Regardless of industry focus or years in the business, most construction professionals agree that the process of selecting and implementing construction technology can be overwhelming.
This is not only because there is so much to learn when it comes to software, hardware and the devices themselves, but also because there is a lot to learn about the technology providers and potential partners as well.
If an organization is considering implementing new construction technology, it’s important to first understand and prioritize the needs of key stakeholders. This should also include identifying areas in the business that have the biggest ROI potential. In a perfect world, the organization’s biggest ‘pain points’ match up to the greatest opportunity for ROI. In practice, companies generally strike a balance between these two realities. In doing so, companies can make calculated and incremental technology investments for the biggest impact, while exerting less risk.
By following these adoption strategies, organizations will be more prepared to choose and deploy construction technology that will maximize monetary and time investments.
Consider the right technology partner
Having a trusted local partner to help implement new technology once it’s selected is one of the best ways to ensure success. A premier partner that understands the design and construction processes, as well as how information needs to flow between each phase, will ensure that team members are trained properly and that the equipment is fully utilized. This gives businesses the greatest competitive advantage. The right partner will be a consultant, advising on how to optimally implement technology for the applications and workflows of the company. Not only that, the right technology partner will also keep the company abreast of current technology and new options, which helps optimize resources and cut IT spend overtime.
When reviewing technology providers, be mindful of how long manufacturers have been in business and if they’re continually innovating. Startups or best-of-breed providers may offer cool apps, standalone collaboration or GPS positioning tools, but ROI may be handcuffed if that company discontinues its product line or is acquired. Choosing a technology vendor that offers solutions that span the entire construction continuum – from designing to building to maintaining a project – eliminates the hassle of integrating technology from multiple vendors down the road.
Portable technology is more valuable
Once purchased, the more often construction technology is used, the more valuable it becomes. For example, when evaluating components like GNSS machine control, consider if the technology can be moved from one machine to another independent of the machine type. Many providers offer ‘kits’ that make grade control systems portable, ensuring the technology is in use even if the primary machine is not. This gives contractors added flexibility and greater options when planning and executing projects. This adaptability often means fewer machines are needed onsite. Instead of transporting heavy equipment, machine operators can simply re-mount the necessary GNSS sensors and control boxes then load the local design files to begin work at another site.
Avoid costly downtime
On the flip side, any time equipment is unexpectedly down, it costs money. Minimize excess downtime by selecting technology that is rugged and well-tested, with solid support options. Contractors with capable and responsive service providers should get calls returned quickly and have access to immediate on-site assistance when and if a problem arises. Ask these questions beforehand and talk to references about their experiences.
Rely on a technology champion
Having a technology champion within an organization will pay dividends immediately. Many construction professionals new to GNSS select a project manager or operator that has used the technology in the past, and is now eager to share best practices. In these cases, a technology champion can get operators excited and up-to-speed quickly. Hands-on training will help convert operators to embrace the technology. In the machine control example, operators of all skill levels will quickly realize how machine control and guidance systems make it easier and faster to reach the desired design. Customers are seeing the value of GPS grade control as a tool to help them save money, with reduced staking costs and fuel use, minimizing the amount of base materials needed. With real-world training and support, managers can quickly see how GNSS grade control saves money, reduces staking costs and fuel use, minimizing rework and saving on materials needed. Team members that are personally invested and feel ‘in control’ of leveraging the technology will improve results and drive value.
Make sure technology is interoperable
Whether an organization is considering intelligent machine control for dozers and excavators or technology to support the planning and design phases of a project, which can include everything from feasibility planning and BIM modeling, to GNSS survey equipment, UAV survey and 3-D scanning technology, it’s important to consider the interoperability of each technology component. Selecting and implementing one piece of technology at a time is smart, if there’s a big-picture plan that accounts for data sharing between equipment first. This includes ensuring that the infrastructure allows for easy data exchange and communication between surveyors, grade checkers, site supervisors and machine operators. When information and communication flow freely across the jobsite in real time, project workflow is streamlined and productivity gains grow considerably.
Planning and successfully implementing new construction technology is undoubtedly a complex and challenging effort. However, taking a systematic and focused approach with a trusted and proven technology partner will help organizations meet these challenges and exceed expectations. With the right implementation strategies and mix of integrated hardware, software and mobility technologies, construction professionals can achieve greater visibility and centralized control across projects and in doing so achieve maximum value from each technology investment.