Saving Time in Construction: 5 Tech Innovations for Contractors

Delays are unfortunately the norm in the construction industry. According to McKinsey, 98% of construction projects face delays and cost overruns, with setbacks averaging 20 months. These hold-ups not only cost contractors a lot of money but also prevent them from bidding and moving on to other projects.

One of the primary goals in construction project management is to eliminate factors that cause delays. And to optimize the time it takes to complete tasks. Subsequently, tech solutions to help contractors save time in construction projects have been instrumental in the industry. These innovative construction technologies are reshaping how construction sites are run.

5 Ways Tech Helps Contractors Save Time on Construction Sites

1. Bulk SMS to disseminate notifications and info

Due to the sheer size and scope of construction projects, communicating new information is a challenge for project managers and team leaders. Workers don’t always have internet access while they are on the field. So, they can’t feasibly check messages in their team chat box or email when sudden changes are made.

Fortunately, site managers can inform every site worker reliably through two-way texting and A2P SMS. Workers can quickly be notified in instances of severe weather, power outages, and other hazardous conditions that cause site closures. Utilizing SMS allows management to alert everyone of site closures before they waste time and compromise their safety going to the site.

SMS is also useful to coordinate the ordering and location status of material supplies while they are en route to the construction site. This allows construction work to stay on track and shift priorities if needed, should supplies get delayed.

2. Mobile time clocks to track employee hours

Punch cards and timesheets have always been the standard methods for tracking employee hours in the construction industry. However, they have now become effectively obsolete in our vast technological landscape. Using traditional time-tracking methods was highly inefficient, time-consuming, and prone to human error. It also failed to deter buddy punching and time theft—factors that can cause construction firms to lose substantial amounts of money.

Digital time-tracking can quickly solve the flaws and inefficiencies associated with punch cards and timesheet methods. Not only does it require minimal maintenance, but it also provides accurate data and visibility to project supervisors. The more advanced versions of mobile time clocks even have GPS technology and geofencing, which are helpful for construction sites located in remote areas.

3. Drone technology to conduct site inspections

One of the most critical phases in the construction process is site inspection. Before any construction work is performed, a construction site must first be cleared of safety hazards. This process is crucial to ensuring that construction work will proceed smoothly and that workers will be safe as they carry out their duties.

Back in the day, site inspectors needed to scour the site to identify safety hazards before they give the go-ahead to construction companies. With treacherous terrains and dangerous structures often present on-site, site inspectors needed to be extra careful when performing an inspection. As a consequence, this pre-construction phase took up a lot of time and energy.

Thanks to the use of drone technology, conducting site inspection is now safer and more efficient. Human-led site inspections can take weeks or even months to finish. Whereas a drone can be flown by a single offsite pilot can do the job in a significantly shorter amount of time. Drones can be used to navigate difficult terrains and enter nooks and crevices that are otherwise unreachable to humans.

Aside from site inspections, drones can also be equipped with special accessories and software to aid in the detailing and modeling process. For instance, installing a 3D mapping application allows drones to get precise measurements to produce plans more accurately. They can also be fitted out with cameras to show detailed images or monitor employee movement.

4. Takeoff software to estimate material costs

Another step in the pre-construction phase is estimating the costs and resources needed to complete a construction project. The estimation process can take a lot of time as it requires an in-depth analysis of the project plan to determine the precise measurements and calculate material and labor costs. This process is relatively easy to do. Still, because it needs to be done manually, it is prone to errors in data entry and could take up a considerable chunk in the project’s timeline. These errors can cost contractors considerably if left unfixed.

Using dedicated construction takeoff software, these issues can be easily eliminated. This type of software uses digital blueprints, plans, and historical project information to calculate material costs automatically. As the process is automatic, it significantly reduces the length of the estimation process while also ensuring the accuracy of the cost estimate.

5. Lien management software to protect payments

The construction industry is plagued by payment issues. Due to the scope of a single construction project, payment delays and even nonpayment can be quite common. For instance, a typical construction project can take months, or even years, before it is finished. This affects the billing cycle, and many contractors risk dealing with cash flow issues if they are not paid on time.

Luckily, the law protects contractors from nonpayment through a legal remedy called mechanics lien. By filing a lien, contractors can attach a claim to a property that prevents the owners from selling or refinancing it unless they pay the contractors the amount they owe for the materials and labor provided.

While a mechanics lien is a powerful tool for contractors, preparing the requirements to ensure that it is enforceable can be challenging and time-consuming. A contractor needs to track accounting data to determine which customer accounts are in danger of delinquency, and at the same time, send invoices and pre-lien notices as prescribed by the law. All of these can be easily managed by using dedicated lien management software to automate the processes involved.

Time is money

Finding opportunities to save time on construction sites can have a significant effect on a project’s profitability. After all, time is money in construction. The cost of materials and labor will rise if a project goes beyond schedule. Therefore, contractors must adopt construction innovations and digital solutions to help them save time and stay competitive.

This is a guest post written by Patrick Hogan.

About the Author

Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.