How technology enables scale in construction
By Jayesh Rajpurohit, CEO & Co-Founder, Brick&Bolt
Continuous changes in the interconnected forces like demographics, purchasing power, urbanisation, technology and consumer behaviour are paving the way for unprecedented transformations across all sectors. Though disruption is the norm across prominent sectors, the pace of adoption in the real estate and construction sector has been relatively slow considering affinity towards traditional modes of business. The urgency and severity of the pandemic condensed technology adoption that likely would have taken three years at a normal pace into a single year.
With changing consumer lifestyle, rapid urbanisation and socio-economic development, the end user expectations and experience requirements in the housing & construction sector are also evolving rapidly. Earlier real estate transactions relied heavily on in-person interactions and the need for human interface between different stakeholders couldn't be fully eliminated. With widespread adoption of technology across the entire construction value chain, a disintermediation trend has emerged offering consumers greater access, visibility, options and choice at their fingertips.
The landscape of construction has changed with the emergence of construction tech, popularly referred as ConTech. ConTech initiatives have ushered a digital landscape using streamlined processes, innovative materials and scalable technology. New age tech has helped in automation of the entire construction life cycle thereby mapping all variables ranging from pre-project BOQ, estimation, design, contractor-client alignment, quality control and start-to -finish project management.
In the pre-project/ start phase, one of the major aspects that can go afoul in a project is cost estimation. Issues in budgets, supply, equipment and delay all directly result in cost overruns. AI has simplified quantity take-offs/cost estimation by reading 2D plans and understanding various components using computer vision. Another way construction has leveraged technological solutions is by automating the process of construction design. Earlier designing a project model would take weeks and customer approval would only delay the process further. Today, deep tech is at a stage where it understands floor plan semantics. This is primarily used to increase architect’s efficiency where the system can now suggest floor plans closer to the one they will be working on. Design management, visualizing drawings, 3D models are now easily done on mobile platforms. Technology also leverages various marketplaces in qualifying, evaluating, and selecting the apt construction partner for the project. This is done by analyzing data that comes from construction partners' past experience, local building departments, and several other major sources. This provides stakeholders with extremely reliable and relevant hiring recommendations.
During construction, scheduling can really be termed as the foundation of the project. The construction industry suffers from ‘what you see is not what you get’ which results as a byproduct of manual rescheduling. Today, the schedule is end-to-end prepared using AI and incorporates all variables like site inspection details, floorplans, structural drawing etc. The image recognition system monitors every detail of an ongoing construction project and flags up delays or errors automatically. This brings predictability into the construction making sure that there is complete site verification and tech based quality control. In the construction stages of a building, the behaviour of each element has a high degree of dispersion and mobility. The emergence of technology has definitely enabled a faster design process, visualisation, simulation, and intricate planning for better and fast productivity.
ConTech adoption in India has just begun its journey and is in a fairly nascent stage. The rising demand for real estate owing to rapid urbanisation, growing demand for real estate across asset classes and government initiatives such as ‘smart cities’ and affordable housing will propel ConTech adoption. The existent technology gap and the growing need for digitised solutions has presented an opportunity for companies to ride on the tech wave. Startups are working independently and with developers to provide on-time quality delivery and abate quality control issues. The companies that create the most value will be ones that can optimise present opportunities, innovate for the future and capitalize on industry trends.