Technology in Construction and Why the Industry Is Still Lagging

As technology advances, more industries are turning to ecommerce, automation and digital collaboration.

Yet, the construction industry is still lagging behind. 

Despite the transition to mobile devices, digital data and realtime blueprints, many construction companies, vendors and suppliers are still using white boards, excel sheets and the phone to conduct most of their business.

We asked Ted Matson, Vice President of sales and marketing at Brokrete, a real-time order management system for the concrete industry, to get more insights on the industry.

Ted brings a holistic perspective, having over 30 years’ experience as a construction manager, plant manager and regional manager before migrating to a marketing and sales role.

2:00 What is the current status of the construction industry?

Some of the changes include:

  • Consolidation and transition from privately owned family businesses to larger corporate structure that has access to more funding
  • More vertical integration and ownership of the value chain where companies want to be more involved with the supply chain.

4:30 Has the industry changed with technology?

There has been a shift from public phone use, paper blueprints, and manual data entries to a more dynamic and collaborative environment in a mobile friendly environment.

Ground crew members now have more project transparency and two-way communication.

Tech-savvy companies have also seen a cultural shift and more realtime tracking, data updates, and order processing.

7:25 Why do you think the construction industry is one of the last sectors to adopt technology?

Culture: Traditional construction culture is very hands-on with great pride and respect for physical strength rather than technology and efficiency.

Early technology was not suitable: Some early technology like laptops were not suited for onsite use like new mobile devices.

Limited mobility and geographic constraints: The industry's local nature meant that companies were more interested in what is happening locally rather than adopting new technology that was created someplace else.

11:07 How could technology change the industry in terms of efficiency and productivity?

Technology brings more transparency with realtime tracking, updates, and data analytics. A foreman or site superintended has more information on their mobile device than the average office manager had on their computer a few years ago.

Instead of relying on outdated paper blueprints, the crew can now view live updates to any map revisions or project specs in realtime.

Data sensors, GPs tracking, and realtime price quotes also provide more transparency for both companies their clients

15:00 What are some of the examples of these changes?

Good examples include companies like:

CarbonCure: They are injecting CO2 from the environment into concrete to improve performance. With senor technology, they are able to monitor and improve the performance of their concrete.

Giatec: Giatec is using a Bluetooth sensor that can detect the set time of the concrete, helping them monitor in realtime the condition of the concrete and how it is setting.

Fill Connect: Fill Connect is improving collaboration between project sites by providing realtime updates on commercial dumpsite and project sites that have or need fill material.

Brokcrete: Brokcrete allows a site manager to order, cancel, change and track his concrete order onsite with a click of a button

17:55 How can established players adapt to changes in technology and turn disruptive innovations into a competitive advantage?

Industry disruption through technology can be scary to some and is not always welcome.

As more people see the value of transparency, open marketplaces, and realtime data and transactions, we can create more opportunities for better customer/client solutions.

What about you?

How are you using technology for your construction projects, or are you still lagging behind?