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The Latest Technology Trends and What Contractors Need to Know About the Future

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Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry was heading toward new technological advances. Everyone was hearing about drones, virtual reality, and 3D scanning. But now, as the world battles COVID-19, technology advances are preparing the construction industry for the many changes ahead to endure the pandemic.   

Autodesk Construction Cloud combines advanced technology, a unique builders’ network, and predictive insights to connect people and data across the building lifecycle. Their portfolio brings together Assemble, BIM 360, BuildingConnected, and PlanGrid.  

“While the adoption of new technology has been steadily on the rise in our industry, the pandemic has appeared to hit the fast forward button,” says Allison Scott, Director of Construction Thought Leadership & Customer Marketing at Autodesk Construction Solutions. “In the 2020 Autodesk and AGC of America Workforce Survey, 40% of firms have adopted new hardware or software due to the pandemic – and we’re seeing three clear trends drive that adoption.”  

Scott says those three trends are adoption of technology to increase safety, adoption of cloud-based products, and embrace digital solutions.   

“The first and most urgent trend is the adoption of technology that is increasing workplace safety during this time,” says Scott. “Autodesk recently released new COVID-related templates to help teams on the jobsite ensure they’re meeting state and federal requirements. These are now among the top used templates in PlanGrid – accounting for 24 percent of all templates created on the platform.” 

PlanGrid safety reports overall saw a 273 percent increase in use from March through August. These safety reports help crews continue driving projects forward while making job sites safe for workers and everyone involved along the way.   

“The second trend is the adoption of cloud-based products that enable a more connected design and construction process – a game-changer within the industry and growing trend even before the pandemic began,” continues Scott. “Moving data to the cloud and shifting to a connected construction approach allows teams to collaborate efficiently and effectively across the lifecycle of a project, drastically reduce data loss from one phase to the next, and break down silos by keeping all critical information in one common location that the whole team can work within, no matter where they are.” 

The pandemic has only accelerated the switch to the cloud. According to Forbes1, cloud-based tools were surging in popularity, but the onset of COVID-19 has caused the demand to skyrocket. Cloud computing, which has been touted for its flexibility, reliability, and security, has emerged as one of the few saving graces for businesses during the pandemic. It is critical for companies to maintain operations, but even more critical for their ability to continue to service their customers.  

“For instance, the rate of new project creation in Autodesk’s BIM 360 Design jumped approximately 350 percent globally since working conditions shifted from office to home in mid-February,” says Scott. “This evolution to collaborative, cloud-based solutions keep projects moving forward – especially as we all practice social distancing and adhere to state and federal requirements.”  

As more and more teams embrace a wider array of digital solutions on the whole, firms are more likely to achieve both time and cost savings, mitigate the overall business impact of both the labor shortage and pandemic, therefore setting themselves up for long-term resiliency and success.  

Mobile technology, as we know it today, is a new concept. Modern smartphones have been around for just over a decade with the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 and the first Android device in 2008. Prior to this, the best things you could count as mobile tech was a laptop equipped with an AirCard and a PDA with limited functionality.  

According to ConstructConnect.com, adopting mobile technology into construction industry workflow, makes sense. Between transporting information from the office, meetings, to pre-bid conferences, industry professionals are always on the go. The ability to access tools and information easily helps to increase productivity anywhere.2  

ABIS provides automation tools designed for the construction industry, and utilizes an integrated computer system called ERP, that allows businesses to integrate different aspects of their business such as production, logistics, inventory, and accounting.  

According to Russell Schulte, President of ABIS, “The most important tool in today’s technology for a contractor is a mobile device that allows for documenting the job, time tracking, purchase orders, and records retrieval,” says Schulte. “Imagine being able to pull up any drawing at any time. Basically, put all information that one needs on the jobsite in the hands of the crew. The accuracy and time savings greatly pay for the investment many times over. When people onsite can instantly answer all their questions themselves, it gives everyone in the company more time to do more important things.”  

As the construction industry continues to work through and after the COVID-19 pandemic, construction companies that can adopt, adapt to, and leverage technology will help get an edge on the competition and keep growing.  

Resources 

  1. Ellis, Evan. Forbes Magazine. The Current Pandemic Gives Cloud Computing a Needed Jolt. 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/05/22/the-current-pandemic-gives-cloud-computing-a-needed-jolt/#2c8093e56a09  
  1. Jones, Kendall. Construct Connect. Going Mobile: The Benefits of Mobile Construction Technology. 2018. https://www.constructconnect.com/blog/going-mobile-benefits-mobile-construction-technology  

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