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Construction in America

For CMs, Innovation and Technology are Essential to Balance the Needs of the Project with the Needs of the Owner


Andrea Rutledge

CAE, President & CEO, Construction Management Association of America

While the construction industry traditionally has been slow to change the way it operates, construction managers (CMs) are adapting to new technologies in order to effectively lead projects. CMs are uniquely qualified to work with owners and other stakeholders to determine the best possible sequence of construction operations and develop a detailed schedule and budget, establishing plans for project safety and security, and helping owners manage risk.

Today’s capital projects are becoming more challenging, with greater complexity in both the delivery and construction. Sustainability and environmental stewardship are increasingly important in both design and construction, and innovative technology also plays a key role. 

To achieve considerable improvements in construction productivity and to ensure on-time and on-budget delivery, a CM will look to ensure that, during the design and engineering phase, both the construction and operation of the completed project are kept in mind. 

CMs use technology to improve field productivity though easy-to-use cloud-based apps. Software designed to be easily accessible through smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices gives CMs the ability to access schedules, use Building Information Models (BIM), and file reports from the field.

By eliminating or significantly reducing the need to manually handle documents, substantial time can be saved each month. Automating reports, decision-making, and documentation processes can improve the quality of the data collected. Storing these files — photos, schedules, and other necessary documents and reports — in the cloud allows for all project stakeholders to have access and for them to be put to use almost immediately.

Construction managers are using data analysis to innovate project delivery and to ensure greater on-time and on-budget projects. This collection of real-time data can immediately be translated into action and can bring projects back on course.

In the near future, CMs will utilize new technology to ensure greater project success and benefit to the triple bottom line in terms of financial, social, and environmental considerations. Technology and process innovations are moving at an amazing pace, and CMs will provide the leadership needed to utilize these advancements:

  • Virtual & Augmented Reality — VR/AR advancements allow for real-time comparison of 3D models to physical spaces, virtual walkthroughs with stakeholders, and increased safety.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) — Among the greatest potential benefits of AI is in making projects safer and reducing risks. AI algorithms can identify and analyze safety hazards, including notifying field supervisors when personal protective equipment (PPE) is not being used properly onsite or when equipment is at risk of breaking down.
  • Blockchain — Blockchain is changing the way people exchange digital information over the Internet. A Blockchain is a secure history of data exchanges, utilizing a peer-to-peer network to time stamp and verify each exchange and is managed autonomously without a central authority. Blockchain has the potential to greatly improve efficiencies in data collection, file storage, communications, and scheduling by reducing or eliminating reliance on email. 
  • Predictive Analysis/Analytics — Predictive analysis utilizes data collection, AI, BIM, and VR to make future predictions. This new approach to problem solving uses the immense amount of data collected through these new technologies and predicts patterns in workflows and possible problems, providing CMs with earlier insight into potential problems or process conflicts.

Andrea Rutledge, CAE, President & CEO, Construction Management Association of America, [email protected]

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