How Technology Is Changing the Construction Industry Supply Chain


How Technology Is Changing the Construction Industry Supply Chain
The ongoing supply chain crisis has impacted industries worldwide. From agriculture to commerce, shipping and transport disruptions have contributed to rising prices, declining productivity, and work stoppages.

The construction industry is by no means immune to the effects of the supply chain crisis. However, new technologies are emerging to secure and optimize the construction industry supply chain. In the process, they’re changing how the industry works.

The Advent of 3D Models and VR

Perhaps one of the most exciting and promising innovations in the construction industry is the advent of 3D models and virtual reality (VR) tools. 3D printers are increasingly being used to create small-scale models of construction projects while they are still in the design and planning phases.

These models can help commercial and residential property owners better envision the finished design, modifying plans as needed before materials are ordered and construction begins. This prevents the construction supply chain from becoming clogged with shipments of materials that may ultimately prove superfluous or unsatisfactory.

Virtual reality (VR) technologies are also being used for much the same purpose. Through the use of VR goggles and haptic gloves, designers and clients alike can conduct a simulated walkthrough of the finished construction. These simulations enable users to experience the finished design, which better equips them to ascertain whether the current design plan will meet their needs, expectations, and goals.

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This ultimately results in fewer requested changes during the buildout. The supply chain, consequently, becomes more efficient because construction managers will be able to commission only what is necessary for construction and nothing more.

Supply Chain Automation

As important as 3D modeling and VR simulations may be, particularly to the design and planning process, supply chain automation may be even more so.

Automated supply chain management systems optimize workflow not only by supporting inventory planning but also through advanced data analytics. Automated systems, for example, can deploy big data solutions to evaluate consumer behaviors, industry trends, and market data to define the most efficient and cost-effective solutions for supply chain management. For instance, automated systems may detect an emerging trend toward the use of knotty pine in the interiors of residential constructions and may source relevant products based on specified criteria, such as cost, distance, or manufacturer.

Automated systems, indeed, may be used not only for inventory management and data analytics, but for almost any function relating to the supply chain. This includes scheduling shipments and deliveries, requisitioning warehouse equipment for the receiving and storing of shipped materials, and identifying and remediating inefficiencies in the supply chain to increase profit margins, maximize productivity and efficiency, and ensure exceptional customer service.

Supporting Transparency and Communication

Digitalization in the construction industry is also contributing to greater transparency and more effective communication between stakeholders. Firms which are connected through shared IT networks are able to overcome the software incompatibility challenges which have long undermined information-sharing between partners and stakeholders.

Consequently, designers, construction managers, and suppliers are better able to send and receive data in real-time, thereby eliminating inefficiencies and reducing the risk of unnecessary project delays. Suppliers, for example, can monitor the status of a construction project, evaluate inventory levels, and dispatch needed materials in a timely manner, ensuring that contractors have what they need for each phase of the buildout when they need it.

The Rise of IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a dominant feature of daily life today. From wearable fitness trackers to bedside sleep monitors to barcode apps downloaded on a smartphone, consumers and business professionals alike are almost always connected to the internet through multiple devices.

Such is the case for those working in the construction industry as well. Indeed, the IoT is proving increasingly effective in supply chain management. IoT devices can be used to track and monitor construction materials across the supply chain, including sending real-time alerts to decision-makers when a shipping delay occurs. This enables managers to revise shipping plans and prevent work stoppages.

IoT devices can also be used to monitor shipping and storage conditions for sensitive materials, such as those items which must maintain target temperature and humidity levels to avoid degradation of the materials.

The Takeaway

The supply chain crisis has taken its toll on businesses and consumers alike. The construction industry has also been significantly impacted by this ongoing emergency. The good news, however, is that an array of new technologies is helping to mitigate the threat of the supply chain crisis in the construction industry. This includes the use of 3D models and VR simulations to facilitate construction design and project planning, the use of automated technologies to optimize workflow and support project and industry analysis, and the use of IoT and digitalization to enhance communication, inventory management, and materials shipping and storage. With the advent of these technologies, construction industry supply chains are becoming more productive, efficient, and secure than ever before.