Survey Identifies Current Construction Technology Trends

Emerging technologies include virtual reality, drones and Big Data

WALNUT CREEK, CA—January 28, 2016ARC Document Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: ARC) (“ARC”), a leading document and information management solutions provider for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, today announced the results of an industry survey that reveal participants’ views on emerging technologies, including Big Data, drones and the so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT). The top prediction, named by 65.3 percent of respondents, is that virtual reality applications will be used much more in the future to experience a building’s design before it is built.

Virtual reality in the construction industry is characterized by the creation and use of three-dimensional computerized modeling. Such models are used to facilitate project management, detect problems before actual construction occurs, design workflow sequencing, and to improve client interactions. The top benefits of virtual reality cited were:

  • Projects will be easier to visualize (51.9%)
  • Projects will be completed faster (48.3%)
  • Projects will require fewer workers (42.2%)
  • Projects will require less material (40.8%)

Another top technology trend, identified by 61.9 percent of the respondents, is the growing use of drones for surveying and for photo and video documentation. More than 60 percent (60.5 percent, specifically) recognized drones’ ability to help with mapping and surveying, inspection, and creating image-based records as their primary benefits. Close to half (49.7 percent) of the participants named improved surveillance and safety as the top benefit of drone use by AEC professionals.

Most AEC professionals predicted that the adoption of these new virtual reality and drone technologies will occur in the near future, with 64 percent stating that they are likely to be in common use within the next five to ten years.

According to survey findings, the future of the AEC industry will also be characterized by the absence of paper (38.1 percent) and the use of virtual technology to address not only two-dimensional drawing and three-dimensional modeling but also for project sequencing, cost estimating, sustainability, and facilities management, often referred to as a “7D” building process. While technology clearly has a dominant role in industry trends, only 4.8 percent of participants predicted that robots will replace workers in the future.

Over half (57.8 percent) predicted that design and development will become paperless in the next two to five years. Asked to identify the main reason behind the elimination of paper in the AEC industry, respondents named these factors:

  • Mobile/tablet technologies have replaced printed sets of drawings (43.5%)
  • The Building Information Model (BIM) helps design and construction teams resolve building problems without having to print numerous drawings (27.2%)
  • Project teams are more environmentally conscious (25.2%)

It is widely believed that removing paper in the industry will help diminish project over-runs. This was confirmed by survey respondents, who noted several beneficial results of reducing paper use, including:

  • Better communication between workers (58.5%)
  • Outdated data will no longer be shared (55.8%)
  • Changes will be easier to see as they are made (54.4%)

The AEC industry will also see increased use of IoT. According to ARC’s survey, the top benefit of IoT (defined as a network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity) will be to enable the collection and exchange of data on a job site. It will help industry professionals by:

  • Improving onsite / offsite equipment management (68.8%)
  • Pinpointing the reason behind a delay (50%)
  • Giving clear indicators of a project delay (31.3%)

Big Data is also very prominent on the AEC industry’s radar. The top advantages of Big Data, according to the respondents, are to help improve planning and decision-making by providing granular, real-time data about utilization and usage patterns, enabling project leaders and owners to improve demand forecasts as well as their future project progress monitoring. Top Big Data benefits mentioned by survey participants are the potential to:

  • Facilitate well-informed decision-making on a consistent basis (62.5%)
  • Improve urban planning decisions (50.0%)
  • Create reports on construction operations frequently and in real time (43.85%)

“The survey results confirm what we’re already seeing across this enormous and influential industry. Transformative technological change is well under way, and its adoption will only accelerate in the future,” said K. “Suri” Suriyakumar, Chairman, President and CEO of ARC Document Solutions. “These technologies will bring unprecedented collaboration, coordination and connectivity in the AEC industry, increasing efficiency, bringing down costs, and making the industry more competitive.”

About the AEC Future of Technology Study

The ARC Document Solutions AEC Future of Technology Study was conducted by research marketing company Newlio ( among a random sampling of 147 architecture, engineering and construction management professionals, using an email invitation and online survey. Executives were from both large enterprises of 1,000 people or more and small boutique firms of ten people or less.

About ARC Document Solutions

ARC Document Solutions (NYSE: ARC) is a leading document solutions company serving businesses of all types, with an emphasis on the non-residential segment of the architecture, engineering and construction industries. The company helps more than 90,000 customers reduce costs and increase efficiency in the use of their documents and improve document access and control and offers a wide variety of ways to print, produce and store documents. ARC provides its solutions onsite in more than 8,000 of its customers’ offices, offsite in service centers around the world, and digitally in the form of proprietary software and web applications. Please follow and engage with ARC on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Leave a Reply