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As a “bricks and mortar” industry heavily reliant on equipment, machinery, and a hands-on workforce, the construction sector has been slow to integrate technology. From 1947 – 2010, productivity in construction was at a plateau. But other industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture, were quick to embrace technological advancements and experienced massive increases in productivity. In recent years construction technology is finally having its insurgence.
Construction technology is reshaping the industry, helping meet deadlines, keeping project costs to a minimum, and ensuring worker safety in hazardous environments. It is possible that these new advancements are just what is needed to help manufacturers, distributors, and retailers mitigate the supply chain crisis.
Investment in Contech
By October 2021, U.S. construction technology investor funding reached a record-breaking $2.1 billion, more than a 100% increase from 2020. Crunchbase, an investment information platform, collected Construction Dive analysis data and found that this year early-stage funding in construction technology increased close to 100% from 2020, while late-stage funding jumped more than 150% percent in that same time. This means that early-stage funding in 2021 reached $738.3 million, while late-stage funding increased to $1.1 billion in the United States alone.
Henry D’Esposito, construction research lead at JLL, explained these record-breaking numbers, “Basically two or three years’ worth of construction tech adoption got squeezed into the nine months post-pandemic because everyone was shifting to being offsite, socially distancing and virtual tools.”
Current Contech Innovations
Introducing new technology to the construction field will benefit the entire construction value chain by increasing efficiency. And using big data and artificial intelligence throughout the design and construction process can transform the building sector. As well as help provide sustainable, and affordable housing.
Examples of technology implemented in the field include innovations such as handheld scanning devices. Scanning devices are not only easy to use, but significantly cut costs, and don’t require specialist knowledge or experience to carry out an accurate and highly detailed scan. Other technological advancements in the field include last-mile delivery platforms, digital marketplaces, and planning tools.
Startups, such as GoFor, Voyage Control, and Soil Connect, work to bring innovation to construction technology. Digital technology, like artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things, have improved construction design and production. The internet of Things refers to physical objects such as scanners that are embedded with sensors and software that can connect with other devices and exchange data over the internet.
How Contech Can Help Solve the Supply Chain Crisis
The digital transformation of the field is emerging as a powerful tool to help construction contractors to overcome supply chain disruptions and material procurement. Greg Leung, the CEO of Connect Homes, a California-based builder delivering high-tech housing solutions, says that technology strongly impacts the global supply chain.
Peter Jackson, CFO of national distributor Builders FirstSource told Forbes that its manufacturing has increased 50% since the beginning of the year as builders look for ways to take time out of the build cycle with prefabricated solutions. Prefabricated, or Prefab, construction that is powered by digital technology can help safely create sustainable, high-quality housing at speed. Prefab houses are innovatively assembled from components such as walls and roofs that are produced in factories and delivered to the site for assembly. This makes building houses cheaper and more efficient.
Builders FirstSource is actively expanding manufacturing facilities across the country and signing new ones with regularity now, providing open-ended truss systems, roof trusses, wall panels, and other products that take work off the job site for more efficiency. Builders FirstSource also is experimenting with robotics for a more automated process. In 2019, the company acquired Raney Construction, an innovative offsite construction company that reduces time and labor in the home building process.
To mitigate the supply chain crisis, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers must embrace technological advancements in the construction field. The future of Contech is exciting and innovative, with operational benefits to boot. Investments in Contech are growing exponentially with no signs of stopping.