Managing a construction project has always been a difficult ordeal. More recently, a lack of skilled labourers coupled with increased material costs has made it even harder to finish projects under budget and within the agreed-upon timeframe.

Individual construction business owners can do little to affect the price of lumber or the demands of the labour market, but that doesn't mean they should give up hope of maintaining reasonable profit margins. It's perfectly possible to leverage modern technology to streamline construction businesses, allowing business owners to cut costs without cutting back on quality.

Embracing Software Solutions

Embracing software solutions like enterprise-level planning, or ERP systems for your construction business can help to streamline the management process. ERP systems provide access to comprehensive datasets related not just to scheduling and material acquisition but also to accounting, equipment management, and much more. Having an ERP system in place allows project managers, business owners, and other stakeholders to make data-driven decisions about all aspects of running the company.

While ERP systems help to streamline the management of construction firms, they aren't very effective for managing individual projects. For that, an integrated construction project management program will be a better fit. Project management software helps to streamline individual projects by keeping workers and project managers up-to-date with what's going on, sending real-time updates to team members, and identifying issues in advance.

The Role of Automation

Ongoing labour shortages in the construction industry have forced business owners and project managers to get more creative. Some of the forms of automation used on construction sites and elsewhere sound like parts of a science fiction novel, but the future is here, and these technologies are real. They include:
  • Drones that monitor or inspect sites instead of human workers.
  • Robots are programmed to perform mundane, repetitive tasks like bricklaying or rebar tying.
  • Self-driving heavy equipment that can navigate construction sites on its own.
  • Automated workflow tools that increase worker efficiency.
Of course, not all construction tasks can be automated. Business owners and project managers should think of automation as a means of helping their human workforces achieve maximum productivity, not as a replacement for entire teams of labourers.

AI and Machine Learning

None of the most impressive advancements in construction site productivity would be possible without artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These novel technologies make it possible to analyze incredibly large datasets and use that information to make accurate predictions about future outcomes. Machine learning allows AI algorithms to improve themselves over time without human intervention so they can provide more accurate information.

AI can improve worker productivity by tracking employees with smartphones or wearables and reducing the amount of time they waste moving about the construction site by telling them where tools or materials are located. With this kind of system, sensors located on the materials and equipment communicate with the workers' wearables. In other worksite management systems, AI-driven robots are used to monitor progress and provide real-time data that can be used to improve productivity.

The Future Is Now

Business owners across all industries have been embracing modern technology. While the construction industry has been slow to adopt some of these solutions, that's finally starting to change. The only way to stay competitive in a highly digitized world is to embrace technology and start putting it to good use both on construction sites and behind the scenes.