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How technology is changing the home builder's construction site

Date:
By Steve Parish
Category: Announcements

 

There's no substitute for human ingenuity and precision, but new technologies in Australia are driving productivity for many of HIA’s top 100 residential builders.

 

Before we elaborate, it's important to note that technology is a tool: it requires investment and there must be a return on that investment (ROI). To gain a timely ROI, technology needs to tick the following boxes

 

  • Technologies must be well-integrated across the organisation,

  • Technologies must be supported by innovation,

  • There must be a measurable gain in productivity.

 

Below are some of the more exciting technologies that are in the industry now or are not far off.

 

Delighting the customer

 

Understanding and delighting customers throughout their journey in building their dream home is paramount to a modern successful residential home builder. An effective Customer Experience should include online selections, 3D selections modelling and a customer portal. This eliminates the need for dozens of product brochures, reduces significant time for the customer and, for sales staff, saves time in product selections and costing.

 

It also greatly enhances customer interaction and allows customers to view the progress of their construction project.

 

Cloud storage

 

Cloud computing is taken for granted by some people and feared by others. In simple terms, it refers to data storage and access to applications through secure third party servers (not through on-premises servers).

 

This technology has great benefits for businesses, namely savings in IT infrastructure plus more efficient maintenance, innovation and access to more applications. At the very least, cloud computing is ideal for backing up files and data.

 

Automation

 

Other technologies are poised to change the home building industry by automating certain jobs to improve productivity.

 

One example is a robotic bricklayer prototype by Fastbrick Robotics that's helping to pave the way to a more efficient and safer industry. Another is 3D printing, with many prefabricated buildings already being created in this way in China, UAE and other countries. A study by CSQ and CSIRO predicts that Australia's prefabricated building market will grow by 5% year-on-year up to 2023, compared to 2.3% for construction overall.

 

All this advanced technology doesn't mean robots are "stealing" Aussie jobs. It just means that priorities will change, and there will be a quantum shift in work force skills. The next generation of construction workers will have new roles such as building assembly technician, drone operator, robot resource manager and virtual reality trainer.

 

Fully integrated software solutions

 

Effective software solutions for home builders need to be relatively easy to use, relevant to the home building industry, integrated across all functions and departments, and be well supported.

 

Software for builders should also provide crucial live time information such as:

 

  • The jobs that are currently in construction (and what stage they are at)

  • On time billing, triggered by on-site actions

  • Managing the margins per job throughout the full job cycle

  • Predictable schedule to ensure on-time completion, on budget and to customer requirements

  • Status of contractors, supplies and resources crucial to the build

 

One of the biggest software issues builders have is that they use multiple separate systems - a series of disjointed software applications across different functions, implemented at different times with different objectives.

 

For example, a company may use a finance system, a CRM, white boards, an estimates program and a series of individually maintained spreadsheets. In a building company that starts 50 or more homes a year, this disparity is a killer of productivity, margins, customer satisfaction and quality.

 

This can all be simplified by introducing an effective integrated home building industry software solution with purpose-designed modules taking care of all aspects of business, from sales and quotations through to estimates, project management, payroll and more. Integration means an automatic flow of data through each stage of the customer’s journey, less time spent double-entering data and more information flowing to your customer.

 

An example of effective integrated software for a builder could be a BusinessCraft Software suite incorporating Sales Leads, Contracts, Accounting and Finance, Estimating, Bill of Quantities, Asset Management, Dashboards, Reporting, Customer Portal and Building Supervisors updating on their mobile device while in the field.

 

To find out more about residential building industry software, call BusinessCraft on 02 4965 5555.