Many projects are shutting down or working with reduced staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Add to that the well-documented existing worker shortage and work risks falling behind schedule as uncertainty about the future looms.

While seemingly dire, technology is enabling organizations to continue some operations and keep projects on track.

Organizations are adopting new solutions to maintain a level of business operations and to keep their workers employed without putting them at risk. There is also a chance for organizations to put in place an approach to minimize disruption from the next crisis—whenever it might occur–and that’s one reason why construction technology is increasingly important.

No access, no problem

While construction is an essential business in many places, access to some jobsites remains limited, hampering progress and making it challenging to make informed decisions.

Using a laser scanner to create a point cloud shows the facility as-installed and can easily be shared as a lightweight mesh model. The model—a “digital twin” of the site—can be compared to the planned installation in a building information model.

With a digital twin, crews can make informed decisions using up-to-date information while working remotely. Reality capture solutions—such as laser scanningmobile mapping, and UAV systems—allow a single person or a small crew to quickly collect measurable data and help the whole team make informed decisions.

Data protects everyone

Providing cloud access to information provides stakeholders with an accurate view of reality, crucial for organizations turning hotels, dormitories, or convention centers into temporary hospitals, and for visualizing the prior state for restoring them to their original uses.

While teams need trustworthy information now, longer-term, this data helps eliminate trips to the jobsite, accelerating a fuller range of decisions, and ensuring integrity through rich, easily-accessed reality data. Beyond informing decisions, data also helps teams justify invoices and eliminate over-payments for progress to date.

Prepare for the future

Right now, information is fluid, and it’s unclear whether sites will be required to operate with limited staff even after the world returns to “normal” or whether organizations may accelerate the adoption of lean construction principles that minimize crew overlaps to maintain momentum.

The silver lining is the opportunity to be intentional about using 3D data, embracing the role of BIM (building information modeling), and managing crews with a better eye toward spatial interaction, which may continue to play a significant role after this pandemic subsides.

Tapping into reality data is a powerful tool to quickly onboard crews—whether existing or supplemental—and replacement resources. When jobsites reopen, some workers may be unavailable, and teams will have to train new crews and personnel and get them up to speed quickly while acknowledging sites could shut down again at any time.

It’s critical to maintain open communication because projects are evolving, the pipeline of new projects is altered, and organizations may encounter supply chain disruptions. The goal is to maintain business continuity while putting in place processes to emerge stronger and prepared for what’s ahead.

Matt Wheelis is a global business development leader for Buildings & Construction in the Geosystems division of Hexagon AB. His responsibilities include strategy formation, partnership development, and driving M&A activity. A veteran of the construction technology industry, his accomplishments include establishing job-cost control in the cloud and advancing multiple SaaS (software-as-a-service) and cloud, mobile, and BIM solutions for construction. Learn more here – www.linkedin.com/in/mattwheelis/