Compared to other long-term business ventures, construction lags far behind in increased productivity, ranking only 1% more productive than it was in 1962. Retailers, financial institutions, hotels and entertainment, and transportation are among the many industries to see dramatic changes in the decade as they have embraced and invented new technologies. But, in the past thirty years, construction has seen productivity increases in the low single digits.
But that’s not for lack of trying. Venture capitalists are opening their wallets to fund new companies that are trying to break through the tired and staid state of construction. CBInsights has calculated that $169 million in disclosed funding has been issued in at least 25 deals in 2017 alone.
“In particular,” CBInsights said, “we have seen a surge in the applications of mobile and cloud technologies, AI and robotics, AR/VR, and CAD software toward the construction industry.”
Among the companies that have received funding are ProCore Technologies, who has instituted a cloud-based project management system. Other collaboration startups include Alice Technologies, leveraging BIM (Building Information Modeling) to optimize construction scheduling, and Building Connected, which hopes to make waves in the big management space.
In other marketplaces, Equipment Share has raised $34 million in funding for their service. Architizer, an online architecture database, has been fundraising, and Work Today seeks to connect workers to job via SMS.
In the more futuristic arena, 3D Robotics has raised $179 million to fund its drone program, providing airborne intelligence. IrisVR has a suite of virtual reality tools for the architectureand design industries, and Endless Robotics has developed a robotic solution to paint and seal walls.
Onshape is the first big company to embrace 3D CAD (computer aided drafting), receiving $169 million in funding.
Perhaps one of the most exciting is Katerra, a company that promise to take a project through the design-bid-build process by better harnessing supply chain and employing robotics. The California-based startup has already raised a quarter of a million dollars.
Many more companies are filling blue-ocean arenas, with the hope that the construction industry can rise out of the productivity quagmire, with more new companies in Risk Mangagment, Compliance and Security, Data and Analytics, and Financial Management.
hh2 is also stretching to fit an unfulfilled need in construction productivity, through our on-the-job-site cloud-based field reports, and our time-entry/remote payroll products. Our partnership with Timberscan allows for mobile invoice approval, all to take the headache out of dealing with paperwork back at the office or job trailer. We also offer HR, time-entry, and field reports.
The world of construction is changing, and not just because a few gimmicky companies are building houses with 3D printing. There is real change to streamline the traditional construction process. We don’t have robots swinging a hammer—yet—but all of these softwares are designed to bring ease to the job supervisors, payroll managers, and project planners.