The construction supply chain is one of the most vital components of our culture. Without a reliable industry in place, communities are unlikely to get the affordable and functional properties they need to thrive. This is why it is so important for businesses in the chain to adopt tools that keep processes efficient and effective.
Thankfully, the continued rise of the digital landscape offers valuable solutions in this regard. There are various emerging technologies that have a positive impact on the construction supply chain and the projects it supports. These aren’t just hardware components, but also vital software and infrastructural elements.
We’re going to explore some of the ways these emerging technologies are improving the supply chain.
The Internet of Things
Among the most important emerging technological advances for the construction supply chain is the internet of things (IoT). This ecosystem of connected devices helps to make operations throughout the chain more efficient, productive, and safe. While elements of it have been in place for some time now, construction supply chain businesses continue to establish ways to utilize these tools alongside new IoT tech that enhances key operational activities.
At the moment, several hardware tools are instrumental in transforming the construction industry. Cameras provide live visuals on projects, laser scanners map sites in fine detail, and sensors offer real-time data on current tasks. Individually, these tools are useful, but when connected as part of the construction supply chain IoT, they’re even more powerful.
Scanning devices can keep track of on-site inventory and interact directly with operational systems to automatically reorder key supplies. Video surveillance can be combined with tracking wearables and mobile devices, so site and warehouse managers can ensure safety protocols are being followed. Sensors on delivery vehicles can also be coupled with project planning systems to ensure effective schedules can be built and maintained.
While hardware is offering some transformative opportunities for the construction supply chain, these aren’t effective on their own. They need to be paired with smart software solutions that not only operate the devices but also ensure the tools can be utilized in innovative ways. The good news is that there are developers frequently building platforms that boost the construction supply chain’s tech efficiency and efficacy.
This is apparent in software that improves the visibility of both individual components and the supply chain as a whole. When all contributors to the project can have a better understanding of the tasks performed and the developing needs in real time, there are opportunities to make agile adjustments. For instance, software systems like BuildSort and Geometrid bolster the transparency of the chain by tracking physical and digital assets. This helps to reduce risks for each element of the chain and strengthen the knowledge base all contributors can act on.
It’s also worth noting how prevalent artificial intelligence (AI) driven software is starting to become in the construction supply chain. This is perhaps best known in the industry for the automation of machinery. However, AI software is also supporting the chain in logistics and management processes. These platforms effectively analyze and interpret data to provide project managers with forecasts on inventory needs and personnel requirements throughout builds. Software can also assess transportation routes to ensure the most efficient transit from suppliers to sites, adapting in real time to potential disruptions.
One of the areas too many businesses in the construction supply chain overlook in relation to tech is infrastructure. The hardware and software elements need strong frameworks to underpin them. The IoT can’t function without systems that keep elements connected and AI software is unlikely to perform well without reliable ways to collect and share data.
At the moment, one of the most promising components of construction tech infrastructure is the fifth generation of mobile networks. 5G actively prevents supply chain disruptions by ensuring reliable connectivity and low latency. This means that there can be a large number of devices throughout the chain, used by multiple supply partners, that don’t experience the same deteriorating efficiency we’ve seen from previous generations. 5G makes the IoT, AI software, and chain visibility not just practical but more effective.
Alongside the advances of 5G, smarter security infrastructure is also improving construction supply chains. The industry is a target for cybercriminals who are seeking to gain resources and disrupt projects. Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are quickly emerging as smart solutions that can impact multiple chain partners at the same time. These systems actively monitor networks in the chain, utilizing machine learning to predict threats, make recommendations to managers, and in some cases, automatically respond to potential vulnerabilities.
The construction supply chain continues to benefit from a range of emerging tech tools. This includes the IoT, which enables contributors in the chain to be more connected and efficient. Software solutions are also improving visibility across the supply chain and improving automation with AI. It’s important to remember, too, that security and 5G network infrastructure ensures other tech tools are functional, safe, and effective. As these technologies continue to develop, construction supply partners are likely to benefit from more practical and profitable operations.