The construction industry is one of the most critical sectors in the Iowa economy, representing 5% of the state's overall economic activity and spread across nearly ten thousand companies employing approximately 80,000 Iowans today vs. just over 60,000 a decade ago.
One reason for this phenomenal growth has been the construction industry's dynamic focus on efficiency and scalability. As market demand for housing and other development increases, construction industry leaders need to find every possible way to manage growth effectively in their operations.
One key area of opportunity for Iowa construction companies is in construction management technology. Specifically, four major trends are helping to shape powerful opportunities to optimize operations within strategically focused construction firms. These include:
Drones and LiDAR - In many cases, the first step to effective construction management is to be found in gaining a truly accurate picture of site considerations and characteristics. Historically, traditional surveying has been used to assess a building site when needed. However, today LiDAR (light detection and ranging) coupled with drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) can be used to assess site characteristics in detail, pick up nuances that traditional methods may miss, and capture true 'on-the-ground' realities on the job site over time. This can dramatically improve situational awareness and managerial precision for complex construction sites and multi-site projects.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) - One of the great challenges facing builders, especially those involved in complex or one-off projects, is proper analysis of project costs, both labor costs and material costs. Building Information Modeling or BIM seeks to use architectural plans and site data to create 3D models that can be accurately used to evaluate, select and program specific decisions on a given project. For example, changes in window material or in roof slope design could significantly increase or decrease the overall project cost (one common scenario is that a shift to a less expensive material may actually increase labor costs). Using BIM can help construction firms such as general contractors effectively identify and respond to these considerations before decisions are set in stone.
Job Site Applications - Like most industries, the construction sector first saw new software applications develop with a focus on the desktop computer in the company office. Client/server and later web/cloud applications were generally designed to be feature-rich and easily usable...on a full-size desktop inside an office or job site trailer. As a result, management at the job site suffered for lack of easy access to lightweight applications that would provide streamlined functionality over cellular bandwidth and with a feature set optimized for the needs of the site foreman and other field-based personnel. Today, application vendors are closing this gap -- some with field-specific versions of their core products and others with field management solutions exclusively designed for this audience to use on phones, tablets and laptops and in low-bandwidth environments.
Document Management - Finally, construction companies have seen a major evolution in how document management is supported. One clear shift in this focus area is the move away from generic file management systems (such as Box.com or Dropbox) and toward industry-tailored solutions such as Procore or ProjectSite. What these applications provide, above and beyond their industry-agnostic counterparts, is the ability to organize special file types (such as CAD drawings and 3D models), tie them to transmittals and correspondence, and integrate with construction industry ERP products and other platforms.
Viewing these trends as a whole, what we see is clear recognition that the construction industry is unique: it has specific and highly complex requirements which must be understood and addressed, if technology is to add lasting value to growth-driven construction firms.
That's why it is so important to deploy information technology effectively, under the watchful eye and 24/7 care of a trained, knowledgeable IT team. With managed IT services from Dymin, you can achieve this goal effectively by relying on our outsourced, end-to-end IT services for your Iowa construction business.
Contact Dymin Systems to talk to an expert about your options.