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Impact of Construction Technology on America’s Infrastructure Bill

Impact of Construction Technology on America’s Infrastructure Bill

Mark Schwartz is the Chief Digital Officer at Trimble, recently wrote an article for Forbes stating how President Biden recently published the “America’s Jobs Plan,” which intends to invest trillions into the nation’s infrastructure in a crusade to spur employment, repair the country’s aging public works and build out new, more flexible infrastructure. While many aspects of the bill still require to be laid out in more detail and approved by Congress, it’s evident that technology will be a primary tenant in aiding the execution of the bill, as well as one of the causes it is so badly needed. Unbeknownst to most, bigger construction projects are promoted thanks to innovative technology supporting workers in completing projects more productively, sustainably, and for a cheaper cost. Called “connected construction,” this technology utilizes a mixture of hardware, software, and services to consolidate people, processes, and conditions.

If widely adopted by contractors, it could result in construction productivity additions of 14 to 15% and cost decreases of 4 to 6%, according to McKinsey, while reducing carbon emissions by investing greater visibility and transparency in how projects are executed from start to finish and also lowering the cost and stretching taxpayer dollars further.

At the same time, reduction of technological progress is largely why an investment in infrastructure is so required in the first place. Unlike China, which recently unveiled a $1.4 trillion plan for technology infrastructure that will build out the country’s 5G wireless networks, cloud computing services, and artificial intelligence (AI), or South Korea, which announced its own Green New Deal focused on developing renewable energy, green infrastructure, and the industrial area, the U.S. hasn’t implemented a major infrastructure bill since the Eisenhower period.

But how exactly would coherent construction technology be implemented should the infrastructure bill pass, and why should taxpayers care? Below are a few high-level examples of how technology could accelerate projects in America’s Job Plan and how our nation could benefit as a result.

The infrastructure bill includes $621 billion to upgrade bridges, highways, roads, and main streets in dire need of repair; build a new national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030, and provide investments in public transit and passenger and freight rail service.

When you think of these projects, you likely envision hardhats moving major mechanical tools around, along with jackhammers, excavators, and the like. You won’t actually “see” the technology making it happen, including innovative hardware and software that interconnects to enable each project to be accurately planned, designed, managed, constructed, and eventually turned over to its partners. However, companies must ensure that their employees can utilize this type of technology, which has been accomplished by presenting college students with the latest hardware and software solutions and hitting local unions to train workers during their apprenticeships.

America’s Job Plan also incorporates $418 billion to upgrade and build more affordable and sustainable housing, public schools and community colleges, childcare amenities, laboratories, veterans hospitals, medical clinics, and federal buildings.

Data is the adhesive behind all major large-scale construction projects, helping companies discover that a specific piece of equipment is operating properly to transmitting job site data from the field to the office through complicated enterprise resource systems (ERP), which manage everything from the timeline to labor hours to invoicing — healing provide transparency for projects from beginning to end.

When construction on a new medical clinic begins, the whole process could be tracked using an ERP system that provides employees in the field and the office with the same real-time data. This enables a contractor to quickly see if they’re over resources or running behind schedule, helping them make any significant tweaks to get the project back on track and reducing rework, which can cost upwards of 20% of a project’s budget. When aggregated across thousands of projects, this equates to major savings.

The American Jobs Plan will infuse much-needed funds into our aging infrastructure and revitalize significant employment across the country. To realize the full advantages of the many projects that result from the investment, construction technologies can execute a big role by reducing costs while enhancing output, availing the taxpayer and our country as a whole.

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