The construction sector, historically marked by very low labour productivity, is finally entering a scenario in which it will enjoy a greater connection and sharing of information, aimed at knowledge, performance and control. All these technologies will give companies (especially those of medium and large size) and those working in the construction industry greater visibility on processes and the opportunity to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their work.
Let’s see together what the main incoming trends consist of.
As a construction company begins its growth process, one of the first obstacles it encounters is the difficulty for the entrepreneur to constantly follow different construction sites in person. For micro-enterprises, however, this is not a problem, and indeed most likely is one of the many factors underlying the chronic dwarfism of the sector, not only in Italy but also abroad.
As the first form of the technological evolution of construction machinery takes hold, the continuous connection, directly linked to the themes of the 4.0 industry, this scenario could change. Entrepreneurs, both for the machines they own and even more for those they hire, will be able to monitor work tools and the progress of the site continuously and remotely, monitoring parameters such as:
- the location of the machines via GPS;
- their “state of health”;
- performance over the period of use;
- the levels of use of fuel and consumables.
- Performance measurement
The machine management systems can directly inform not only the user but also the rental company and the network of service centres called upon to intervene in case of need. The intervention times, both of the hirer and of the dealer in charge of managing the maintenance of the machines, are destined to be drastically reduced, in a scenario in which maintenance is no longer “reactive” (i.e. it intervenes when a fault or a downtime occurs), but “proactive” (i.e. it intervenes when the systems signal the need for maintenance that prevents possible damage or restores performance to the desired levels).
The continuous connection allows entrepreneurs to optimize their activities. Connecting performance is the next step, enabling them to improve performance by making it easier to estimate the work to be done and assess business efficiency.
The future of technology for the connected construction site
The connection of performance measures how much the machines work, for example by allowing hirers to be paid for on consumption, rather than on the basis of traditional rates. This allows client companies to better estimate the cost of their operations (not to mention the ability to actually pay for the machines for their actual use).
Connecting performance also makes it possible to make machines work smarter and safer. Thanks to new generations of sensors, machines will be able to signal elements or obstacles that are not visible to those driving them, projecting the necessary information onto the screen.
The connection of control activities
The third line of evolution of technology, the connection of control activities, will finally allow to better organize the activities of the site, delegating those non-strategic or unspecialized to external professionals, or in some cases also using self-guided machinery, which will free companies from the obligation to have staff for the heaviest tasks, repetitive or dangerous. Not to mention that self-guided machines, not involving people on board, can be designed and built by manufacturers eliminating a number of constraints present in traditional ones.
In the central parts of the company’s work, where the experience and competence of the workers is and remains fundamental, the machines will automatically provide the necessary information to those who use them, allowing for finer control and reducing the risk of errors due to unforeseen situations.
By connecting machines and having many new sensors available, construction companies will be able to transform the way they work in the near future. Operations that until now have been subject to estimates and evaluations will become more accurate and measurable. The specialization will increase, and the most successful companies will be those able to orchestrate the various phases of the work to create a coordinated and unified project.
The connection has as its object the information: if companies have more information (on the machines, on the operators responsible for using them, on the work to be done, on the site) they can do more and better, improving their levels of efficiency and above all profitability.
And the hirers who know how to fit into this context as suppliers of advanced technology will be able to further strengthen their role as essential partners for the success of SMEs in this sector.