At the beginning of 2020, we may take the technological advances of the past century for granted. According to History.com, the middle class only started buying cars after mass production cut costs and dealers started offering car loan purchases in the 1920s. Household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and even pop-up toasters also became mainstream. As people spend less time doing housework and commuting, the general population spent more time going to the movies, watching movies, or listening to newly purchased radios. Sounds familiar?
More recently, people are still looking for technological advances to shorten the time it takes to do housework – i.e. H. robot vacuum cleaner. There has also been a shift for people with leisure time to see the plethora of streaming TV options on any mobile device or to listen to music and podcasts from anywhere. While the 1920s focused on mobility and comfort for the general consumer, the years until the 2020s focused again on mobility and comfort for the consumer at home and in the office.
The main theme of both centuries, which includes technological progress, is to reduce costs, increase efficiency and save time. Some industries are leading the way in these advances, but the construction industry has always had a reputation for lagging behind. There are many facets of the building industry that technology cannot and currently may not replace. However, labor and resource scarcity, price fluctuations, waste generation and safety concerns have led to the construction industry rapidly switching to technology in recent years.
By using software, companies can show transparency about time and resources. Software programs can help plan hours and track hours in real time. Many find it more difficult (and more important) to track wages for projects when the latest recent wage changes have been made. Non-union companies can use the similar tracking software to also provide transparency to the owner.
Software also provides cost and schedule analysis before, during, and after a project. Contractors who anticipate risks and delays can often use planning software to take on more projects in high season and reduce employee turnover while they are not assigned to a project. The combination of software and cloud-based apps takes collaboration and real-time data to the next level.
GPS software is also becoming increasingly common in the construction industry. GPS can be used to make equipment on a construction site more efficient by entering coordinates to follow. GPS tracking software can be used to monitor device delivery times. Using similar technology, managers can be told who entered a construction site, when, and for how long the person was on the construction site.
Contractors have increasingly used drones to reduce the time it takes to compute, provide broader views for 3D imaging, and reduce the risk of someone trying to get a similar view in a dangerous situation.
Virtual and augmented reality are becoming increasingly popular in the planning phase in the design industry. Being able to show an owner a large-scale project using VR or AR can reduce costs and meet a project's schedule by making changes before starting to build a project. VR and AR can also be used for training purposes to increase security and reduce costs. A worker can learn how to safely operate a device, tool or process with VR programs.
The construction industry has made great strides in the right direction, but there are still obstacles to wider use. High-speed Internet access in rural areas impairs contractors' ability to work with real-time software program data, monitor supplies, manage opening hours, and track equipment. The high price of technologies such as advanced drones can also prevent smaller construction companies from making investments. However, prices are likely to decrease over time, as will automobile prices in the 1920s.
As technology advances, the opportunities to make work more efficient and cost-effective will continue to increase. The use of technology counteracts the labor shortage and at the same time offers higher profit margins with reduced costs, time efficiency and better cooperation.
Megan Short is the managing director of the Springfield Contractors Association. She can be reached at email@example.com.