The more things you do concurrently on a construction project, the faster you complete the job. While this construction management statement seems to be a no-brainer, the challenge is figuring out which tasks can proceed simultaneously without hazards or unacceptable risk. It involves scheduling spaces and zones, timing work schedules, bringing in or removing equipment, and so many other facets of the project. You need control over economizing the use of available space and the speed at which construction takes place.
In the quest to under promise and over deliver, companies may be hesitant to embrace new technology in case something goes wrong and breaks those (often contractual) promises.
Traditionally the construction industry did not embrace innovation. And the root belief was that construction companies were not innovative, perhaps lazy, even unsophisticated. However, that is far from the truth. Up to now, some believe the technology has not been there for companies to rely on.
Construction projects are larger and more complex, more expensive per day than projects in any other industry, with sometimes millions of pages of documents to back them up and thousands of working parts. In addition, whereas thousands of identical cars can be produced on an assembly line, every construction project is different. It has not been easy to digitize construction projects, and it has taken a multi-step process to accomplish that. First the technology was needed to digitize design. Then other steps needed to follow.
In fact, construction companies have been quick at adopting technology in one vertical. Horizontal adoption of technology enabling tech across all industries and segments (finance, media, etc) has taken much longer.
Innovation is not limited to “sophisticated” people. In fact, most sophisticates would shun the process of developing new technology, including repeated failures and pushback from people insisting that you can’t succeed. It takes time, perseverance and requires learning the many ways to not do something. Tech innovation is a process of solving one problem in order to unlock a solution to the next problem. There are few solutions that are quick and easy. This is not a pleasant journey, and the true reward only comes with success at the end of the journey. Fortunately, humans are good at standing up to adversity. As many motivators remind us, if we’re not failing, then we are not doing anything significant.
The explosion of big data in construction alone is an indication that we have been digitizing so much of our projects, not even truly understanding how that data will eventually be used. Even though things are digitized, people in the real world on the real jobsite still need to communicate. The next frontier for construction may be adding context to the data sets collected on jobs. The need for understanding will add another dimension in the quest to under promise and over deliver.
Tune in to season 4, episode 5 of The AEC Disruptors Podcast as Rene Morkos explains what sets the construction industry apart when it comes to technology adoption.