Digitization is the act of converting analog items into digital formats for the aim of broadening access and also help in storage. Digitization can also mean the management of materials that are in digital format. Most organizations are getting problems of projects that goes to over-budget and thus taking longer to complete than scheduled. Organisations and companies are struggling with communication barriers, delays and poor equipment management. This has created them to shift to technology as a more efficient means of curbing these problems. Herein, we discuss the benefits of digitization to construction management and project management.
The benefits of digitization to construction management
Higher-definition surveying and geo-location
One of the major reasons that causes construction project delays leading to over-budget is geological issues. Digitization of construction activities has made it possible to use new techniques that combines with high-definition cameras, geographical information systems and 3-dimension scanning. These digital devices are handled by drones and also unmanned aerial vehicles (Latiffi et al. 2015). This digital invention in construction management has led to increased efficiency due to increased speed and accuracy. For example, Bechtel; which is among the top most respected global engineering, construction, and project management companies are using unmanned aerial vehicles to construct extraordinary engineering projects. The good news is that these technology has become increasingly available at a cheap cost. For example, Photogrammetry is used when high-definition are needed in survey area. This technology can provide underground and above-ground 3-D images on the project sites and this is very helpful in construction locations where there should be minimal disturbance. Global Position Systems (GPS) is employed in machine site use and position control (Araszkiewicz et al. 2017). For on-site and off-site tracking of the material location, the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is used (Sattineni & Azhar, 2010). These detailed information is uploaded into a system that is designed for visualization and analysis and thereafter utilized in construction management. Construction companies that have not digitized become ineffective and inefficient in on-site and off-site tracking of material location and also unable to perform sophisticated projects. This may lead to loss due to delays and over-budgeting and thus increases their probability of losing big contracts.
Next-generation 5-D building information modelling
Another benefit of digitizing construction management is seen in the Next-Generation 5-D Building Information Modelling (BIM). This technology is helpful in coming up with a 5-dimensional structural and functional properties of a project. The Wayne Brothers Inc. is one of the construction companies that are employing this technology. The Next-generation 5-D building information modelling takes into account of the cost of the project and schedule together with 3-D spatial design features. In addition, this technology provides other project information including aesthetics, geometry, and acoustics among other more properties (Rajat et al. 2016). With this digital technology, it is easier to identify, do analysis and also put into record the effect of any change made on the project costs and/ or schedule. The insightful visual property of 5-D Building Information management provides the contractors with an opportunity of identifying risks earlier and therefore puts them in a good position of making the best decision. The 5-D BIM can be further digitized using an augmented-reality technology through devices that are wearable and tablets. In this technology, a wearable device with a holographic, see-through and sensors can chart the physical environment (Latiffi et al. 2015). Companies that doesn’t employ this technology often get losses due to their inability to identify and handle risks and taking a longer time to complete projects. Similarly, lack of these digital technology leads to poor performance and thus becomes incompetent
Digital collaboration and mobility
Construction industry experiences poor productivity due to its reliance on paper work in the management of its processes like design drawings, daily progress reports, punch lists, blue prints and supply chain order. With digitalization, the industry is deploying solutions based on field mobility and digital collaboration. Large construction firms nowadays are employing software developed for cloud-dependant, mobile-effective field supervision platforms (Rajat et al. 2016). These software integrates engineering, budgeting, physical control, and project planning and document management. A number of construction firms have digitized their work flow in project management. In the past it has been difficult to planning and on-site construction teams to connect in sharing information of the work progress in real time. However, nowadays there is cheap mobile connectivity using tablets and other portable devices. This has led to a new generation that uses cloud-effective mobile applications (Latiffi et al. 2015). Of particular importance is that this can be efficiently deployed in construction sites that are in remote areas and consequently, has changed the operations of the industry including material tracking, scheduling, dispatching, and incident reporting and productivity analysis. . These benefits are currently being experienced by a number of digitized construction companies like Balfour Beatty and Bouygues Construction that have offices in more than 80 countries.
The Internet of Things and advanced analytics
Construction sites generates a large amount of data but little amount is captures and/or measured. The Internet of Things; is a technology that is based on sensors and provides a platform where equipment are connected with one another (Youyuan Lu, Hongyan Ma and Zongjin Li, 2014). The Internet of Things on a construction site allows all equipment be connected into a central centre that captures all the information and other performance parameters. With digitization, near-field communication equipment, sensors and other similar digital device can be of help in monitoring of efficiency and productivity. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an example of a popular near-field communication (Sattineni ; Azhar, 2010). Deloitte, which is an international engineering and construction consulting company employs this technology for its logistics, manufacturing and retail environment where it precisely collects information about the products, transaction, time and place. In addition, this digital technology enables this construction company in data collection. The advanced analysis capability improves timeliness, efficiency and risk management thus improving productivity of construction activities. Predictive analytics can be used to prevent on-site breakdown of equipment.