When an overwhelming event hit the world in 2020, everyone was greatly impacted. Because of this, people had to adapt quickly. In particular, the construction industry took a significant blow as working in close proximity is in its nature. Most contractors opted not to temporarily shut down construction work and construction training but did face massive delays and disruptions. This is why project management for construction has to work on measures to ensure that work proceeds smoothly and prioritize worker safety and health.
The Need For Remote Technology In Construction
Remote working has become the norm for working people. With safety distancing and productivity as the main concerns, remote technology is just what construction management needs.
Even though remote working is not possible for onsite workers, it will significantly reduce the number of people on site. Even without distancing as a concern, remote technology can enhance efficiency on project sites. Traditionally, project managers would go from site to site to physically check on progress and resolve issues. Although effective, this arrangement was not efficient. In fact, it was time-consuming and laborious.
But with the rise of remote technology, they can now collaborate in real-time with their crew even if they are not onsite. Teams would not have to wait for the manager to arrive to get the green light on tasks and managers can virtually send papers, instructions, and tasks. Without the downtime, work proceeds without a hitch, avoiding delays and misunderstandings.
Now more than ever, when the industry is becoming even more dynamic, remote technology is needed. Recently, projects have increased in complexity and size, as well as the responsibilities of a project manager. They have to delegate tasks and manage schedules, both personnel and the project. Because of this need to stay on top of things, digital and mobile project management tools have been on the rise. The instantaneous communication help project managers and crew members connect to ensure that the project is successfully complete.
More than that, health and safety is on everyone’s mind. We can eliminate the need for people to be in the same space to communicate through remote technology. Although there would have to be a limited number of workers on site, project managers will supervise and connect with them.
4 Remote Technologies For Construction
Up until recently, construction has been late in adapting to modern technology. Even though it has some catching up to do, it has welcomed many technological developments, particularly in the field of remote technology.
The construction industry has quickly adapted to drones because they have a lot to bring to the table. Drones can take high-resolution aerial images of the project site. With these images, users can spot an issue and can start planning how to fix it. Workers and inspectors don’t have to physically walk around the site to improve onsite safety. Plus, work is done efficiently and accurately.
Robots take much of the load off of automated tasks. With the limited number of crew members onsite, construction robots can take over many repetitive tasks, such as painting, bricklaying, loading, and unloading. Because the processes are automated, tasks will be done efficiently. All humans need to do is program the machine and let the robot work.
In addition to increasing onsite productivity, robots also protect workers from dangerous environments and tasks. The construction industry, in general, is filled with hazards. But with robotics, those can be reduced. For example, these machines can take over mundane, repetitive tasks that cause overexertion and exhaustion in workers. They can also take over specific functions on hazardous work sites. Tybot, for instance, is designed to tie rebar in the construction of bridges. Traditionally, workers who did this were suspended in the air.
Lastly, robotics can address the labor shortage, an ongoing problem in the construction industry. While they are unlikely to replace human labor in the industry fully, they certainly help with the situation. With the workforce’s lack of laborers, robots promote remote construction, making it safer, more efficient, and better overall.
To learn more about robotics and its impact on construction, read our article “Types Of Robots Helping The Construction Industry.”
3. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR)
Similar to drones, AR and VR are not new to the world. Several other industries have been using this technology for years, primarily gaming, media, and entertainment. But recently, AR and VR have become vital for construction, particularly in planning, designing, and inspecting. These revolutionary tools also make site visits and inspections easier and safer.
Using BIM and advanced 3D modeling software, designing and planning are innovated. Designers can virtually walk through an unfinished structure, where they can spot issues and needed improvements and visualize how any alterations can be done with minimal to no delays and without inciting other problems.
Moreover, augmented and virtual reality lets executives train workers remotely and safely. Due to the need for distancing, it will be challenging for both workers and managers to hold training and seminars. Be that as it may, these informative and educational sessions are required for workers to properly understand how to operate machines and overall worksite regulations. The answer to this dilemma is in augmented reality, specifically. With AR, users can experience first-hand the digital world put in reality without the dangers of the real world. They can be trained to work and operate machines in a safe environment. Plus, this tool lets managers directly give instructions to workers even if they are not together onsite.
4. 3D Printing
3D printers are also being used in multiple industries. Some even have one in their homes for personal use. But construction has been using it on a larger scale.
3D printing technologies offer plenty of construction benefits, especially to remote construction. Prefabrication from 3D printing significantly cuts down construction time and requires minimal human interaction. There have even been instances where whole neighborhoods and a 2-story building have been printed from the ground up.
Management Tips For Remotely Managing Construction Projects
1. Use the cloud to manage and track employee hours.
Before the cloud, punch cards and timesheets were the norms. A significant part of the construction industry still uses them because it has been the practice for so long. Unfortunately, these physical time trackers are inflexible, impractical, time-consuming, and prone to human errors.
But by digital time tracking in the cloud, project managers remove inconsistencies that come with manual time tracking, like buddy punching and time theft. Cloud-based tools are more accurate and allow real-time monitoring with little to no assistance. Now that HR and managers have more free time, they can allocate that time to do other productive tasks.
With several time-tracking tools out there, it’s tough to choose the best one. The key features you want include:
Stores information on the cloud, which allows remotely tracking employee hours and eliminates the hassle of using paper.
3. Project tracking
Project managers can assign crew members tasks and break down time logs based on those tasks.
4. Real-time tracking
Project managers can easily track who is and isn’t onsite during work hours and monitor time logs in progress.
Allows for easier management as data can be pushed from one application to another.
6. Detailed reporting
Create detailed and accurate reports on client, employee, and project time logs.
7. Communicate daily
Communication is a vital part of any construction project. Many site issues and delays are rooted in miscommunication. One crucial aspect of remote working project managers should know about is how often they communicate with their team.
The frequency of communication depends on the management style and needs of the project. However, with a remote setup, checking in daily would be a good call so you can be aware of what each member is working on and their progress.
In addition to that, frequent communication between manager and employee helps in creating a better relationship. Aside from talking about work-related things, have a casual conversation. This builds rapport and improves team dynamics.
Because physically having watercooler conversations at the office is difficult now, project managers must proactively look for ways and create opportunities to build genuine relationships.
8. Use a standard communication platform.
As previously mentioned, communication plays a vital role in construction projects. But that can be hard to do when team members are scattered around different locations. The lack of a well-defined communication system will lead members to contact each other through various channels, causing disjointed communication and inefficiencies.
To avoid communication problems, the best thing to do is establish what communication platform to use. Luckily, there is a myriad of options to choose from. Some are even designed for construction teams.
Construction managers need a variety of applications to handle different aspects of the project. They include:
9. Project management software
This software is used to delegate tasks and ensure members are on the same page.
10. Scheduling software
This software allows managers and contractors to manage shifts and assign crew members to jobs.
11. Communication and conferencing software
Primarily for communication, this software lets managers connect to employees in real-time, check progress, inform them of the latest developments, and straighten out issues.