Despite significant investments and innovations in tech, one gap remains – bridging field data to the office.
Construction tech continues to thrive. In fact, $50 billion was invested in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) between 2020-2022, an 85 percent boost over the previous three years, according to data from Pitchbook. This makes sense when you consider the global AEC sector is on track to reach nearly $14 trillion by 2037, according to Oxford Economics. The flywheel gains even more momentum as contractors report technology adoption is leading to double-digit profit increases, according to JB Knowledge’s latest Construction Tech Report.
The hypergrowth in construction technology is being driven by the industry’s strong demand for infrastructure, a shortage of skilled jobsite labor and increased pressure for data transparency and integration, according to a recent report by McKinsey. While construction business owners and decision makers understand the value of digitizing paper-based and manual business processes, there remains an information gap from the field to the office.
Since profits are made on the job site, knowing what is happening in the field is critical to every aspect of decision making. It’s also necessary for maximum safety and compliance. At first, this sounds like a simple fix. Just provide site supervisors and project managers with a tool or app to use on the job site, but the reality is not that simple.
The culture of construction job sites is physical activity. Also, many business processes are still done using paper or smartphone apps that don’t connect to a companywide platform. This results in someone back in the office having to rekey information from the field, which cuts into profits by raising admin costs and increasing the likelihood of human error. In turn, this limits a construction company’s ability to quickly identify and address safety risks and project overruns and maintain proper documentation for compliance record keeping.
Another cultural factor is the nature of construction being a projects business. Every jobsite is likely to have its own technology based on the experience, preferences and budget of the project manager. Also, clients may require certain technologies to be used on the job.
As a result, JB Knowledge reports that it’s common to see three construction apps on a job site, and six is not out of the question. Along with app sprawl and budget bloat, this creates an even wider information gap between the field and the office. This is one of the main reasons why low- and no-code technology is leading the drive to dynamic work management in construction.
Designed for people without technical or software development backgrounds, no code allows anybody to quickly build an app using an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. This makes it easier to modernize analog habits and bring field information closer to the office without requiring a heavy IT lift.
For example, using low/no-code, anybody on a jobsite can whip up an inspection form, work or change order, or a compliance and safety checklist. They can add photos, videos, audio, notes, etc., and immediately report potential hazards. The app or forms can automatically feed into a centralized platform or database back in the office, ensuring real time updates get to the right people.
This enables jobsite workers to focus on building and streamlines admin by eliminating the time previously spent rekeying or going through various data sources and tools in search of information for compliance forms, OSHA regulations, etc. In fact, a recent survey by Quickbase found that 67% of workers spend between 15-20 hours each week just looking for the information they need to do their job. This lost productivity, known as “gray work,” is further driving the shift toward no- and low-code. An additional benefit of low/no code is a centralized platform for the team to access the information they need without getting mired in tools and apps. After all, smart decisions are based on being able to quickly get the right information, not amassing the largest app and tool collection.
For the construction industry, no- and low-code improves productivity, safety and compliance by:
Streamlining inspections: Customized digital forms can be easily created and adjusted to align with local and state compliance requirements. Additionally, the ability to support various file types including text and images creates a single source of truth that can be uploaded to stakeholders at the company and local government offices, if required.
Improving jobsite safety: The number one priority on every jobsite is safety. Low code boosts safety through the ability to quickly capture and create detailed notes from the field that identify potential safety risks and hazards. This leads to faster responses, more engaging jobsite tool talks, and lessons learned that benefit the entire crew.
Automating reporting and notifications: An automated safety reporting system, facilitated by no- and low-code technology, ensures immediate notifications are sent to the right stakeholders. With preset triggers, field workers can ensure critical safety issues are addressed without delay.
Providing Real-Time Compliance Metrics: Workers can easily capture and access compliance metrics such as the Total Reportable Incident Rate (TRIR), Lost Time Incident Rate (LTIR), or Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART). Being able to visualize compliance metrics and related data provides fresh insights into areas for improvement while protecting the company against potential fines.
Centralizing Record Keeping: Helps to lower and ultimately eliminate gray work while ensuring the contractor is always prepared in the event of an inspection, claim, lawsuit or audit.
Construction tech shows no signs of slowing. For contractors to realize its full benefits, the technology should be easy to access and use, provide valuable information when it’s needed, and help protect workers and clients from incidents, project delays or accidents.