The cloud is already widely adopted within the construction industry; however, for companies that are still considering it and for those whose use is limited, here, we look at seven important benefits it provides.
1. Cost savings
Every penny matters in the construction industry, so the cloud’s ability to help companies work more efficiently and effectively is one of its chief attractions. Savings come in multiple forms. From an IT perspective, the move to the cloud and to a vendor’s infrastructure reduces the company’s need to run in-house datacentres that require expensive cap-ex investment in hardware and the ongoing datacentre costs. The scalability of the cloud, together with its pay-as-you-go charging model provides further opportunities for efficient usage.
Additional savings also come from using the cloud to monitor operations. Combining data analytics with artificial intelligence yields insights into business processes that invariably throw up more efficient ways to run businesses and thus reduce costs without affecting quality.
2. Access information from anywhere at anytime
In the cloud, all your data is stored centrally and is available online, regardless of where your teams are or what time. This makes it incredibly easy for employees to collaborate and access the most up-to-date, synchronised files.
This is highly beneficial for construction companies as the very nature of their projects means they are working on sites away from the office. It also makes it much easier for employees working on large sites or projects with multiple sites to get hold of the information they need.
3. More competitive bidding
While cost savings help improve the bottom line, they also help construction companies to be more competitive when bidding for new projects. By using cloud-based business intelligence, they will have a more detailed prediction of the project’s costs, a better understanding of component availability and can give a more accurate indication of other influential factors, such as the environmental impact of their work or how energy efficient the completed project will be. All these can help make the bid more attractive to potential customers.
4. Manage growth better
Opportunities are everywhere in the construction industry, but the nature of the sector means companies need to be clear about those which are right for their business. Today, when researching new market segments or territories, organisations are increasingly making use of cloud-based analytics to evaluate a wide range of internal and external indicators that give them a clearer picture of the challenges and advantages of these potential expansions.
5. Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Today, the construction industry is making far greater use of Building Information Modelling – a process that results in the development of a centrally stored project model that can be accessed, shared and updated by all parties. Based in the cloud, the BIM enables the company to collaborate with all stakeholders, including planners, designers, suppliers, those from other disciplines and other construction companies taking part in the project. By clarifying the exact project for everyone, this removes uncertainty and thus helps overcome budget, timescale and supply challenges while reducing the potential for conflict between the different parties.
6. Improve employee safety
Construction sites and the materials and machines used can be inherently hazardous and this makes employee safety one of the chief concerns of any company. Increasingly, organisations are looking at how cloud-based solutions can help minimise risk even further. Using the cloud enables companies to simplify and centralise the reporting of incidents over the internet, share data with collaborators and suppliers and then analyse that data to provide safety insights and develop new safety procedures and equipment more speedily for use on sites.
When predictive tools are used, this can then help companies better understand the safety risks of each new project, enabling them to put improved measures into place during the planning stage rather than as a reaction to an incident that happens once construction work has begun. It also helps factor safety into the price and timescale of the project.
7. More effective communications
The number of people involved in a construction project can be vast and includes not just the company but the customer, architects and planners, suppliers, sub-contractors and other construction companies. Keeping everyone in the loop and up to speed is vital to keep the project on schedule and budget, and to ensure that issues are dealt with swiftly and effectively.
Cloud-based communication systems make this far easier and quicker to do and ensure that communications can be accessed and traced more effectively. What’s more, rather than having to send copies of files in email attachments that can quickly go out of date, attaching links to files stored centrally in the cloud means information accessed will always be synchronised and up to date.
Construction companies have a lot to gain from using the cloud and there are many ways in which it can benefit. The biggest advantage, however, for those who have yet to adopt, is that doing so will put you on par with the majority that have already begun to make the leap as part of their digital transformation.