Areas for Innovation in the Construction Industry
The construction industry saw overall growth in 2019, and the years ahead remain promising for this thriving market. According to an Oxford Economics study, the global construction market is expected to grow by 70% between 2013 and 2025, from $8.7 trillion to $15 trillion. Despite this positive perspective and projected growth, margins in the construction sector remain low and actors need to continue to reduce costs. Thus there are still some issues that the industry can address to enhance efficiency. Notably, the industry suffers from a lack of internal communication, costly equipment breakdowns, and adverse environmental impacts.
Lack of Real-Time Communications
Communication issues in the construction sector cause huge budgetary losses. The multiplicity of actors involved in projects – subcontractors, contractors, and managers – makes collaboration complicated. Moreover, the absence of a system centralising all the data about the construction underway creates confusion among collaborators who typically do not have a global, shared understanding of the project. This situation often leads to misunderstandings in the follow-up of the project or between site operators in the field. As a result, there are often temporary delays in the construction projects.
Furthermore, these issues have a terrible impact on the long-term value of assets. This is confirmed by FMI’s (Fails Management Institute) technology practice lead, Jay Snyder: “Poor communication among team members, and incorrect or inaccessible information that workers need to do their job, is costing the construction industry tens of billions of dollars annually.” FMI even points out that poor communications on construction sites cost the US construction industry $17 billion a year.
Delays in the field are similarly generated by equipment degradation and failure. In fact, equipment replacement accounts for about 40% of the total cost of construction projects due to machinery and equipment breakdowns caused by poor maintenance. New reports indicate that the time wasted on non-optimal activities at building sites accounts for an overspending of $177 billion per year in the US alone. This number is exacerbated by the fact that an average of four hours a week are spent on fixing mistakes or reworking projects. This inefficient use of time compounded by miscommunication results in mistakes that reduce the lifespan of important and expensive machinery.
Negative Environmental Impact
One of the challenges that has become increasingly prevalent for this industry is addressing climate change and adhering to environmental regulations. With room for improvement to become a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly sector, construction accounts for up to 40% of the world’s carbon emissions. Industrial processes, infrastructure, and transport all contribute to these emissions. Furthermore, operations often contribute to environmental degradation via waste. In fact, the largest source of waste in the EU comes from construction and demolition waste.
The construction industry faces many challenges, but they can easily be lessened or eliminated. Integrating technologies and innovative processes into the value chain is an efficient way to overcome these challenges and optimise construction sites. The use of technology in the construction industry is particularly relevant for resolving the communications and equipment breakdown issues, which often result in huge financial losses. Many industry giants are teaming up with startups and emerging technologies to find efficient solutions to communication, operations, and environmental challenges. Find out how digital innovations are positively impacting the construction industry in the next article on the benefits of new technology in the construction industry.