Digital transformation, for those unfamiliar with the term, is just the process by which companies adopt digital technologies to improve their business practices. Over the decades computers, smartphones and various software programs have revolutionized the way workers work, collaborate and communicate. Now, Artificial Intelligence seems to be the next step forward.
But digital transformation has come slowly to the mechanical contracting industry. Most workers are not sitting at a computer in an office, but out in the field using their hands and tools. The construction site has proved a hazardous place for delicate items like tablets and laptops. Many contracting company owners are reluctant to invest in new technology and processes, preferring to stick with methods that are dependable, familiar, and have stood the test of time.
But, little by little, the digital world is making inroads. From the back office comes new software for dispatch, scheduling, system design and project management. From manufacturers and architects comes Building Information Modeling with all its advantages for clash resolution, project staging and commissioning. From building owners and facility managers comes a demand for rich data on energy use, water efficiency, occupant comfort and more.
Through digital transformation, contractors stand to gain huge benefits in productivity, workplace safety and profitability. But transformation is never without its challenges. We hope the articles collected here will give contractors some idea of what to expect, and some help in navigating their own digital transformations.