Industries today are moving fast to embrace technological
innovations in an effort to capture a competitive advantage. As technological advances are made, industries
are striving to adopt and adapt to this constantly changing system. In the
construction industry, economic value of technology integration is evidenced by
project cost savings, delay reduction, and change reduction. Challenges to integrating new technology into
the construction industry include rising costs and increased skill shortages.
A successful construction project is accomplished by meeting goals
that meet and exceed constraints on scope, time, and cost. A project is a
temporary endeavor with a finite time to act on an opportunity, solve a
problem, create a service, or develop a new product. Limiting the scope of a project, staying
within budget, and avoiding delays are challenges for project managers. The process for construction project
management includes initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing
work. Moving through the project
management process requires specific knowledge and skills to accomplish tasks
Change management is a key process which begins in the planning
stage then implemented and managed though the life of the project. Construction changes that reoccur cause
schedule delays and increase costs. The professional
construction manager (CM) has the ability to maintain and improve overall
performance despite the challenges of schedule overruns and high cost that are
pandemic in construction (Ayers, 2017). To
increase the likelihood that a construction project is delivered on time and on
budget, many CMs are embracing and integrating new technology for design and
construction. Change management in the
construction industry is a key process for integration.
Brochner and Badenfelt’s (2011) analysis compared changes and
change management in industries of construction and information
technology. Their research based on
surveys completed by customers, providers, and stakeholders supports the theory
that change is contractual by nature.
and making contractual changes affects project delivery being on time and on
budget. Contractual incentives also
increase project cost and the time to complete the project. Clear communication of requirements and goals
in the project initiating stage help manage change (Brochner & Badenfelt,
Construction projects make up four percent of the US gross
domestic product (Tatari & Kucukvar, 2012).
In 2016 building waste from resource mismanagement in US construction
industry totaled over $160 billion (Dillow, 2016). The combined construction industry
expenditures for this period exceeded one trillion dollars. Improvement of the current construction project
business model presents many challenges.
One challenge is that the construction industry lacks methodologies on
time, cost, and scope factors similar to other industries such as
manufacturing. Also, there are many inter-related tasks specific to the
construction industry with different and variable standards.
According to leading authors, only a small percentage of
construction and engineering firms are on the forefront of technology and more
than 90 percent of firms lag behind (Jones, 2017). Reduction of cost and schedule overruns is a
common challenge for the construction manager. However, the construction
industry is slow to integrate technology despite the success shown in other
Technology integration using digital and mobile communication
devices in construction projects has increased to over 29 percent (Jones,
2017). Integration of these technologies
in construction projects are making positive impacts increasing efficiency and
productivity. Construction projects
operate on a schedule with an extremely narrow timeline for completion. During the execution phase of the
construction project the construction manager and the vendors exchange
information during the operation. Daily
operational information includes purchasing and ordering equipment, materials,
payroll, budgets, daily report, pictures, and other business documents which
are transmitted by digital and mobile technology. This is an example of how integration of
technology has improved communication efficiency.
example of the change technology is making in construction management is the
ability to share large design files with construction team and stakeholders in
the moment. Digital technology provides stakeholders remote access to view
projects and provides visual collaboration with the project manager. If field
issues are identified, the project manager is provided a visional
representation so risk can be assessed.
Real time project status of the construction project enhances ability to
provide transparency, quality control, risk assessments, and achieve a
successful working project management structure. The combination of share point sites provides
a centralized location for retrieving real time project status information
technology provides the project manager with the ability to coordinate efforts
among all stakeholders. For example,
using mobile technology to transmit construction project on site photos to team
members provides an instantaneous view of any risks and opportunity to develop
solutions. Conference calls and video
conferences are additional technology tools that provide ability to communicate
often with team members during the project.
Governmental regulations and local safety standards restrict mobile
technology use in the construction job site to protect workers. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is
the regulatory governmental agency that ensures compliance that there are no
cell zones and restricted when operating machinery.
success of technology integration into the construction industry for the future
is promising. A new technology sweeping
the construction industry is building information modeling (BIM). BIM software is a digital representation of
physical and functional characteristics of a facility giving an optimal view
for clients. BIM facilitates communication between construction manager and
team by rendering a visual image of the building. During the life cycle of the
project the BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a
BIM software assists in the plan, design,
construction, operation, and maintenance of diverse physical infrastructures
such as water, utilities, sewage, etc.
Engineering can use this model to estimate energy cost and optimal
building orientation, assisting clients to make better decisions. Construction
managers use this tool to reduce risk of project delays and cost overruns.
risk to stakeholders and eliminating additional schedule delays is best
practice for project managers especially in government construction. The 3D laser application is a new tool that
provides field verification of a structure providing the construction manager
with true data. Recently, application of
this tool by the project manager at a federal facility allowed a large
subterranean structure to be examined safely to determine condition of the
structure. Vital information provided to
the stakeholder gave an existing picture of condition and provided data
essential to determining the method of repair. The data identified structural
repairs needed and eliminated project delays.
recurring costs are the predictions of energy costs for a conceptualized
building. Stakeholders and end users of
the new building under construction need information to plan for future
recurring costs (Jones, 2017). Building
performance software tools such as Autodesk and Sefaira provide the project
manager with the ability to perform energy analysis during the conceptual phase
in a preliminary design stage. The
analysis software tool integrates real time data including weather information
along with predictable solar heat gains and airflow movements. A final outcome gives a realistic expectation
of the measurable energy usage predictions for the new construction.
building in on the rise with the advancement of technology tools like BIM. Prefabrication in construction saves time and
reduces cost. Using this application
minimizes errors, reduces risks of schedule delays, saves costs, and eliminates
waste. Construction managers using the
BIM data to fabricate construction items such as fabricated steel frame drywall
panels or other prefabricated walls note that the items are delivered one time
and the erection is accomplished with fewer laborers, thus saving time and cost.
three dimensional printer provides a project manager with a visual design to
display to stakeholders and owners for buy in.
Changes to the project are made to meet needs of the team before the
construction begins and there is an opportunity to visualize and make changes
to the project before it begins.
technology is another tool employed by the project manager to view and monitor
the construction site status. The
technology provides an additional method of transparent communication with stakeholders.
Drone technology eliminates use of manned aircraft and provides quicker surveys
collecting frequent data to help track a site’s progress.
companies in an effort to practice efficient use of resources and minimize
potential issues employ 3D structural models in an effort to trim project costs
and limit project delays (Dillow, 2016).
Data from these models include topographical maps and volumetric
measurements that are used in tracking stockpiles of natural resources such as
sand and gravel. Tracking and controlling these resources eliminates building
material waste reducing construction expenditures.
industry projects are complex with milestones that must be reached to complete
the contract on time and within the designated budget. New technology software and methods are being
implemented in the construction industry to reduce changes that are
costly. One new software tool commonly
used in information technology projects is the agile method. Agile as a project management tool allows
changes to be made during the project without affecting cost and schedule
overruns. The construction management
business model is one that has a sequential of project phases that have a
finite timeline with any changes made in late-life cycle incurring financial
costs and risks. The sequential phases
of project management include planning, designing, and creating a work
plan. Communication with project manager
and stakeholders is crucial during each phase to receive input and have collaboration
with all team members. Change in the construction project has a domino effect
that can spread to the many facets of the project team resulting in
miscommunication and delay in project completion. Construction project team members such as the
project manager, contractors, sub-contractors, and many other stakeholders are
affected by changes that occur in the project.
Stracusser (2015) presents an argument through several case
studies that supports the use of agile tools and techniques in construction. One
case study illustrates the challenges of a construction project with a highly
regulated environmental concern from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). A
prescribed schedule of completion for this project included many negative
consequences for missed milestones and failing to complete the project on
schedule and within the allotted budget. Another challenge included
coordination of many complex activities in preparation for increasing the
nuclear plant operations. These activities included removing existing
equipment, repairing infrastructures, and completing new construction.
The project manager implemented agile technology using a Primavera
scheduling software and an earned value management system that provided monthly
reporting and control of the project’s status.
The agile methodologies replaced the usual sequential phases customarily
introduced by the construction business model.
Integrated team members jointly tested systems and worked together
ensuring the successful operation of the system before proceeding to the next
stage. Delivery of the project proceeded
with an entire functioning system fostering communication and maintaining high
levels of team morale. The integrated
team approach using the agile mindset achieved a construction project that met
all the project milestones and one that achieved safety, budget and schedule
New developments in agile technology in the manufacturing industry
based on the six sigma quality method is another application that may provide
value in future project management in the construction industry (Stracusser,
2015). Principles of agile methods once
implemented will connect performance improvement to improved outcomes and
increased value that eliminates waste and identifies potential risks.
Adoption of technology in the construction industry requires
project managers who can successfully merge future technology into daily operations. With the rapid changes in technology project
manager must be skilled and understand the challenges and rewards of embracing
new technology. Construction industry
slow to adopt technology into the daily operations are realizing the economic
benefits that result from integration of technology into construction
Mobile and digital technology is a necessary tool for
professionals in many different industries.
The construction industry using the BIM as a tool to help increase the
efficiency of project scope, time and schedule.
Drones and artificial intelligence provide real time data measurement and
visual data critical to project status. Agile methodology and tools used in the
manufacturing and information technology have promise for application in
Future research on the impact of new technology on the
construction industry is needed to identify methods that reduce risks of
projects and improve quality outcomes for stakeholders. Also, construction industries of the future
must embrace new technology to remain competitive in the market. Standards to explore for future technology
integration need to address how time, cost and quality affect the overall
construction project. In addition,
future research must include how to produce sustainable results, providing
greater life cycles for completed projects.