Is a Lack of Standards Hurting Construction Technology Adoption?

By on August 13, 2019

From Jobsite Procore:  The construction industry has historically lagged most industries when it comes to productivity, which costs companies revenue and growth opportunities. A key component to boosting productivity is maximizing worker output, something technology has had a significant impact on as the industry has slowly moved into adopting technology.

Still, skepticism of technology still persists in construction, and part of the continued lack of tech adoption could be due to a lack of cohesive, industry-wide standards around how technology is tested and implemented. Part of the challenge in establishing better standards is the fragmentation of Construction. According to The Economist, fewer than 5% of construction employees work for a company with more than 10,000 workers. That means the vast majority of industry professionals work for small- or medium-sized firms, many of which have their own vocabularies and their own sets of standards.

“Lacking a commonly accepted set of terms and definitions places the responsibility squarely on early adopters to learn how to navigate between developer’s descriptions, claims, and marketing materials,” noted a recent article in Forbes in explaining the slow uptake of wearable exoskeleton technology in construction.

“But it doesn’t end there. Without standards, how wearables for the workplace are evaluated and how the evaluation is described is also chaotic,” they wrote.

This can be said about nearly any phase of a new product or technology’s adoption. Product testing standards ensure an acceptable level of performance before it reaches the market, but even those fundamentals are missing from many new pieces of technology.

“With a lack of standards in both terminology and test methodology, it is extremely difficult to pool device performance test data together. The test environment, ambient conditions, selected tasks, user, duration, measurement methodology (when and how data is recorded), etc… could all have a significant effect on the test conclusions,” Forbes writes.

“Without any standards, combining data for the same product family becomes challenging.”

Construction is also inherently complex. The sheer variety of scope and scale of projects under its purview, from simple road projects to building bridges and boring tunnels underground, make unified standards difficult to establish. As a result, adopting new technology carries more risk than it would in an environment where testing and usage guidelines were clearly laid out.

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