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The Role of Software Technology in Transforming Global Construction

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The Role of Software Technology in Transforming Global Construction

Software technology has dramatically changed the workplace experience. Here’s how it impacts productivity, safety, training, and labor shortages. 

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, an unsteady economy, and ongoing disruptions to the supply chain market, the global construction market saw substantial growth between 2022 to 2023. In fact, the market grew from $14503.87 billion in 2022 to $15461.84 billion in 2023 – a significant uptick from the years before, with no signs of slowing down. 

Thanks to the implementation of new technology and tools, the global construction market has been able to mitigate challenges while improving workplace productivity. This technology has been a driving force for innovation and has opened doors to new opportunities for on and off-site construction industry employees. 

Since introducing Computer-Aided Design Software in the late 1960s, the industry has seen a steady flow of new technology. This software is invaluable to construction sites and must be taken advantage of to stay ahead of the trends and streamline workplace success.

Let’s talk about the role of software technology in the global construction market.

What is Construction Technology?

Construction technology refers to various automation tools, software, processes, and techniques used on and off-site in the construction industry. These tools help with different aspects of projects and have been the driving force for helping construction companies build bigger and better buildings over the years. 

With the adoption of construction technology, site managers can monitor their sites with construction drones, engineers can visualize data with 3D modeling, and on-site employees can get the help they need with mundane, everyday tasks. 

Whether it’s basic on-site tech or advanced computer software, this technology is a must-have in this digital age and is changing how we work and think about the construction industry. 

To truly understand the role of software technology and how it has impacted the construction industry, there are two tools we need to consider:

Computer-Aided Design Software

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software helps develop digital models and designs. This helps individuals create 2D and 3D designs with precise detail and accuracy. These models help engineers visualize projects from multiple angles, providing a new perspective on the design components of a project. 

Since the late 1960s, this CAD technology has completely changed construction. It was a stepping stone for the tools to follow and has revolutionized the design process to allow engineers to tap into their creative side and visualize their progress in real-time. 

Building Information Modeling Software

Building Information Modeling (BIM) software is similar to CAD software. In 1982, ArchiCAD was developed and became the first BIM. By the mid-1980s, this technology was starting to be widely used in the construction industry.

This AI-based software tool helps architects and engineers envision and understand every structural component of a building or structure. This includes materials and performance characteristics. These digital models can then be analyzed, modified, and utilized throughout the entire building process. BIM also helps contractors manage information about a project in real-time and stay ahead of construction maintenance and operational components. 

Other Types of Construction Technology 

Many other 21st-century construction technology tools have also impacted the construction industry. Tools like 3D printing, robotic arm extruders, and drones have changed the workplace dynamic and have helped construction sites keep up with demand, lower costs, and improve building quality.

Major Areas Where Technology Is Impacting and Improving the Construction Industry

As construction technology becomes more accessible, it will dramatically transform the construction market. Since the late 1960s, we’ve seen a significant shift in productivity. However, studies suggest that over 78% of contractors still use a mix of software automation and spreadsheets, while 13% still rely solely on spreadsheets. 

Introducing new technology into the workplace is a daunting task. But it’s sure to change the workplace dynamic for the better. Instead of ignoring technology, it’s best to find a way to use this technology as an advantage and to allow your business to grow with the transformations. 

Here are the core areas in that construction technology is changing:

Keep up with the Demand

The construction industry needs to build roughly 13,000 buildings every day to keep up with the global population of 7 billion expected by 2050. With the labor shortages and supply chain disruptions: This doesn’t seem feasible. However, with the help of technology, construction companies can build lean, hard-working teams and automate the mundane tasks of the workweek. This will improve workplace efficiency and help enhance the production process. 

Improved Project Management 

BIM software is an Ai-based software tool that can help team members plan projects and better utilize resources. With BIM, engineers can visualize every aspect of a product, allowing them to create detailed plans, combat challenges, and make data-driven decisions. 

Improve the Safety and Training Process 

Technology can also help identify safety hazards and minimize the risk of workplace accidents. With the addition of sensors and other monitoring technologies, contractors and other on-site employees can reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities, saving sites time and money.

Labor Shortages

It is estimated that the construction industry will need to attract roughly 546,000 additional workers on top of the average hiring process to keep up with the current demand. This ongoing labor shortage can be one of the biggest hurdles for the industry. However, with construction technology, sites can complete more work with fewer workers and improve their training processes. This can help the global construction market attract top talent and build a workplace built on efficiency and productivity.

While construction technology can’t replace your team, it can improve productivity, increase efficiency, and encourage workplace collaboration. These tools keep your team on task during the workweek and can help your business reduce overhead costs and produce better results.

If your construction site isn’t utilizing technology – you risk falling behind. New technology and revelations are paving the way toward a technology-centric workplace. With the growing popularity of artificial intelligence and advanced software, there is no telling where the global construction market will be by 2050.


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Advanced Warehouse Automation: Don’t Forget to Train and Upskill Your Employees

The distribution centers (DCs) at the heart of today’s global retailers reflect the velocity of business, from the instantaneous purchasing made possible by e-commerce to the fulfillment operations that enable same-day deliveries. What makes this high-speed commerce possible is an increasingly wide array of high-performance automated warehouse systems and robotics.

Within DCs, sophisticated systems integrated with advanced software move materials faster, more effectively, and more accurately than ever before. Roaming shuttles deliver items directly to goods-to-person workstations, often supported by an automated army of fork trucks, palletizing robots, and robotic pickers.

Of course advanced automated systems and robots don’t operate in a vacuum. It is easy to forget the human side of these systems and the role it plays in their success. Like all technologies and tools, even the most advanced automated systems and robots must be backed up by people who are skilled in their use and best practices required to realize their full potential, maintenance and upkeep. 

Any system implementation is incomplete if it does not also include strategies to train and upskill employees. To do so, consider the following:

  • Focus on the opportunities that come with automation and robotics. For those in roles that are being augmented with automation, the opportunity to learn about the care and use of such systems represents a significant career advancement to acquire highly marketable skills. Additionally, this limits the manual, highly-repetitive tasks that make warehouse roles some of the most injury-prone according to recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Leadership should stress these and other positive impacts.
  • Experience in manual warehouse roles is often very valuable in the operation of automated systems and robots. I recently worked with a client’s pickers during the initial planning sessions for a new, highly automated high-capacity DC. As in other deployments, many of the most experienced and longstanding employees in manual roles possessed the most comprehensive understanding of the business processes that would need to be considered. Their knowledge of workflows was particularly valuable. These individuals are therefore some of the first that should be considered, not only for new roles focused on the operation and upkeep of automation, but also the upskilling required.
  • Look for employees who possess the talents and desire to work with automated systems like robots, AS/RS, autonomous vehicles, etc. Candidates should be driven employees, but those who are mechanically inclined are not the only ones to consider. Gamers, for example, are typically very strategic and adept at seeing patterns – an inclination directly applicable to fast-based warehouse environments. Remember that desire and attitude are key: the skills required to use, perfect and maintain automated systems can be learned and honed. Ideal candidates should also be self-starters who can take advantage of the autonomy automation gives to end users.
  • If possible, involve your top-pick employees and members of your automation team during the construction phase of automated and robotic systems. This is particularly important when new DCs are built or facilities are modernized. A large DC for a multi-channel retailer can include innumerable components. You want your workforce to be immediately familiar with the system when you turn it on – not a year after its operational. Early in your automation project is also the perfect time for your employees to learn from those who implement the systems and robotics and creates an opportunity to upskill in-house staff that should not be missed.
  • Create opportunities to invest in your employees. Access to a formal “Higher Education” course of study is inaccessible for many, and at times over-emphasized in the corporate world. There is, however, an alternative. Many colleges and universities now offer established training programs and certifications in robotics and engineering-related topics that can be used to strengthen in-house automation teams. Often such programs can be designed to directly address your operational imperatives.

Behind every great automated warehouse are knowledgeable and skilled people. Today, when the pace and scale of business requires more automation and innovation than ever before, it has never been more important to focus on the human resources needed to operate it, maintain it and perfect it over time. Keeping that in mind is the first step in realizing the full potential of the most promising innovations now revolutionizing materials handling.

Author’s Bio

Colin Thompson has more than two decades of experience in materials handling. He currently serves as the Vice President of Operations at Vanderlande, North America, where he oversees day-to-day operations. Colin received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Sciences from the University of Liverpool and also serves on the Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering Industrial Advisory Board at Kennesaw State University.


5 Best Practices for a Successful Technology Deployment

5 best practices for a successful technology deployment

Technology initiatives impact every level of an organization. To ensure a successful deployment in the face of limited resources and rapidly changing market landscapes, Tom Martucci, Chief Technology Officer, Consolidated Intermodal Technologies, outlines the top five best practices. Budd Lake, NJ, March 7, 2022—

Technology is the backbone of most companies’ strategic vision to address customers, markets, and industry demands. However, evaluating, selecting and then deploying a new business application across an organization’s operations can seem like a daunting task. And, while software technologies are increasingly important to an organization’s growth, their successful deployment and internal adoption can also invite expensive failure. Therefore, whether launching a new software technology across operations or migrating from one to another, having a precise evaluation and selection process in place drives operational effectiveness. It also reinforces transparency and fluidity throughout the organization.

In fact, employing a thorough evaluation mapping process is one of the most powerful tools that an organization has at its disposal. Failed technology initiatives are tied to an enormous loss of resources –namely lost time and money. Without an established evaluation and selection process, organizations run the risk of confusion, delays and conflicts within their teams’ operations. So, before rushing to deploy a new technology, businesses should take these important, but oftentimes, overlooked five best practices into consideration:

1. Establish Required Features and Resources

The most important factor is to have a well-defined process plan that identifies software requirements. This will create a clearer picture of user stories, integration points, and automation needs that may be lacking. Defining existing pain points within current processes is as significant as defining the new requirements and a desired process plan of the proposed business application solution.

Clearly outlining required features and identifying key resources helps determine and prevent any pitfalls that could stall a deployment. Moreover, in identifying key resources, it is vital to keep the lines of communication open with key stakeholders and assign responsibilities to all participants in the early stages of the project. It is critical to create a “single team” mindset, establishing requirements based on the needs of departments, staff and executives.

It is also important to consider the intricacies of deployment, looking at on-premise vs. in the cloud, assessing how many locations and how many users as well as permission levels. By doing so, it will ensure that the initiative will meet everyone’s expectations. Points to consider: Do you have an internal and vendor agreement with the timeline and project plan structure? What is your current system missing that you wish it could do? Would a new technology improve some aspect of your operation?

2. Understand Customer Needs

Another key factor to take into account is how this newly deployed business application will serve your customers. Conducting an audit of the existing system will reveal how customers are currently being served as well as uncover gaps. This assessment is an essential component in determining how to move forward. Increasingly, organizations are relying on technologies that balance consistency and flexibility to further extract speed-to-market benefits. In an age when customers expect exactly what they want when they want it, forward-thinking organizations need to consider a 360-degree approach to fully realize the true value of any technology investment.

By fully understanding the customer, primary speed-to-market goals will be incorporated that can be realized from day one. Points to consider: Who is using it? Is it working well? Where are the service gaps? Does the staff have the right skills and knowledge to support it? How quickly or slowly can you implement this software? How well does it adapt to new market requirements? What are the expectations with future enhancements or upgrades from the applications provider?

3. Mind The Budget

In order to create budgetary parameters, organizations must closely examine the cost/benefit analysis and corporate ROI thresholds ahead of starting the project. By utilizing a modeling technique, organizations will be able to estimate project effort, development hours, staff size, risk propensity, hardware requirements, and more. Another aspect to examine is the necessary staff hours needed to maintain the projected timeline. If not considered, sufficient resources will not be allocated, which could result in unmet deadlines as well as additional expense.

Further, an important area to review is any upfront and hidden costs as well as ongoing investment expenses (maintenance, operating expenses, upgrade costs, extra features, support staff, etc.). It is necessary to project these costs for the next three to five years in operational budget plans. Points to consider: If replacing a legacy system, what are the associated costs? What are the cost implications to add or remove users, resources, functions or features? Is there flexibility to get a better rate for longer-term contracts? How will this deployment impact my budget today and over the course of the next three-to-five years?

4. Incorporate Security at Every Level

A new business application deployment should not compromise any security best practice; instead, it should seamlessly work with and comply with existing security standards. Robust security becomes even more critical during a deployment period. The software provider should assess the amount of security and compliance the organization requires. The implementation of vital security tools such as multifactor authentication can strengthen security against potential cyber threats. Hence, it is important to establish who can access data as well as have the ability to adjust and revoke permissions levels, as needed.

Points to consider: Is the software provider aligned with your security strategy? Does it integrate well with your existing security standards? Does the software offer ongoing support and fixes? How frequently is data backed up? What does disaster recovery look like? What security assurances are provided by the software vendor and for how long?

5. Set the Integration Parameters

Lastly, you need to fully recognize what level of integration is required during implementation by reviewing the current technology stack and identifying its associated benefits, challenges and costs. Depending on the level of integration, it might require additional hours to get all systems fully operable. Furthermore, the true success of a new or upgraded technology deployment into an organization is not achieved without understanding the overall operational benefits of the new system. Therefore, before going live, it is imperative to load test and closely examine how the business application solution behaves against your original requirements as well as typical daily scenarios and business processes.

By closely scrutinizing the capabilities of the new system against the original requirements, businesses will be well-positioned to determine its current and future effectiveness. Points to consider: Does this solution integrate into your existing system given the organizational and customer pain points? How easily will the software integrate with your corporate application architecture? Is there anything additional needed to integrate smoothly across the organization? In closing, undertaking a business application roll-out is no small task. However, having a carefully vetted evaluation plan in place will ensure a smooth execution.

By employing these recommended best practices, organizations will be on the right track towards a successful deployment that will enable improved efficiencies, increased team productivity levels as well as optimized business operations. As a result, the entire organization will be able to address not only current market demands but anticipate future ones.