The construction industry worldwide is expected to reach over $12,031.1 billion USD by 2024 but the global labour-productivity growth in the sector has been much lower than in other industries. This anomaly is due to factors, such as the lack of collaboration between different stakeholders, and this is where technology can help.
The industry is not yet taking full advantage of everything that construction tech has to offer. However, things are changing. Innovative construction tech startups in Southeast Asia are offering solutions to streamline many processes. Currently, the COVID-19 crisis is providing an added stimulus to move construction companies towards digital construction.
How technology can transform construction
In an automated car factory, you see robots completing complex actions on the assembly line. There are still people monitoring every step in the process on computer screens which provide information, such as production output and quality control. The construction industry is not there yet, but it is moving in the right direction. The application of similar systems to the process of construction projects would bring enormous benefits.
Technology has been at the forefront of the construction industry growth, we look at The Philippines’ industry
The majority of construction mega-projects suffer cost overruns and delays, and the accompanying higher workload can put pressure on safety as they make up for the lost time. Construction tech could offer a solution to this by monitoring every step of the process to improve productivity, diminish delays and secure safety along the way. Though beneficial in every step of the construction process, a McKinsey report shows startups and investors are more interested in the construction phase itself, which is the most complex and often the most time-consuming part. But off course construction tech also offers solutions for the design, preconstruction, operations and management phases.
Field productivity apps can provide solutions in tracking employees working activities by GPS or getting them to provide their daily accomplishments and working hours. Management can track the working hours, add the data to their project burndown charts and monitor the situation to ensure it corresponds with the anticipated budgets.
Collaboration is a huge challenge in the engineering and construction sector where there are many stakeholders, such as engineers, architects and supervisors, who need to work closely together. One small change in the design of a building can affect the work for every collaborator. Construction tech startups have developed tools to counter this challenge. To update blueprints, engineers and architects don’t need to go to their office every time but can adjust their plan in the field via a mobile application. Managers can input performance data on-site and evaluate the process in real-time on performance dashboards.
Back-office integrations are also extremely helpful in construction. Besides accounting applications, construction tech can provide valuable project data for financing a project and aids for scheduling and equipment management. Here are three construction tech startups in Southeast Asia, helping to change the face of the industry:
This Singapore-based tech startup provides field management software with a mobile-first approach. Their focus is on streamlining paperwork and improving safety and productivity. In light of the coronavirus, the application can automate the capturing of the daily body temperatures of employees.
With insights gained through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), Novade makes construction sites safer by identifying potential risks. In April, the company closed a Series B funding round to accelerate geographical expansion and increase its AI capabilities.
Founded in 2016, another Singapore-based construction tech startup, Hubble specialises in construction analytics data. Hubble offers digital solutions in resource deployment, management of productivity and safety. Their integrated construction management platform lets construction companies track employees, machines, material and financial data, which becomes accessible on an overview dashboard.
Recently, Hubble had its first external fund-raising round and raised $3.6 million USD from Tin Men Venture Capital.
We speak to The Philippines first tech unicorn about their journey and plan.
This construction tech startup based in Thailand delivers an all-in-one software that connects all parties in the construction process. With the various modules, users can track inventory, manage progress and even purchase construction materials through its eCommerce platform.
Remarkably Builk offers their software for free and receives their revenue through B2B advertising of products and services in the construction industry, a smart way to expand their services and benefit all users.
Construction tech startups can play a significant role in all phases of the construction process to the benefit of all players in the sector. But currently, this widely fragmented industry makes it challenging to get all companies on board with digitalisation. Construction projects incorporate many subcontractors, all operating with their own systems. But gradually, construction tech startups in Southeast Asia are offering comprehensive integrated systems and many construction companies are starting to see the benefits of this digital evolution. It is genuinely benefiting the sector in areas such as field productivity, collaborations and back-office management., and soon digital construction will be indispensable.