Technology and its many versatile arms have a hand in almost everything we undertake. It can make complex processes more simple, it can make formerly impossible tasks more possible, and it can even help revolutionize previously stagnating industries.
In the case of the construction industry, technology is responsible for many of its greatest ongoing developments, enabling contractors and conglomerates the equal opportunity for increased profitability and process simplification.
The construction industry has been awash with complex, human-error riddled payroll and billing systems for (at least) the past century. The nature of construction and its reliance on a web of individually compensated contractors (that is, employees who are not centrally employed under one binding agreement) has meant that there has been no simple ways to conduct payroll and invoicing transactions.
With the proliferation of digital technology and its ongoing uptake in the construction industry, contractor billing software is now a simple, uncomplicated reality. Tasks which were formerly time-consuming and fraught with error are now quick, easily communicated, and able to be performed automatically.
Computer assisted design
Perhaps the biggest digital revelation and game-changer to the industry would be the advent of CAD (computer aided design). Use of CAD has become so normalized in architecture, building, and infrastructure that there are several lucrative and proprietary programs (AutoCAD, TurboCAD et al.) which are considered de-facto to the process. These programs, while being used by human operators and engineers, can also be automated and employed in a way which incorporates projections and environmental concerns.
CAD is also easily shared, output and transmissible; meaning that the data that it generates (drawings, sketches and project files) can be disseminated across the world instantly, saving time, money and labour. In an industry reliant on the global marketplace, this ease-of-transmission makes CAD a smart, future-proof technology.
Digital maps, GPS, and topographical information are now all available on the internet and through app-based programs on digital devices – meaning that this necessary data is easily accessed and shared cross-site and cross-country.
Where it would have previously been the job of a team of employees to maintain site-specific information (terrain data, mapping and other geographic detail), digital software and information can now effectively monitor ongoing geotechnical concerns.
This is also relevant to workplace health and safety and site management; digital platforms and tracking can help to log and pinpoint areas of concern on-site, maintaining data accuracy, such as location, time and any other subjective sensitive data which is often eroded by time.
The eye in the sky
Drone technology has also allowed previously impossible projects to move forward. Robotic, remotely controlled aircraft-mounted cameras are able to access and survey areas which were previously inaccessible, and able only to be conjured via theoretical projection, or omitted altogether.
This use of digital imaging and technology aims for a more holistic form of project development, enabling complex project tracking and documentation through detailed imagery and video.
The result is that companies and contractors are better able to understand their sites and how they fit into a greater landscape, and how these designs may be better integrated into the environmental landscape in the future.
The uptake of technology in the construction industry has allowed it to proliferate and prosper where it might have otherwise floundered. Software solutions, such as CAD and contractor billing software allow operators and contractors to save time and energy, which is better directed into their respective areas of expertise. The development of automation through these programs has also saved costs and consumables, all of which improve the bottom line for corporates and consumers.