7 Major Takeaways from the Fifth Annual Construction Technology Report
JBKnowledge published an extensive study on the state of construction technology in 2016, the 5th Annual Construction Technology Report.
By surveying more than 50,000 construction industry professionals and accumulating more than 2,000 responses, the climate of construction progress is clear: There is a lot of catch-up and work to do, but there is also a lot of potential to establish a promising future for construction. BIM is the answer, but companies need to be willing to devote the time and resources necessary to pave the road to BIM adoption.
The construction industry is long overdue for a technological overhaul in every department, from commercial, to residential, to industrial, and more. Let’s talk about why.
IT Is Undervalued
Given the age of the industry (75% of the companies surveyed were at least 20 years old), it’s not surprising that IT is understaffed, under-budgeted, and under-utilized. Even so, the numbers are alarming.
70.8% of the companies surveyed spend less than $500,000 on IT annually, and 8.2% simply don’t know what their IT budget looks like. Only companies with a sales volume higher than $200 million had an annual IT budget of over $500,000.
IT departments are still grappling with a lack of manpower. 42.6% of the companies surveyed either outsource their IT duties, have a small and understaffed team performing them, or don’t have an IT team at all.
IT staff expansions and downsizing are not based on any real metrics, except for “gut feeling,” “the business plan,” and the notion of “that’s how it’s always been.”
Departments and Roles
IT staffs also struggle with no consolidation. The roles are dispersed, instead of sitting comfortable under one department. Many of the survey participants were in managerial or administrative roles, which do not hold significant influence in budget or staffing decisions. The highest-ranking staff member was typically a president or a CFO, who enforces low budgets to protect the profits of the company.
Instead of being viewed as a department that adds value to the company, IT is considered an expense.
New Technology Is Lacking In Implementation and Usage
The construction industry recognizes the importance of technology.
Companies that use cloud solutions for security, for example, doubled in 2016. Where the industry turns a blind eye to security is on the personal devices they supply for their employees.
These mobile devices remain insecure and vulnerable to attacks. The 2016 Mobile threat Report from McAfee indicates that mobile malware has tripled since 2014. IT needs more support and more security than it is receiving.
Security for mobile devices is more important than ever for the industry, as more companies adopt mobile technology for their employees. The development of mobile apps, however, is not up to par with what is necessary.
While mobile solutions for field data collection, project management, and accounting have increased, there is a lack of solutions for time entry.
The time entry app shortage is problematic, because without one, workers have to spend extra time with administrative duties, like manually entering hours that may or may not be accurate. As it stands, most workers perform time entry by manually entering the numbers into a spreadsheet.
In 2016, most builders have no integrated software apps, a decrease from previous years. And more and more workers are relying on manual solutions like spreadsheets and CSV files for data transfers, a result of low IT budgets and small IT staffs.
Spreadsheets need to go. These manual administrative methods leave data vulnerable to errors, and they do not provide an easy way to make changes and notifications.
Solutions for prequalifying subcontractors for projects and assessing risks continue to remain as half-measures without proper tech integration. There is too much room for human error that distorts the accuracy of these processes.
BIM Is More Important than Ever, But It’s Not Being Used to Its Full Potential
While more companies are combining IT, BIM, and VDC, employees are not being trained on how to adopt these new technologies. There is no system in place to provide training and collaboration opportunities.
As a result, employees only have a half-formed or nonexistent understanding of BIM.
The 2016 survey revealed that only 50% of companies were using BIM on more than 50% of their projects. As such, most companies still don’t understand the value and profits that BIM provides for construction.
Technology Isn’t Being Adopted Fast Enough
Most construction professionals are eager to embrace new and emerging technology. What they lack is implementation.
A small staff (or lack thereof) and a small budget were the most common hurdles to proper implementation, at 40% and 37% respectively. When the survey participants were asked what technology they wanted, most answers were:
- BIM software
- Integrated project management
- Automated time capture
- Something to help capture job site progress with photos
What these answers indicate is that builders are still greatly in need of adopting modern technology before they can dream about future technology.
Part of the problem is that many of these companies don’t have research and development (R&D) departments, and even the ones that do mostly spend less than $500,000 on IT annually. Establishing a R&D department would help these companies better understand what technologies they should be adopting and which will raise their profits.
BIM Enhances the Value of Popular Construction Technologies
Augmented reality is regularly used in construction projects to visualize and share ideas. It goes hand in hand with BIM, projecting models directly onto job sites for better visualization.
Virtual reality goes best with BIM. A VR and BIM model combination produces walkthrough project designs. More importantly, the BIM and VR pairing helps construction companies coordinate schedules, detect design clashes, and visualize the different stages of a project.
3D Printing Is a Big Deal, and It Will Only Get Bigger
3D printing is set to revolutionize the construction industry. With prefabrication as part of the package, entire projects can be assembled off-site and in the same location.
The biggest hurdle for most companies is cost. Large printers are accessible only to a small amount of large companies. Even so, 3D printing will radically alter the industry, regardless of company size.
BIM Is the Future
Despite resistance from a large number of companies, the BIM revolution cannot be ignored forever. The UK recently placed a mandate on construction projects, and once the results present themselves, companies in the US will adopt it more and more. Sooner or later, construction professionals will reach out for BIM consulting to determine just how big of a difference it can make.
Read the full 5th Annual Construction Technology Report here. (I’ll have a link)
Read the National BIM Guide for Owners Here. (I’ll have a link here, too)
Have you ever gone into something not knowing what to expect? How about saying yes to something without even knowing anything about it?
I am sure that we have all done this. How does it turn out?
IdeateApps is the newest application by IdeateSoftware, known for their innovative Revit plugins for BIM and Revit Model data. Like Ideate’s other applications–Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Explorer, and Ideate Sticky–IdeateApps is designed to make the lives of Autodesk Revit users easier, but IdeateApps focuses on productivity more than anything else. How does it help? Let’s take a look.
A question came up about the need for a self-standing Revit 2016 plotting station to generate PDFs. A firm did not want to tie up a standalone or network license when running off a batch of plots. I initially latched on the prospect of using the Autodesk’s Batch Plotting App, but realized right away its major limitations was that it was not a non-licensed self-standing product and worse did not print to PDF.
Wanting to save a view as an image for reports?
While I typically use a premium screen capture and image annotation tool on a daily basis. I’ll suggest anyone to try this tip to take higher quality image shots within Revit as a Render image. It will store the image in the Revit Project Browser, after which the image view in Revit is exported to a standalone file for creating reports.
First select a view; be it plan, section, 3D or whichever you need. Set the view as needed to optimize how it is to be presented in the report. Shading and Sun settings can be set for best presentation. In my case, using a 3D view with a section box, I want to zoom to a portion of the model to illustrate a point in my report to the project’s stakeholders. From the image below, after I have spun the oriented the view as needed, I am ready to save the view as an Image.
Do a right-click on the view name in the project browser and right-click on the name to open the context based tools. Select the Save to Project as Image.
This will then bring up a setting dialog box.
Just follow the setup as per the image above, giving consideration on how the SAVE Image to Project would need to be optimized for your report.
After the image is saved, look in the Project Browser for the saved image under the Rendering Category, be mindful custom browser organization might not display the Renders category.
Before beginning to export the freshly created view(s), save the project in order that the saved view be visible in the list of views to export. Go to the Revit Start Icon at upper left corner of the Revit session. Just be aware that there are many export options and it’s necessary to scroll down to near the bottom to find the Export as Image option.
Just note though that the Export Image dialog box does offer a way to directly export the current view as opposed to the steps we went through to create the Render views beforehand. The process I showed lets us set up several views to save to the Renders category and be exported in one step.
After exporting browse to the folder the Project is in and find the files that were created in the Export procedure.
The quality might be a little better than that of a screen grab. Try and share with your colleagues on the project teams.
I have to share this little gem.
We all know when placing a family component to the model that the spacebar option rotates the family along a 90 degree segments? Right?
Well try this option: When the non-hosted family must be rotated in respect to a previously placed line or reference plane of some unknown angle in the model. What most will do is place the family and then rotate it. A few more steps than this option presented.
Begin to place the component family and then hover the family over the angled reference (or arc), highlighting the reference (line, wall, etc). c. Click on the spacebar—the preview placements will flip between perpendicular or parallel to the reference object.