When it comes to brick-and-mortar industries like construction, North American contractors are finding themselves at a crossroads. On the one hand, there is plenty of promising tech out there — from drones hovering over construction sites to off-site modular construction to BIM impacting pre-construction design. However, there is also mounting evidence of technology resistance.
In fact, a KPMG Global Construction Survey of 200+ senior executives revealed that as late as 2016, only 8 per cent of survey respondents could be categorized as cutting-edge visionaries. Only 20 per cent were aggressively disrupting their construction business model with leading technology. Nearly three-fourths of the respondents said they didn’t use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring.
Rapid Change Brings New Challenges
On a global scale, construction sites are more prone to errors, reworks, delays, and overruns than many other industries. This nagging inefficiency is one of the main drivers for contractors to adopt new technology. Canadian Construction Association (CCA) President Mary Van Buren also points to a potential labour shortage as a strong reason for small- to midsize firms to embrace new tech — especially when it comes to attracting younger workers.
The potential for construction tech is huge in Canada as construction contributes 7 per cent of the nation’s GDP and employs 1.4 million people. Many North American contractors are taking first steps by embracing new takeoff, estimating, and production management technologies. As a result, they are omitting duplication of effort, minimizing errors, and enjoying quicker mobile communication between the field and the office.
Even as pressure mounts to become more efficient, many firms are not convinced. For example, just 20 per cent of those surveyed by KPMG said they have a single, fully integrated project management system. They also found 69 per cent are either “followers” or “behind the curve,” according to the study. This hurts when it comes to driving consistency across projects—just 27 per cent reported having consistent controls.
What’s Holding Firms Back
Why do contractors fear new technology? Some say the expense of adopting new technology is not worth the risk. While they would love to train employees to be more efficient, they are hesitant to train them on the very technology that could help achieve it.
Part of this dilemma stems from contractors who lack the knowledge to select the right technology. The added cost of integrating disparate software solutions means contractors become unwilling to take a new product off the shelf—unless they can guarantee an immediate ROI.
One fact is clear: projects are getting more complex and challenging when it comes to scope and engineering. This is one reason Building Information Systems (BIM) is becoming more mainstream in Canada, according to Ivanka Iordanova, BIM-VDC director for Montreal-based Pomerleau Inc. While Europe may be ahead in the BIM game as it is required for tenders for public buildings in the UK, North America is embracing it as a catch-all for project management, procurement, material management, and more.
The Promise of New Technology
Today, there is much speculation as to what the construction industry will look like in the future. There is a lot to be excited about—from takeoff and estimating software to cloud-based systems to mobile apps. Plus, cutting-edge, next-generation innovations like advanced data and analytics, drones, automation, and robotics are expected to deliver even greater productivity.
No matter your trade, all contractors should consider taking first steps toward embracing new technology. On Center Software can help all contractors deliver swift, accurate tenders. Manually counting everything from drywall screws to light switches should never slow you down. With its overlay feature, contractors who use On-Screen Takeoff can save multiple hours of exhausting manual plan review. Being able to compare two versions of a drawing makes it easier to ensure all plan details are accurately captured. By using the software’s digital features, contractors can also seamlessly share plans between the office and the construction site. Take the next step — download a free trial of On-Screen Takeoff now.
Not sure you’re ready for software? Let us help you weigh the potential risks and rewards. Read our free eBook, An Estimator’s Guide: Assessing and Picking the Right Software, to get step-by-step advice to determine where your company is and where you should be headed. Download it now.