We assembled a panel of industry experts to tackle this month’s question.
Here’s what they had to say.
Jim Caulfield, partner, Fields Development Group/Katerra (Hoboken)
With such an active pipeline of projects along the Gold Coast, and demand only increasing, New Jersey’s construction industry has experienced a shortage of labor. At Fields, we’re planning to better utilize technology in order to adapt to the labor shortage while exploring different avenues that increase production and reduce waste simultaneously. For example, implementing technology will help with tasks such as managing delivery schedules, material design and organization, personnel management and development of new product. We’re also moving toward using technology to track progress for our entire roster of projects, which will improve accuracy, efficiency and be extremely beneficial as we expand to new markets.
Daniel Cocoziello, principal and vice president of development, Advance Realty (Bridgewater)
Commercial real estate today is being transformed by tech-based tools that are both gathering and sharing a tremendous amount of information. As developers of an increasingly diverse portfolio, Advance is now able to tap into incredibly precise data sets that can tell us not just who is living and working in a given area, but how they commute, when they commute, when and where they eat out and exactly what experiences they’re seeking in an apartment or office — enabling more informed decisions about where we build and how we design.
At the same time, increased adoption of tools like Building Information Modeling are changing the up-front construction process, allowing for faster, more precise decisions to be made. Management platforms like Procore, Honest Buildings, CMIC (the list goes on) allow for more efficient sharing of data between contractors, subcontractors, consultants and other partners that allow for faster, more efficient exchanges of submittals, RFIs and field changes that ultimately impact time and money. For an industry that has been notoriously “old school” in its process, it has now moved into being a sophisticated leader at the forefront of technology and information sharing.
Joe Fleming, executive vice president, land services group, PS&S (Warren)
The evolution of construction delivery starting with project feasibility, moving through project design, construction documents and project construction and culminating in the ribbon cutting ceremony has been incredibly enhanced over the last 30 years by the growth of technology.
- Vital feasibility data from our GIS professionals provides a great point of beginning;
- PS&S’s state-of-the-art survey technologies with laser scanners and survey drones furnish expedient and accurate reconnaissance on all land and structures;
- Digital design and documentation of both land and building assignments has simply improved the speed and accuracy of delivery every year;
- These same technological advances manifest themselves in construction through the evaluation of quantities, stakeouts, progress assessments and much more;
- Given the technological enthusiasm of our seasoned professionals combined with aptitude and energy of our recent graduates, the future for construction delivery is bright!
Michael Mullin, president, Integrated Business Systems (Totowa)
While construction is one of the world’s largest industries, it traditionally has been among the smallest investors in technology. That is changing, and a new generation of cloud-based project management software is improving and optimizing the fundamental pillars of the business. The obvious benefits are found in communication and efficiencies, as mobile devices enable professionals in the field to immediately — and seamlessly — access, store and share project data. However, the longer-term benefits are equally exciting. Research shows that, historically, 95 percent of project data (think blueprints, work schedules and meeting notes) has been discarded or simply not collected. Today’s cloud-based, integrated world means that these “vital statistics” are being captured electronically, in real time, within an organization’s enterprise accounting system. In turn, business intelligence is rising to a new level, with modern analytics, reporting and monitoring functionality paving the way for truly data-driven decision-making — a game-changer for the construction industry.
Todd Laubach, vice president, March Associates Construction Inc. (Wayne)
Historically our industry has lagged in technological advancements. The millennial wave has hit the forefront in the construction industry, making tremendous strides in recent years. It has become the norm for our high-tech society to infiltrate all aspects of construction from field implementation of GPS, robotics and virtual reality to design and managementrelated items like 3D modeling, cloud-based management suites, real time safety and field reporting software. Our industry has embraced the social media boom with marketing techniques that are coming full circle from a virtual idea to approvals, design, groundbreaking and commissioning. What does this all mean? We are constantly at odds with ourselves as we gain knowledge and speed from all of these advancements that enable us to creatively work ourselves into being more proficient and accountable with less people!
Brian Tobiasz, senior managing director, Newmark Knight Frank (Rutherford)
Technology has changed construction extensively as it relates to the overall process from design to preconstruction and eventual construction execution with advanced computer programs. Programs such as BIM (Building Information Modeling) allow design professionals to better coordinate design and layouts. Programs such as ProCore help construction managers organize project paperwork and communicate with the overall project team more efficiently and effectively. These programs also assist in managing the transference of information throughout the project process from office to office and from the office into the field. Simple technology such as tablets allows field personnel to interact with office personnel and address on-site issues in real time. Web-based tools such as WebEx allow multiple project team members to communicate and collaborate on screen from all over the country and world. These advancements in technology provide the opportunity to streamline the overall design and construction execution process.
As technology relates to new development opportunities, it is providing developers and design professionals the ability to look at an asset and transform it into something that it was not originally intended to be. Recently in Newark, an old steel plant building was transformed into an indoor farm. NAIOP Development Magazine published an article from Ware Malcomb on vertical warehousing. The old Bell Works site in Holmdel was transformed into what is being called a “metroburb.” These types of transformations and new concepts in how we work are being driven by the technology that allows us to explore it.