Technology the Key to Economic Recovery in the Construction Sector

By Jennifer Axley

Like almost every other business sector, construction has been dealt a heavy blow by the unprecedented events of the past 18 months or so. Data from Research and Markets shows a drop of five percent in market size from $11.2 trillion in 2019 to $10.7 trillion in 2020. Yet they say that necessity is the mother of invention, and lockdown forced the industry’s decision makers to find new ways of doing things. Software solutions are key to revolutionizing the industry and adapting to the new normal, and those who are fastest to adapt will hold the aces in the years ahead.

The right tools

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As recently as a couple of years ago, your average structural engineer would arrive on site with a laptop, sheets of paper and a drawing board. Today, he or she will still have the laptop, but also a phone and tablet to gather data digitally and share it instantly with the client and other stakeholders.

It’s not just about hardware, either. Bespoke software is no longer something that’s only used by the CAD specialists. Specialists in every area of construction are now working in tandem with software designers right from the project scope stage to come up with software solutions designed with that specific construction project in mind.

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Better communication

We said at the outset that “almost every business” has felt the pinch in recent months. There are a handful of exceptions, such as communication providers like Zoom. It’s proved handy for ensuring the kids are still able to keep in touch with their grandparents every week, but it has also been essential in maintaining some sort of momentum with ongoing construction projects.

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The truth is, in every project there are always periods of waiting. Now that tools like Zoom have become commonplace, their continued use can reduce costs and speed up projects by slashing bureaucracy and increasing efficiency.

A case in point

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Sean Keyes is Managing Director at Sutcliffe’s, a UK-based structural engineering firm. With its 35-year history and its traditional values, it might not look like the sort of business that would be an early mover in embracing technological change. But looks can be deceptive. While other businesses in the sector have been struggling to reestablish some sort of momentum, Sutcliffe’s saw a five percent increase in profit from September 2020 to March 2021 compared with the same period of the previous year.

Keyes says the biggest factor in the company’s success is “the way that technology continues to evolve and grow.” He notes that new approaches adopted during the pandemic have provided a roadmap that will be instrumental in delivering continued growth in the years ahead and remarked: “I am intrigued to see just how far we can take things in the years to come.”

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