challenges that the construction industry must overcome on the path to digitization. But there are now some companies that specialize in software for construction companies.
For example, PlanRadar offers construction management software that can significantly advance your company’s digital communication, collaboration and processes. The software allows all project participants to communicate with each other on the construction site. A number of features are also offered to record and save project progress. If there are problems with the data network at the construction site, the data can also be recorded offline and then synchronized.
Some kinds of construction management software can be learned quickly and are very easy to use. You should also check that whatever software you choose meets all data protection and data security requirements. This means that you can ensure that your company’s data cannot be misused by unauthorized access.
Other providers, on the other hand, specialize in laser scanning and VR, with the help of which a first step into the metaverse can be taken. A variety of providers can also be found to make your business fit against cyber-attacks from the web, so that your data is securely available from anywhere.
All of this can help bring the construction industry 4.0 a big step closer. But in the end, it’s also always important to remember: any digitization is only as good as its user.