Update Construction Technology Needs (Archived)

RT-173 Topic Summary
RT 173


The construction industry is passive in regards to the use of technology during construction activities. Prospects for future industrial development point to a growing use of technology in all industry sectors. Currently, technology is predominantly being developed in other industries and may later be adopted and modified by the construction industry without much structure and guidance. In addition, the construction industry lacks a clear definition of technologies that are actually needed to achieve excellence in the four target areas of cost, schedule, safety, and quality.

The purpose of this study is therefore to identify and analyze current needs for technologies and present them in a structured framework of what is needed most and how it should be achieved. The report describes the work done during an assessment of future technology needs in the construction industry. The research team conducted a survey and a thorough literature review of previous needs assessments for the construction industry and topics related to technology in construction, their development, implementation, and relation to the situation of the construction work force.

Survey respondents highlighted the need for integrated systems for planning and executing construction projects that are geared towards improving the actual field operations, the need for improved communication between the project participants as well as within the construction industry at large, and the need for a structured approach to the issue of technological innovation. Based on the knowledge gained in the study, the researchers developed the Technology Implementation Cycle as a viable way of integrating all parties in the construction industry in a process of continuous evaluation and development of better technologies, having a benefit with regard to cost, time, safety, or quality. Application of the Technology Implementation Cycle will enable the construction industry to become a dynamic entity that sets its own technology R&D agenda and embraces innovation through technology.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Work Processes

Two work processes where developments in technology could improve performance with significant benefit to the industry are 1) on-site information flow (providing drawings, specifications, and other work management information to the labor at the work site) and 2) field materials management (tracking, locating, finding, and distributing the right material to the right location at the right time). (RS173-1, p. 4)

Reference: (RS173-1)

2 : Positive Impact

Developments in technology have the most potential for improvement and positive impact in CII Knowledge Area – Construction. (RS173-1, p. 5)
Reference: (RS173-1)

3 : Barriers

Barriers frequently prevent the effective use, implementation, and adoption of new and existing technologies. (RS173-1, p. 10)
Reference: (RS173-1)

4 : Benefits

A clearly demonstrable and positive benefit to cost ratio is the most important single attribute for a new technology. An ability to improve safety and an ability to replace or augment a shortage of skills in the workforce were also cited as desirable attributes. (RS173-1, p. 7)
Reference: (RS173-1)

5 : Needs

Survey respondents saw a major need to use Information Technology (IT) to connect all project participants with each other to allow easy and fast access to all project information at any time from any location. (RR173-11, p. 187)
Reference: (RR173-1)

6 : Collaboration

Survey respondents saw a major need for companies to establish more and stronger ties with technology providers and suppliers. (RR173-11, p. 187)
Reference: (RR173-1)

7 : Implementation Tool #1

IR173-2, Technology Implementation Cycle

This technology implementation model will facilitate companies, institutions, and individuals as they work to develop and implement new tools, technologies, and processes in the construction industry. Two significant components of the model:

  • Development Champion – Responsible for the broader technology perspective and has the authority to develop the technology idea further
  • Implementation Champion – Responsible for the ultimate adoption of the technology by the users
Reference: (IR173-2)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved safety, Improved quality, Improved benefit to cost ratio, Improved resource productivity

Research Publications

Technology Needs Assessment - RS173-1

Publication Date: 02/2003 Type: Research Summary Pages: 8 Status: Archived Supporting Product

Technology Implementation Cycle - IR173-2

Publication Date: 08/2002 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 8 Status: Archived Tool

Construction Technology Needs Assessment Update - RR173-11

Publication Date: 05/2002 Type: Research Report Pages: 292 Status: Archived Reference

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Construction Technology Needs Assessment

Publication Date: 07/2002 Presenter: Gareth Williams Number of Slides: 42 Event Code: AC02