Working Toward Digital Collab in Const.

Oct. 6, 2020

Technology in the construction industry has not changed much over the years, according to an article on the Conexpo-Con/AGG website. Studies indicate the industry is behind in terms of automation, innovation, and adapting to change. One way to improve jobsite efficiency and profitability is digital collaboration with suppliers and vendors. 

Alex Moody, senior project manager at software company Command Alkson, says in nowadays, a n increasing number of mobile devices and apps are available at the jobsite. Nevertheless, there are still challenges when it comes to digitalization in certain areas of construction.

"The heavy building materials supply chain, [for example] still lives in a world of manual processes,” Moody says. “This is a complex web of point-to-point solutions between owners, contractors, producers, material suppliers, and haulers."

The supply chain is really a “many-to-many relationships” with many suppliers working with many buyers, Moody explains. The ecosystem of the supply chain participants uses different apps, project management systems, accounting and ERP systems, reporting and analytics systems, etc. The challenge is: How do we start connecting everyone and allowing them to collaborate?

An Open Platform, Designed for Construction 

An industry collaboration platform needs to be an open, network-based technology platform specifically designed for construction’s heavy work and support multiple materials types, like aggregate, asphalt, concrete and cement, says Moody. The idea is to easily connect the supply chain partners–contractors, suppliers, haulers and producers–to deliver electronic transactions, share and exchange date and streamline inter (B2B) and intra-company processes using the same platform. There also needs to be integration with technology partners and third-party solutions.

“This enables business insight with reporting and analytics tools which provide real-time, actionable information to power business and provide visibility across the supply chain.”

With digital collaboration, everyone in the supply chain needs to be onboard, otherwise implementation will be particularly challenging.

Questions to ask when moving into digital collaboration: 

  • Is the software provider you are researching willing to work with a network or are they saying they are a standalone company? "If they are, that should be a red flag because the network does not operate on one single software. Software companies need to be willing to work with other software companies.”
  • What information do you desire, what data do you want to capture and how are you going to capture it? This is probably the most challenging step for now, he says. As the industry moves forward, capturing valuable data will become easier.
  • Why are you moving into digital collaboration? There must be a “mentality of continuous improvement or you are doomed,” warns Wilberts. “Once you start adopting technology, you are going to have to continue to move forward because technology continues to evolve.”