Connected construction: what the modern industry needs

Posted by Karen on Oct 26, 2015 12:00:00 AM
Construction companies often find themselves managing large scale projects throughout the country. These sites need to be able to communicate with each other and with head office. Telephone isn’t good enough, they’ll need to review construction plans and collaborate with colleagues around the country, allowing decisions to be made faster and the job to get done quicker.

Communication and collaboration

Construction is a collaborative industry. The nature of the job dictates that while some workers will be out on the job site, others, such as architects, may be hundreds of miles away at head office. The client may not even be located in the same country as the project.

There needs to be a system in place which allows all parties to upload, share and edit documents and plans crucial to the construction project. Yet you can have the best collaborative technology in the world, but if the internet is down, work can quickly grind to a halt. A reliable connection, with a low level of downtime and a strong service level agreement, is vital. However, slow internet speeds can be just as damaging. If it takes an hour or more for the blueprints to upload, that costs the business money and leads to projects overrunning and budgets being blown. Super-fast broadband can help combat these issues, but remote construction sites are likely to continue to struggle unless the issue of servicing rural and remote locations with super-fast broadband isn’t remedied.

Accessing data

By 2016, the Government will require contractors to use “collaborative 3D building information modelling” (BIM) on all government construction projects. This means every detail around a construction project will need to be digitised and added to a central project management system that everyone involved in the project can access and contribute to.

The government wants to modernise the construction industry, as well as reduce its own construction project costs, but it’s clear that the BIM system could be adopted industry wide – eventually. Again, one of the major stumbling blocks to this would be connectivity and the prevalence of high-speed broadband. If an entire project is managed via an online project management system, internet access will prove essential for all involved no matter where they are. Construction companies can modernise all they like, they can start using new information management systems, and upgrade all of their IT technology. They can issue all of their employees with tablets and smartphones, allowing them easy access to the information they need, but if they can’t connect to the internet, or are plagued by dropped signals or slow upload and download speeds, that investment will be useless. A modernised construction industry needs reliable, high-speed internet connectivity to prosper.
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