If you ask leaders in the construction industry what areas to focus on to be successful, you could get an array of different answers depending on who you ask. If you ask a general contractor, he will give you a different answer than the head architect, and she will give you a different answer than a construction software provider.
On the cutting edge of construction technology, we see automation, efficiency, and data management becoming essential to all projects. These advances mean fewer mistakes, fewer safety issues, and fewer unforeseen budgeting snags.<!--read_more-->
But really, that boils down to three basic necessities.
Successful, profitable construction projects all have three things in common, we have come to realize.
Successful, profitable projects are on time. Delays can be unavoidable due to weather, unforeseen breakdowns, or the like. However, these events must be proactively planned for. Some easy areas to focus on are project management and data management.
Project management should build in time for weather delays. No project is unaffected by weather delays. Unforeseen breakdowns can be managed through collecting data on all machinery to anticipate maintenance work.
Successful, profitable projects are under budget. Keeping to your budget is a huge influencer of success. Projects that go over budget can have significant consequences. Project budget can be influenced by every operating aspect of the company. To avoid later hiccups, it is important to ensure your review and approval process is clearly defined and easily followed. Change orders and RFIs should pass across the right desk to keep rework at a minimum.
Several tools exist to keep track of budgeting and help a project stay on track from that standpoint. Integrating software applications is one way to make sure all of the information is shared a visible to keep the budget on track.
Successful, profitable projects are safe. Safety is absolutely key in the construction industry. Incredible strides have been made over the last century to ensure that all employees stay safe on the job. Your job safety can also contribute to the labor morale and retention. Your labor force should be skilled and educated on safety precautions. This will help to boost your reputation and efficiency.
Read more about how technology has played a role in creating safer worksites.
Way before we were integrating software or even using walkie talkies on the jobsite, keeping construction projects on time, under budget, and safe have always been three keep attributes of a successful project. Technology has raised the bar and aided in making these very basic goals more achievable.
What does it mean to be a sustainable builder? A grass hut in the desert? Are there grass huts in the desert? Being a sustainable builder means building structures with the future and low-energy use in mind and implementing the green trends in construction. Using products and practices that will waste less and have fewer harmful byproducts is another large part of being sustainable in AEC.
Sustainably designed buildings and environments are put through a thoughtful process required to build green such as LEED certification requirements. The projects details are evaluated and optimized down to the smallest and most subtle detail. Sustainability in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) is becoming increasingly important as the earth continues to support growing human populations and larger industry.<!--read_more-->
There is no denying the importance of LEED. The positives of LEED building include saving money, creating a healthier environment, and promoting renewable, clean energy. Sustainability in AEC can be done in all different levels, including building design and construction, interior design and construction, building operations and maintenance, and neighborhood and urban development. Through mindful design, AEC is poised to play a big role in sustainability efforts globally.
Green trends in construction are quickly changing the way projects and planned and built. Beyond using green materials, technology has found its way into the construction industry in more creative ways as well. As the world’s population grows and creative solutions for construction and energy must be used, technology will continue to play a larger and larger role in the industry.
Construction technology has the ability to take AEC into sustainable practices now and in the future. Taking construction to the cutting edge of technology will help shape the future of AEC for the better. These practices support a healthier environment while saving money. Beyond simply meeting LEED requirements and using green materials, we have uncovered three trends to usher free construction into the future:
- Water Conservation
More emphasis is being put on water conservation from the project and planning phase. The fresh water supply in some regions is highly strained as it is and with increased climate change, the threat of drought is worsening. For this reason, reduced water consumption in building through water-conserving fixtures, rainwater recovery systems, and more efficient cooling systems are innovative and popular ways to go green in new construction. New products are created all the time to help with water conservation and some of the technology behind these products includes sensors, automated flow restrictors, and water use alerts.
- Zero-Net-Energy Buildings
As the name suggests, Zero-Net-Energy buildings are buildings with zero net energy consumption. For a building to qualify for a Zero-Net-Energy rating, the energy used by this structure must equal the amount of renewable energy created on this site. There are more buildings that claim to be Zero-Net-Energy capable than actually meet the strenuous standards. These buildings are still low-energy buildings, however, making them a step above the average structure. Energy-Plus-Buildings are the next step up. They return MORE energy to the grid than they use annually. These buildings are not as common as the Zero buildings, but knowing they are possible means more strives towards this green-friendly trend will be made. Zero-Net-Energy buildings are becoming more and more common and has been slowing making ground since 2011. With more and more cities and states requiring building performance disclosure, this is a good thing. Ten cities across the U.S. are demanding by 2030 that all new buildings be Zero-Net-Energy.
- Big Data
Large buildings are increasingly managed remotely through software platforms. These platforms provide performance monitoring, data analytics, visualization, fault detection, and energy portfolios. All of these functions use the cloud and gather big data. Big data can be applied to any industry and in construction, it has the power to bring green trends out of possible and into action. The more information that is known about a structure, the more direction can be provided about improvements to be made. It makes building automation possible as well as information management. Big data can be obtained through sensors throughout the building using IoT and aids in creating a greater awareness for energy upgrades or proof of meeting government standards.
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of buzz around the Internet of Things, or IoT. What is IoT and what can it do for you? We have the answers. The internet of things is a network of remotely controlled devices. Anything from your fridge or your babycam to the HVAC in your office building. Any of these physical things can be connected, or networked, and controlled remotely. The applications could be endless for your home. You could control everything from your garage door to your coffee maker and beyond. If you forget to turn off the oven or want to change the temperature on the thermostat, you can do it from your smartphone. It gives users so much more visibility and control, which can lead to more safety. How does it work? It’s actually quite simple. It is a combination of processors with real work electronic sensors.<!--read_more-->
These sensors are wirelessly networked so you can view and control them. Now to look at it from a construction standpoint. With some imagination, the construction industry could apply this technology to almost anything. Data could be taken from the field using sensors and alerts could be created when something is amiss. The more data you have, the more accurate the decision-making process can go. This saves time and money in construction. The machinery and equipment used in construction can be connected to the Internet of Things to let owners and users know when machine hours, fuel consumption, GPS tracking, and idle time. Knowing these key factors can help with scheduling preventative maintenance, increasing productivity. Being able to remotely test other essential equipment through IoT will help decision makers fix problems only when truly necessary. When the machinery is able to self-monitor, it also saves a lot of time. Sensors on machinery can also help avoid collisions and keep employees safe. Monitoring inventory is another useful way to apply IoT to construction. With IoT, inventory can be accurately tracked and managed. No more pen and pencil log books that can outdated and easily falsified. Time Logging can be done through IoT more accurately than many traditional forms of time logging. This is important because when these logs are falsified, it can have serious consequences. These are also much harder to falsify than traditional log books. Wearables and drones are other high tech pieces to this puzzle that can be connected, as well. The wearables could be in the form of an activity band that will keep track of his vitals and sleep patterns. Drones are able to collect all kinds of data and adding sensors so they are part of the IoT network will make that data easier to track and manage. Cost savings is one of the main benefits of IoT. Sensors allow you to manage all of the small details that can drain your budget. All devices must be networked together and communicate seamlessly for IoT to yield benefits. These integrations will ensure you are taking advantage of all of the data you collect from the many devices you connect.