The pandemic affected every form of business, without exception. Some were worse hit than others. A prime example is the construction industry which came to a grinding halt during the lockdown; due to a human crisis with the laborer exodus and struggled with multiple challenges of labor, safety protocols, supply-chain, mounting delays and more. However, industry experts agree that things could have been much worse and that it was digitization of several protocols and processes across the industry that helped bring the construction world back on track, as early as January 2021.
The construction sector does not enjoy industry status despite being a major employer. While it witnessed a tough 2020, the New Year has brought about a positive sentiment, particularly after the announcement of the vaccine. There has been an upsurge in specific sectors of construction too, particularly the residential one.
Let’s take a look at how digital technologies helped change construction trends.
Thanks to the efficacy of digital technologies, work-from-home became the catch phrase of the lockdown. Not only were people working from home, students were studying from home as well. Being digitally connected empowered an individual to work from anywhere in the country. There has been a surge of people going back to their hometowns – many in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and we have seen an upsurge in the demand for bigger homes, larger properties and improved work-from-home facilities being installed.
Pre-fabricated construction has been on the rise and this is based on precise technology that enables consistency and speed. The same can be seen in application protocols that have been standardized and set for architectural products – be it exterior cladding or interior fittings.
Before the pandemic, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) helped in the creation of a structured approach to construction. It also helped in increasing efficiency. Such technologies helped in analyzing failures and examining quality of construction. It reduced human error and enabled exact documentation of work processes. This ensured optimal use of time and took care of preventive maintenance. The benefits of these technologies were seen in a post-pandemic scenario.
For aspects such as cladding, that is used for thermal efficiency and aesthetics, digital protocols such as energy modelling helped achieve energy efficiency. Passive architectural elements such as louvers were increasingly and optimally used to mitigate glare and heat. To ensure durability – the entire design of the exterior façade could be enhanced based on digitally researched environmental factors of wind and heat much before devising an installation system.
Sustainability aspects with each of the technologies that have developed around the construction industry is the emphasis on sustainability. The Indian consumer is second to none and deserves the best that technology can make room for.
The benefits of the application of such technologies have been a quicker time to project completion and handover. It has enabled the creation of energy efficient buildings which will stand the test of time. It has enabled customized creation of structures based on numerous factors that influence construction. The life expectancy of a structure is increased and a customer gets value for his money.
The construction industry that is now significantly dependent on technology has some challenges it has to work towards solving. The Indian market is a price-sensitive one and therefore it is important to build a model that is a well-known brand with a high trust factor and is low on maintenance. Value for money should be a priority and technology can enable this. Technology driven processes may not be patented as yet, however they do set an industry standard, which then contributes to the elevation of the sector in general. They also streamline processes ensuring better material planning, reduced wastage, and the ability to function with limited labor and better time management.
The bottom line should be to protect and increase the life of the building and bring in sustainability. Technology in construction will continue to play a huge role in this.
(The author, Dr Prashanth Reddy, is Managing Director of Fundermax India, Indian subsidiary of 130- year old Austrian company, Fundermax.)