Tool monitoring
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Construction sector: 67% will invest in more digitalization, what about you?

Written by
Sebastien De Grauwe

In a recent survey carried out by Letsbuild, 67% of respondents said they were aware that greater digitization of the industry was necessary. The real question is: what did the other 33% think?

Indeed, if one thing is certain, it's that the construction of the world after will never be the same as that of the world before. What do you mean?

First of all, let's take a look at who or what the building is used for. Whether it's for work, living or commerce, the vast majority of valuable real estate is used for human beings, and rightly so. However, the new rules on social distancing will mean that the yield per square metre of all buildings will fall sharply. Indeed, if a minimum distance of 1.5 or even 2 metres has to be maintained between human beings, it will no longer be possible to maintain the population density that was previously possible.

This will influence the utilization rate of buildings such as sports stadiums, shopping malls, stores, railway stations or transit points, restaurants or hotels, but also office buildings and any other place used by humans for a specific purpose and a specific period of time.

Furthermore, as we need to avoid not only the short-distance (interpersonal) spread of the virus, but also its rate of movement in space (propagation), telecommuting, which has been used by all workers who can, is of course here to stay. This means that the use of office space will also be reduced, and from a general point of view, the associated built-up area will decrease in volume.

Lower yields and lower utilization of non-private housing stock will mean that the construction sector of the future will never be the same as it was before.

How can we compensate for the lack of digitalization in the construction industry?

It's clear that, riding a wave of cheap bank credit and sluggish growth, the construction sector hasn't changed much in recent years. Of course, construction techniques themselves have greatly evolved, but the part of the work that was done by humans 50 years ago is still very similar to what is done today.

Indeed, if we compare this with the automotive sector, it has become so automated that a current car built using the methods of 50 years ago would cost around 5 times what it does today. When it comes to automation, let's face it, construction is a relatively untouched sector. Moreover, the need to limit physical contact between workers will no doubt eventually see the emergence of construction robots, or at any rate a sharp increase in off-site assembly (" prefabrication ").

With yields falling, banks are becoming increasingly fussy about financing even the smallest project. In fact, they are already heavily involved in spending thousands of billions to stimulate the economy and the service industry, so one wonders what will be left to finance low-yield real estate projects.

The only way to respond to this trend is for the construction sector to digitize quickly and completely. And it's not as difficult as you might think - other industries have done it before, like telecoms or logistics, and all the technologies are available to do it.

As the sector is a major employer, it's only natural that all workers should use the right tools to get the job done. Many of these tools, whether for screwing, welding, drilling, etc., have been highly modernized in recent years, and have become relatively high-performance for a modest price.

So much so, in fact, that companies have not hesitated to invest in their machine fleets, surfing on the wave of construction projects thanks to cheap credit, enabling them to maintain or even increase the output of each hour worked.

If a tool broke down, often just the logistics of repairing it cost more than simply going out and buying a new one. The opportunity cost was far greater than the value of the tool itself.

But in today's world, it's not only important to know where your tools are, but also to be sure that they can be used safely.

Do you think a telecommunications company worth its salt would agree to "not know" where its network is? Or that a logistics company like UPS or DHL couldn't tell its customers where their packages are? Of course not! And you, do you know where the tools are that enable your workforce to transform a qualified and motivated workforce into a successful worksite?

How can HeronTrack help digitize the construction industry with its small equipment management tool?

If you're still wondering, it might be a good idea for us to show you how 21st century technology will help your business get through this crisis and continue to grow in tomorrow's world.
We offer tool tracking software via an IoT sensor and mobile and web applications to better manage your fleet of small equipment for inventory and inspections, but also to protect it against theft.