How smart construction firms can leverage leading trends to excel in 2019
The last 12 months have been very successful for the construction industry across APAC, which continues to represent the largest market worldwide. Nonetheless, construction businesses’ success in 2018 was limited by significant productivity challenges.
In Australia and New Zealand, firms lost a third of all working hours to unproductive activities–at a total cost of $36.5 billion. Crucially, businesses are missing the chance to leverage the advances of digital technologies, creating serious disconnections in the industry.
However, as we enter 2019, the future of construction in APAC looks bright. Output in the industry is set to grow by 7.1% in Australia alone. Importantly, there are opportunities for businesses to realise significant performance improvements if they can adopt new technology and make full use of digital tools on the jobsite.
Here, PlanGrid’s Tomy Praveen, APAC General Manager of PlanGrid spotlights five technology predictions for construction in APAC with advice on how businesses can thrive in 2019.
1) The $8.4 billion cost of data loss drives greater digital adoption
Data loss represents a significant financial impact for construction organisations. Failing to accurately capture and transfer data between construction phases, from the design to the build to the handover, can cause significant delays and expensive mistakes. In Australia and New Zealand alone, rework caused by inaccurate data and communication cost businesses $8.4 billion in 2018.
In 2019, this data loss will become a critical commercial driving factor for firms to embrace digital technology throughout the construction process. Businesses will be able to adopt new tools faster than ever before, thanks to a younger generation of employees who are more comfortable adapting to new technology.
Construction firms who can successfully introduce new technology will not only realise significant operational efficiencies but will be able to access a greater quantity of data to positively impact their overarching business strategy–and secure commercial success in the months ahead.
2) Mobile technology will be the focus for boosting jobsite performance
Construction firms have frequently suffered from a gap between technology and the jobsite. Only 44% of businesses give project managers mobile devices to use on-site–and worse, just 8% regularly use devices to access data and collaborate. This is a serious limitation and contributes to the 4.9 hours that every employee spends looking for information each week.
In 2019, jobsite productivity will become a key competitive differentiator. Successful firms will increasingly recognise the productivity gap on jobsites and invest in mobile devices to support their employees in the field. The businesses that make full use of mobile technology will benefit from increased efficiency, a reduction in rework, more impactful visual defect lists, better collaboration and improvements in employee engagement.
3) Collaboration between contractors and subcontractors will improve with shared digital platforms
Collaboration is becoming more important to businesses’ success than ever before. The rise of innovative construction methodologies like modular construction and the drive towards newer, more sustainable building materials is leading to greater specialisation amongst businesses.
At present, the industry suffers from collaboration challenges. Contractors and building professionals often work in siloes, without easy access to shared information. The most common reason for projects taking longer than expected is poor communication between stakeholders, while the average employee loses 3.4 hours a week to conflict resolution.
In the next 12 months, contractors will seek to tackle this issue by using mobile technology. Project leaders will have a greater mandate than ever before to push subcontractors to use the same mobile digital platforms. This will improve operations on the jobsite through real-time updates to drawings, clear assignment of responsibilities and accessible defect lists; meanwhile, management teams will have more accurate information to drive project success. Adopting software that’s easy for everyone to use–and well-suited to the jobsite–will be a critical advantage for close collaboration.
4) Startups will bring new technology advances to construction
Construction software is growing fast and the last 14 months have seen a number of high-profile acquisitions. In 2019, the industry’s growing digital maturity and the success of homegrown software technology will encourage even more ‘con-tech’ startups to the APAC region.
Positively, this will create more choice for construction businesses to select software that’s exactly tailored to their needs. Some startups will also enable the early adoption of emerging technologies like 3D printing, which is an exciting prospect for the region. But in turn, ensuring that different software platforms can work together will become increasingly important for individual construction organisations.
Interoperability is critical to the success of new digital tools. Where new software fails to meet expectations, it’s often because it’s a poor fit with existing systems. Being able to access rich and meaningful data on the construction project also depends on the integration on every platform. For firms to realise the full benefit of their technology investment in 2019, it will be important to look closely at integration features like APIs and ensure that new technology can integrate well into existing software platforms.
5) Blockchain and BIM gather momentum
Accountability across every area of construction will become steadily more important for businesses in 2019. The industry will see a push for greater transparency in the supply chain with a clear division of responsibilities between contractors and subcontractors and stringent quality assurance during the closing phases of construction projects.
Businesses will consequently be keen to explore the potential of blockchain as a means of recording and auditing critical information. In the next 12 months, larger companies will investigate and realise the benefits, following initial steps from prebuild specialists into this space. Ultimately, blockchain has the potential to create a whole of transparency in construction.
In 2019, more firms–from large contractors to smaller specialists–will also be able to realise the benefits of building information modelling (BIM) on the jobsite. This technology will become easier to use on the jobsite, prompting wider adoption to efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.
A Bright Future for Construction in APAC
The future outlook is very bright for construction in APAC throughout 2019. But to take full advantage of this opportunity–and to secure their place in a very competitive landscape–it will be critical for businesses to make real performance improvements by leveraging the productivity benefits of construction technology.
Firms should use the present time of growth to invest in their own performance. Digital tools can improve output on the jobsite, prevent data loss, significantly enhance collaboration and track important data from the beginning to end of the construction project. With the right technology strategy, construction firms can use 2019 to accelerate their digital journey and build more efficiently into the future.
Download the Construction Disconnected report for more insights into how technology can improve productivity during 2019.