The rise of digital technology in the Australian construction sector is bringing about a wave of change that is both challenging and beneficial. In addition to improving efficiencies and safety across the industry, new platforms are changing relationship dynamics on work sites.
While there is a younger generation of construction industry professionals who are digital natives and entirely comfortable with working within an online environment, they are not a replacement for the old hands, who have decades of experience in on-site, face-to-face communication and problem-solving.
A fascinating and productive dynamic has emerged from the relationship between these two cohorts. It’s the older on-site project managers who are finding and applying technology to create new and interesting ways of working.
A recent round table, featuring experts from the government, industry, and education, uncovered how new work site dynamism is applying digital platforms to physical world problems.
Hosted by US-based construction industry digital platform Procore, the round table examined the need for technical flexibility to build new capability into digital systems to cater for the specific needs of individual work sites.
The challenge is to translate the digital efficiency of platform technology into work site efficiency improvements, and the pay-off is potentially huge.
A large construction firm that is able to deliver even a one per cent operational efficiency will enjoy a significant windfall. But adding to that the safety improvements and digital systems can quickly prove their worth.
Technology consumerisation of construction was another key theme of the round table. If a worker or project manager needs to go on a course to learn how to use the digital tools, then it’s the wrong tool. Digital tools must be simple yet powerful, unobtrusive and effective.
The round table also pointed to other countries where innovation in construction is seen as a vital ingredient to ensure that they could keep pace with shifts around urbanisation, smart cities and sustainability.
Site safety practices came up as an unexpected area where digital technology is making a difference, and often in surprising ways – site workers are coming up with new ways of using digital technology.
Participants also discussed how the adoption of BIM (Building Information Modelling) is adding a wow factor to client presentations but is having little impact on building sites.
Procore partnered with InnovationAus.com to produce The Future of Construction: Innovation Applied Issues Paper.