We're living in a digital revolution, where companies, including construction, are making advancements to the technology and equipment they use. Today, construction companies need more than a dump truck, cement mixer and crane to get the job done. Over the years, advancements to technology has made construction sites safer and workers more efficient, leading to increased productivity, improved collaboration, and the ability to tackle more complex projects.
The Technology Shift
The construction technology landscape is shifting rapidly. Rewind about 10-20 years ago, there weren't drones, or AI technology used to model buildings. There was heavy machinery and printed blueprints that told you how to get the job done. Today, construction employees work from their mobile devices and use advance technologies to create more efficiency.
These advancements in mobility, applications, and the cloud are changing the capabilities of construction networks, resulting in greater efficiency, smarter teams, integrated data and a quick transfer of knowledge.
Current Software and Technologies
Aside from the drone, mobile device and heavy machinery equipment, some of the daily software technology used today in construction includes:
- ERP Systems: This is an enterprise software for contractors, engineers and field services forms. This software integrates purchasing, contracting, HR, materials and finance into one system.
- Tool Management Software: This software tracks tools, schedule maintenance, and manage inventory.
- Construction CRM software: Used for project management and for quote and order management.
- Building Information Modeling (BIM): A tool used for intelligent 3D modeling.
Specific construction management software, such as ERP systems and tool management software, have often shifted to a cloud architecture model. This means construction plans, customer data, and construction technologies are no longer relegated to onsite, on a hard drive, or even on servers at headquarters. Because of this, you need to reconsider how you're securing your network and data.
The Network Shift
This change to new technologies has also created a shift of modern construction networks. Overtime, networks and communication in construction has gotten more complex. These three images below show how construction networks have changed overtime. As you can see, each image shows an increase in communication and data sharing to each remote location, HQ and the cloud.
Current Construction Network
Today, there are three main ways that construction companies communicate and share data through the network; mobile, cloud and wide area network.
- Mobility: Construction organizations now rely on remote workers communicating and processing data over tablets, laptops, and phones.
- Cloud: Construction companies now often use applications to process and store data in the cloud. This is often outside of the construction network.
- Wide Area Network: Construction sites need to communicate with corporate offices, other sites, and vendors. This Is often achieved through VPN access or SDWAN technologies.
So, what does this "network shift mean"? It means that IT leaders need to focus on both on-premise tech, and mobile technology. Because most construction workers are mobile, traditional rigid network architecture must now adapt to the following;
- As a service, cloud-based software
- Remote file shares, storage, and data sharing technologies
- 3rd party security policies
- BYOD (Bring you own device)
- Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops
This creates a challenge for modern construction networks. The data is no longer centralized, or even on premise much of the time. Data for a specific job is stored in the trailer, at HQ, on laptop hard drives, in the cloud, with a multitude of software providers, and with third party contractors. Construction IT leaders are now faced with securing a variety of systems, sites, and datapoints. Many of which are not under the IT department’s control.
The technology and network shift helps construction workers become more productive, collaborate and tackle more complex projects. The problem is, if your networks are not secure, crucial data can get hacked, preventing you to get the job done and resulting in major fines. For more information on how to make sure you have a secure network, contact us today.