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How to leverage the cloud in construction to increase collaboration and productivity

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Call it the perfect storm. The construction industry faces a barrage of challenges, not the least of which is lagging productivity. And to add another layer of complexity, companies are called to do more with less money and in less time.

It’s not all bad news. As detailed in this article, builders can overcome these productivity challenges and thrive. Simply put, cloud technology and construction work well together.

A survey of the construction industry landscape

The construction industry faces a series of challenges. While productivity in the global sector has increased by an anemic annual rate of 1% for the past two decades, the U.S. construction segment faces a serious talent shortage.

In a 2019 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, 70% of industry professionals surveyed struggled to meet deadlines as a result of the shortage. Meanwhile, 40% had to refuse new projects.

These factors foreshadow larger-scale pressures, including infrastructure that has to meet the demands of a growing world population — sustainably and without cost overruns.

Fortunately, we find that the industry is moving toward digitization as a way of improving efficiency. To truly increase productivity and overcome the challenges that lie ahead, however, builders will have to integrate cloud technology and construction. Here’s why.

Cloud technology and construction means better, faster collaboration

Designers. Architects. Construction project managers. Fabricators. MEP engineers. Government officials. Customers. Each construction project involves a variety of stakeholders.

While these professionals might each work with computer programs (over pen and paper), interdepartmental transfer of information is still disjointed and riddled with inefficiencies. Because departments are siloed and work independently, they don’t see the larger picture and as a result, details are lost in translation.

With cloud technology, everyone is on the same page, working with the same model. As the design team, construction project managers, and other stakeholders collaborate better, design can spot the repercussions of changes in their project, on the build, and vice versa.

With the cloud, construction teams detect potential clashes early on. Teams overcome these proactively before they balloon into bigger problems that need more expensive fixes.

Additionally, construction teams can collaborate in real time with professionals scattered around the world by leveraging cloud technology. They can dial in expertise as needed and everyone can work from the same models.

Faster, all-hands-on collaboration leads to compressed time cycles, quicker approvals, and improved ability to meet deadlines.

The cloud decreases chances of errors

Because all stakeholders are working with one central source of truth and the construction project information is updated in real time, there are fewer chances for errors. For construction companies involving professionals around the world, this can prove to be a vital, time-saving asset.

The cloud facilitates more advanced technologies

As the construction industry moves toward digital maturity within the cloud, the adoption of more advanced technology is on the cusp. This includes drone image capture of field projects and measuring worker hours using geofences and RFID-equipped hats. These technologies need a lot of computing power, which the cloud delivers.

The cloud delivers faster client approval, with virtual reality models for clients to “walk through” before the build even begins. This means no more need for physical scaled models, most of the sign-off process can be hosted on the cloud.

Construction teams that embrace the cloud see improved turnaround times on projects, which enables them to do more with tighter budgets while meeting deadlines consistently.

The industry’s reputation might currently stand as a slow mover when it comes to digitization but change is on the horizon as it embraces technology. With daunting challenges looming in the years ahead, construction companies can count on the cloud to deliver.

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