COVID-19 impact: How Technology will Help Rebuild the Construction Industry

The integration of remote monitoring and accountability mechanisms has also reduced the dependence on human resources.

While there is no doubt that COVID-19 has emerged as the single biggest challenge in history to the global economy, there is no reason to completely lose heart either.

Adversity often creates the path for greater opportunities.

Today, the world might be isolated due to international travel restrictions and large-scale Covid-19 protocols, but we also have technology to ensure business continuity at such times. One such sector where tech is set to play a major role is construction.

Construction might have been perceived as a conventional and labour dominated sector, but, as is evident now, there is plenty of opportunity for the digital transformation of this sector. One of the key recent developments in the sector has been the evolution of digital working processes. Since the global restrictions came into effect in March 2020, companies and service providers are increasingly realizing that it is possible to run most of the operations without mandatory physical presence. It is unlike the typical approach of the industry which has remained largely untouched by digital or web-based technologies. ‘Necessity is the mother of innovation’ and with the rapid surge in the number of internet users in the country, the Indian construction sector is now set for a transformation.

The biggest advantage of technology for the construction sector has come in the form of customer-centric online tools and platforms. Today, it is possible to digitally understand their preferences and specifications or expectations from the project. Accordingly, the material selection and design processes are carried out digitally and the customers can be provided with realistic design options.

The integration of design tools and automation has the potential of simplifying and expediting the work processes. Construction companies can utilize digital technology to create a seamless and fully automated platform wherein all processes such as submitting and approving construction design, budgets, bills, and status updates as well as digital remittances, are automated. This leads to factors like greater transparency, efficiency and adherence to timelines that benefit all stakeholders.

In the last few years, Indian consumers have become highly conscious of factors such as smart homes and sustainability. The usage of digital technology is the panacea for various ailments afflicting the Indian construction sector and it also provides the desired control to the customers.

There is a very high dependence of the construction ecosystem on dynamic factors such as market demand, the purchasing power of the people, labour availability etc. Today, we are witnessing a lot of instability in these areas. In such times, cloud-based tools and mobile apps are ideal to improve transparency, quality monitoring, cost-effectiveness and speed of construction etc.

Technology-driven construction service providers reap benefits like convergence and collaboration of all stakeholders. For instance, if we talk about construction then digital technology facilitates real-time remote monitoring of the construction progress and approvals. It is possible to bring down construction costs and material wastage by using digitally designed prefabricated components.

These advantages of technology are not lost upon the industry players. There is no doubt that the Indian construction sector continues to remain unorganized and labour intensive, but the change is clearly visible. Companies are rapidly transitioning to the digital environment and most of them have integrated systems such as project management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and client relationship management (CRM) into their working. The sales and marketing functions have also gone online. There is a tremendous focus on the introduction of technologies such as big data analytics, IoT, and AI-based equipment and processes as well as 3D design and printing technologies.

The integration of remote monitoring and accountability mechanisms has also reduced the dependence on human resources. Today, customers, as well as the project managers, can easily monitor the construction progress as well as the consumption of materials on a real-time basis. There are tools and applications available to remotely monitor the health of the onsite labours and other staff. Cameras can be used to monitor social distancing and hygiene adherence on various construction sites through a centralized control room. There is already a system in place to obtain various certifications and approvals digitally.

Considering all these factors, it becomes clear that technology has the wherewithal to address various major challenges faced by the construction industry. Usage of digital tools can boost efficiency, economy, and adherence in the sector and the future will belong to the technology-driven providers who optimally harness available as well as emerging processes to carry out their operations.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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Construction Industry