Contractors Hunger for Emerging Tech: Drones and Tracking Are Hot

RhumbixFebruary 12, 2018 • 3 min read

Companies in AEC continue to try new technologies, including cutting-edge tools such as time tracking, according to JBKnowledge’s 2017 Construction Technology Report.

Tracking tools and drones are among the most interesting emerging technologies to many industry firms. But some still have concerns regarding the effects of adoption of tech tools.

It could be that widespread adoption of some architecture engineering and construction tech will require a more concerted communications effort on the part of tech companies. AEC bosses also may need to better educate workers on the ease of adoption of such tools, and of the great advantages gained from adopting them.

A significant majority of respondents to the survey said they were considering using worksite tracking; 57 percent said they were interested in doing so. Worries about worker backlash against tracking is stopping some firms from adopting it.

“Despite the assumed privacy concerns, the true barriers preventing companies from implementing employee tracking were reported as: lack of need for tracking, lack of benefits from employee tracking, and the cost of tracking,” according to the report.

Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly said they were trying new technology, but a sizable minority—39 percent of respondents—said their company is not experimenting with new technology. Still, that percentage has decreased by 20 percent over the past year, according to the report.

Slowly, industry professionals are warming to using project management tools and other AEC tech.  Since it began in 2012, JBKnowledge’s report has shown steady improvement in adoption rates of such tools. Some tools, like Building Information Modeling (BIM), still are avoided by some firms, despite the potential loss of business.

Drones are the most sought-after emerging technology, at least among AEC companies reporting to the survey; 37.8 percent of respondents said they are interested in using drones. Wearable devices and jobsite sensors are being used by 8.5 percent and 7.1 percent of respondents, respectively. Survey respondents included 2,690 AEC professionals.

While onsite tools such as time tracking are delivering big savings for many companies, some offsite work is getting more attention, such as prefabrication.

The interest in prefabrication technology has dramatically increased from last year’s report, growing by 12 percent. This year, 19.9 percent of respondents said they were using prefab tech. Prefab is cited by some industry watchers as being a future boon to the industry, through savings it can bring to builders. These findings reflect a growing trend with some firms in offsite prefabrication of structural parts. Firms including industry veterans like bridge and port builder American Bridge Company, have been prefabricating structural elements for jobs for many years.

All these technologies have been disrupting established workflows and fostering innovation by creating efficiencies and savings in time, money and man hours. Their increasing popularity bodes well for companies that are embracing such time-saving tools, many of which digitize labor-intensive tasks and create a more error-free process. Those who don’t adopt such tech are bound to fall behind in the competition for new projects.

Rhumbix’s labor productivity and analytic capabilities enable foremen and supervisors to maximize onsite productivity. It’s about productivity–increasing it and gauging the change, then measuring the resulting savings with Rhumbix.