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In a list of U.S. industries that have automated business processes, the construction industry is at the bottom.
In order to sustain growth, contractors, suppliers and logistics providers need to undergo a transformation, which involves digitizing their supply chains through a connected network and automated processes. The old ways of working no longer lead to success. Today’s climate and culture requires having the ability to make smarter, faster decisions.
By digitizing construction business processes, these benefits can be realized:
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an initiative in 2017 to address the problem called “Every Day Counts: Innovation Initiative.” The plan is to combine e-construction with so-called Construction Partnering (aka E-C&P) in an effort to move the industry forward. E-C&P calls for training and aid for decision-makers and other key stakeholders, such as State DOTs, contractors and consultants.
E-construction replaces paper with electronic processes that improve workflow, increase transparency, improve safety, enhance quality, and save time and money. One primary goal is to accelerate adoption (change management and ROI) to create a new norm in construction-related project management, communication, and workflows. E-construction tools provide a single repository of critical documentation — one single version of the truth — for all stakeholders to work with. For example, contractors in the field can use a mobile device to electronically pull up and check an order they have placed with a supplier, create approvals, track deliveries, and digitally sign off on documents.
Construction Partnering is a project management practice where transportation agencies, contractors and others create a team relationship built on trust in order to reduce risk and help achieve mutually beneficial goals and objectives. With better communication and collaboration, businesses and agencies will be able to proactively resolve issues, reduce claims and litigation, minimize waste, and meet project budgets and deadlines.
Combining e-construction tools and construction partnering practices ensures that team members are equipped with both the tools and the information needed to identify and resolve project issues proactively. The combination also improves efficiencies in project management and delivery, resulting in reduced construction time, optimized costs, and higher quality projects.
The construction industry invests less in IT annually than most other industries. In the future, these businesses and organizations will have to invest more in technology systems and solutions and eliminate manual, paper-based processes. The industry will also have to better integrate systems using modern tools like APIs and web services to enable automated processing from beginning to end with little or no human intervention.
Lori Allen is solutions marketing manager for Command Alkon.
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