What are civil engineering projects trending now

Digitization of the construction industry: an overview of all trends and developments

For some it is a trend and for others it is the solution for productive management: the digitization of the construction industry is a much discussed topic. If you take a look behind the facade, you will see a whole range of possibilities that the digital world also has in store for the construction industry. In this article, you can find out where the added value can be for companies and where there is still a problem with most companies in using this for themselves.

Capmo tip: Digitization also has numerous advantages for your company. Do not hesitate any longer and take off. In our eBook we accompany you in the process in 5 steps.

Digitization of the construction industry: data and facts in a nutshell

What exactly does digitization mean in the construction industry? Where is the current construction industry and why is it so difficult to develop? We get to the bottom of the facts.

What exactly does digitization mean?

When people talk about digitization, it is about more now than it was a few years ago. The term is changing and taking on an increasingly complex meaning. So digitization is initially the transfer of analog content to digital data. Furthermore, it is a matter of using digital models as an aid and replacing unproductive analog or outdated mechanical procedures. Software applications are being developed through which communication and entire processes can be optimized on a digital level. In addition, the data and all process steps are networked to form an overall system. In principle, however, it can also be about changing entire business models based on digital concepts. The digitization of the construction industry mainly refers to the processes that are in the focus of current developments.

Why is digitization necessary?

Digital innovations have already revolutionized work in various industries. This progress is increasingly showing where there is currently a need for action in the construction industry. We take you into different business areas and show you where the shoe pinches at most companies.

Communication with potential customers and business partners

How often do you use the internet to get information? Whether for business or pleasure - answers to many questions can be found quickly on the World Wide Web. In more and more areas of life and also in the construction industry, it is essential for companies to establish a good online presence. The page flipping business directory has had its day. Results from search engines, the exchange of opinions in social networks, forums or valuable content on websites are today's sources of information for your potential customers. You can make the first points of contact positive with a good website. You skillfully build trust and can win new customers more effectively. Construction companies who do not renew their digital communication become downright invisible to potential customers and business partners.

Attract young and competent staff

Be visible and attractive - not only for potential customers, but also for your potential employees. New jobs are searched online. And before the application and the job interviews, the candidates find out about their potential new employer on company websites and evaluation portals. The website is also essential for you to address, convince and win over future employees. The shortage of skilled workers in particular increases competition among companies. Anyone who is not digitally present no longer plays an active role in the labor market and thus misses some opportunities.

Optimize processes and keep track of things

The Internet is becoming an indispensable tool for all activities in order to cope with them and to make them more pleasant. A lot of manual work can be automated and the time saved can be used for value-adding activities. Not being aware of this now leads to an unnecessary waste of valuable resources. Digitization in the construction industry therefore means taking a close look at individual business processes and checking where necessary steps can be carried out more easily or automatically. You will find a lot of potential in mere administration: appointments, time recording, invoicing. Many processes can now be streamlined with computers, tablets, smartphones and the right software.

The end of the flagpole was far from being reached: the first step is to rethink and implement individual processes separately from one another. You go further in digitization when you combine and optimize all individual processes in an effectively networked overall system. Then Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Construction 4.0 come into play. We'll take a closer look at what's behind it in a moment.

Use technological progress and use it sensibly

Support on the construction site through technical aids has become indispensable. Technological progress is less characterized by improved mechanical performance than by new digital solutions. With smartphones and tablets you are mobile, flexible and can do valuable work much faster on the go and on the construction site. Other innovations such as driver assistance systems for easier operation of machines, drones for measuring rough terrain are just some of the conveniences that digitalization has in store.

Offering new services and expanding business models

Will you inspire the market tomorrow with the same offer from yesterday? What was still possible years ago will work less and less in the future. A company exists today when it is changeable and can also reinvent itself. Questioning and expanding business models has become an essential task of managing directors. Where digitization is on the one hand the driver and forces you to rethink, you can use it to find direct solutions for the future on the other. One thing is certain: Planning and craft services will continue to be an essential core business for companies in the construction industry.

But the design is increasingly accompanied digitally, which you can just as easily integrate into your business model. Because you are not the only user of all the digital apps and devices - your customers and business partners too. Tools for configuration and, for example, virtual reality can be used for clear planning. Better support can be achieved through digital communication tools. Or you offer digital products such as Smart Home and, in addition to the physical installation, also take on all possible services from the necessary settings to training future users.

Capmo tip: Many factors speak in favor of digitizing your processes. Now all you have to do is get started! We support you and have summarized the 5 steps for your digital success in construction in our eBook. Take a look!

The potential of the digital realignment

The advantages of digitization have been able to unfold long enough. Transferred to the construction industry, a wide range of potentials can be derived that are just waiting to be grasped by you.

Improved communication among those involved in the project

Messages on notes on the desk or by fax, an e-mail in the already overflowing mailbox, the construction plan in Excel has disappeared in some folder. Communication is therefore often bumpy. It is even worse if you fail to achieve the important thing or achieve it too late. There are now digital applications that directly replace conventional communication channels and bundle them online in one tool. Messages can be exchanged in real time and collected thematically.

If the tasks of the various trades are set up in task management tools, all information can be saved directly where it is needed: directly on the task. If everyone involved in the construction has access to the tool, everyone can view the updates and is immediately up to date. Thanks to the latest technologies such as cloud computing, it is possible to set up the digital infrastructure in a lean and cost-effective manner. As a further plus, the document management can also be made much clearer.

Gaining time for effective work

When digital solutions promise that you will save a few minutes here and there, that doesn't sound like much at first. Adding up to the many activities during the day suddenly results in whole hours over the course of weeks and months, which you will certainly use sensibly for other tasks. It is entirely up to you whether it is the overtime that you reduce or pursue other value-adding activities.

Accelerate processes and meet deadlines

Not only is time often too short. Entire appointments are postponed due to the unexpected or manual processes dragging on. With digitization, you can simplify and accelerate the processes, so that you can plan more time buffers or even allow construction work to be completed more quickly. Your schedules will become more reliable again and you can concentrate increasingly on a smooth construction process.

Preventing mistakes and avoiding them in a targeted manner

Opaque and complicated processes make you lose track of things quickly. The risk of errors creeping in is increasing. If construction defects occur as a result, it is annoying and costly. The clearer and more transparent the processes are for everyone involved in the project, the easier it is to anticipate problems and avert them in advance.

to cut costs

Think again about the minutes and hours that you can save time, about meeting deadlines and about efficient prevention of defects. Manpower, time and construction materials are essential resources in use on the construction site. Outdated practices simply waste a lot of it. Thanks to digital support, you can counteract this and use your resources much more efficiently. This saves you costs for every item that needs to be calculated, no matter how small.

Open up new business areas

You no longer have to do the same work day in and day out and hope that the demand for it will remain the same as before. Digitization offers many ways in which you can renew and expand your company's range of services. The current times really make it necessary to deal flexibly with the trends in the construction industry. You don't have to play along everywhere, but rather use the trends that are appropriate for your company and that really advance your company. Digitization in the construction industry offers you additional opportunities to build your company even more economically.

Problems and challenges in the digitization process

Many entrepreneurs are already recognizing that digitization can unlock lucrative potential in the construction industry. But when it comes to implementation, the many challenges that have to be overcome are often discouraging. We take a look at potential difficulties and how to deal with them.

Lack of know-how for the integration of modern applications

You have a full schedule and your employees didn't necessarily grow up with digital devices. Then it can be difficult to turn all processes upside down on your own initiative and to work smoothly with them overnight. Although good applications are designed to be as intuitive as possible with regard to their usability, know-how and practice are required to become familiar with the new work processes.

Training courses offered and experienced customer support can provide good support here. You can also involve your young staff, who tend to be more enthusiastic about the digital world. If there is not enough fresh air in your company yet, look for temporary support from working students, for example.

Say goodbye to the motto “We have always done it this way”!

Unwillingness to change

In order to properly implement digitization in construction companies, familiar project processes often need to be adapted. Every change requires a certain willingness to change. We understand how easy it can be to do the tried and tested over and over again. Sometimes, however, it is also the operational blindness that does not show that some activities have long been in need of improvement.

To ensure that all employees feel that they have been picked up and motivated in the change process, mutual exchange is essential. If everyone involved recognizes the benefits of the new optimization measures and there are no personal disadvantages to fear, the willingness to accompany changes increases in general.

The togetherness is no longer like it used to be

Many people complain about the lack of social exchange in digitization. Surely the one or the other “hello” and “best regards” gets lost with the task management tool. However, valuable interpersonal work can also be cultivated in other ways. Maybe you just plan a few minutes of small talk or a team breakfast together to maintain personal contact with each other.

Initial investment varies

Depending on the specific processes you are converting from analog to digital, it can involve low to high investments. Most companies do not have enough budget to put all good ideas into practice immediately. This often begs the question of where is the best place to start. Waiting to answer or hesitating because of concerns can make it harder to keep up.

A well thought-out approach provides a remedy: Which costs are hidden behind the optimization and which added value results from the improvements should be precisely calculated at the beginning and offset against each other. If you start with lucrative steps, you can already save costs and refinance them directly in further improvements.

Inadequate compatibility in use

More and more digital solutions are available on the market. Many are still individual solutions and the question then arises as to how everything fits into a system. Lack of compatibility is a major challenge. But good providers of modern applications are aware of this and are creating more and more opportunities for efficient interfaces with one another. In order to avoid a fragmented system landscape, it is worth taking a look at the specific technical properties of the application in advance.

What do current studies report on digitization in the construction industry

Many tempting advantages contrast with some challenges to overcome. Enough pulling power to set an industry in motion. But how far is the construction industry compared to other industries? The following numbers clarify.

Digitization of the construction industry compared to other industries

In recent years, a lot has happened in terms of digitization, but development in the construction industry is making slow progress. If we take a look at the entire SME sector in Germany, around 53% of companies have digitization as an integral part of their business. In the construction industry, it is only 38% of medium-sized construction companies. This emerges from the study “Digitization Index for SMEs 2020/2021” by techconsult.

The corona pandemic as a driver of digitization

The corona pandemic has given many industries a real boost to integrate digital solutions even more strongly into the business model. The construction industry is not unaffected. For 46% of the companies, the corona pandemic is reason enough to adapt products and services. A little over a third of the companies started digitizing processes straight away. Many companies believe in the added value of digitization and, especially now, want to hold on to further digitizing their construction company. Some companies are even planning to invest even more in digital alignment than previously thought. Incidentally, it has already been proven that companies that are further advanced in digitization were able to react much better to the circumstances of the corona pandemic than companies that are not yet as digitally oriented.

Productivity in the German construction industry

Those who want to do business even more effectively and increase productivity rely on process optimization and digitization. Since 1995 the productivity of the German economy has increased by 1.32% annually. The construction industry, on the other hand, became 0.26% more productive. This means that billions of euros escape the German economy every year. It doesn't look much different on a global level either.

PropTechs: Startups develop innovative solution models

Construction companies rarely create the solution models themselves that they need for digitized work. The providers in this case are start-ups - in the construction industry so-called property technology companies or PropTechs for short. In the German-speaking region alone, 466 innovative companies were counted as of September 2020.And more and more are being added. Capmo is one of the PropTechs in the construction projects category. But also when it comes to property management and property management and a lot more to do with construction, there are numerous start-ups in various classifications that are working on innovative solutions. Original ideas no longer just come from Silicon Valley, but are developed right on the doorstep.

Digitization of the construction industry in practice

The various areas of the construction industry have progressed to different degrees in terms of digitization. We take a look at the focal points and what is currently moving construction companies the most.

Digitization in civil engineering: BIM has been in use for a long time

Whether in road construction, sewer construction or other civil engineering projects - the spatial dimensions of these building structures are enormous. A folding rule cannot be used to draw up precise plans here. Using digital surveying technology is already a matter of course in civil engineering. Clear 3D models are routinely used in order to be able to represent the construction project in a meaningful way. The basic BIM concept has therefore been lived for a long time compared to other areas of construction. There is currently further potential in even better networked processes.

Digitization in building construction: making BIM applicable to all companies

The use of BIM also plays a central role in building construction. The federal government supports and promotes the development. In order to make BIM applicable for numerous small, medium-sized and large companies, digitization in building construction is primarily about setting up so-called Open BIM standards. This means that data is exchanged on a uniform standard with which all those involved in the project can work together. Process optimization and the digitization of the construction site can still be expanded, especially in smaller companies, whereas large companies have already made further progress.

Digitization in house construction: smart solutions on the advance

What applies to civil engineering and building construction is no different in traditional house construction. Process optimization and BIM are the potential for further increases in productivity in construction. When it comes to digitization in house construction, other applications are used that not only simplify the processes, but can also be considered special performance features: Combining the planning of a new property with virtual reality already makes living tangible, still before the building stands. Even planning a smart home directly in the four walls promises pleasant comfort and higher energy efficiency.

Digitization of construction: digitize the construction site

Hardly any other process step related to the life cycle of a building still harbors as much untapped potential for improvements as the construction. That is understandable, because many individual and complex processes in construction are difficult to define as standards. Even if slowly, development is progressing here too. Construction 4.0 is becoming a buzzword when it comes to digitization in construction, especially on the construction site.

The most important trends in digitization in the construction industry

Trends are often ridiculed or dismissed as a mere fad. This is a little different in the construction industry. What turns out to be a trend here has already proven itself in other industries. This is shown above all by the following three concepts:

Artificial intelligence: AI in the construction industry

It is often met with skepticism at first, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers a wide range of advantages. With the help of data, AI can achieve cognitive computing power that humans are not capable of - or only with great effort. In practical terms, this means: A machine can use AI to reduce work, reduce error rates and improve safety on the construction site.

For example, robots or drones equipped with an AI system are used for this. A prerequisite for a reliable evaluation is a carefully thought-out database from which the machine can initially learn. During the actual application, the machine compares newly collected information with the historical data. In this way, it can evaluate existing data immediately and, for example, identify sources of danger much faster than a human being through manual checks.

Building Information Modeling: BIM

Building Information Modeling, or BIM for short, is a very developed trend in the construction industry. It is a software-based solution that stores all data and information about a building in one system. It starts with the planning and extends over the entire life cycle of a construction project. Even after execution and acceptance, the BIM logic provides for the system to be used for renovation work through to dismantling for efficient processing. Clear 3D animations depict the construction project virtually. Stored information about the construction is saved in one place and thus increases the transparency and enables an effective cooperation of all those involved in the construction.

Construction 4.0: The digitization of the construction site

Whether for administration, planning or building. You can rethink digitally in various areas. The digitization of the construction site is particularly exciting for construction companies. Also to be understood under Construction 4.0, this trend relates to a wide variety of processes related to construction. Whether building material, process technology or the use of labor - every step, no matter how deeply rooted, can be digitally supported or completely replaced. The challenge here is the complex interplay of the many steps. Entire research teams from universities and entrepreneurs are now busy cracking this nut and making digital construction a reality.

No longer clarify the pending tasks by fax, letter or telephone, but simply by clicking in an app. Store information in a targeted manner and find it again quickly and easily. The digitization of the construction industry has great potential to make everyday work more effective and economically efficient. Saying goodbye to endless mountains of paper is one of the most important steps in this direction. No matter how far digital you are in your company. One or the other piece of paper can certainly also be digitized. You can find out how you can completely switch to digital documentation in our eBook “Ways to a paperless construction site”, which you can download free of charge.