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Technologies being introduced to the construction industry have the potential to assist contractors with addressing pain points on construction sites; but, knowing which ones to invest in can be challenging.

In this exclusive interview with Construction Executive, Mark Nowakowski, assistant vice president, risk control at Travelers, discusses technology ROI and where your company should get started.

Construction Executive: Are most innovative technologies worth the investment?
Mark Nowakowski:
Many of the innovative technologies available for contractors can help enhance efficiencies, improve worker safety and more. No solution, however, is one-size-fits-all, and any implementation can bring its own challenges.

That’s why it’s important to research how a particular technology will support specific company goals and objectives and to ask other companies that have implemented these solutions for feedback. In addition, make sure to confirm that you will have the necessary resources and buy-in to effectively add new systems, manage them and test the technology before making the investment.

CE: Which types of technology should a contractor prioritize?
MN:
As I mentioned, every contractor or project has different needs, so there isn’t one correct answer. Some of the biggest challenges that our customers are trying to address with the help of technology include worker safety, fleet management and property losses, such as those from water leaks. So, we’re seeing more contractors gravitating toward those types of solutions.

A few examples we’ve seen include:

  • Wearables, which can help address and identify at-risk or potentially injury-inducing behaviors, including fatigue and fall detection. Wearables can also identify when employees are in restricted areas and alert project management teams of a hazardous situation or personal injury that requires immediate attention.
  • Telematics and onboard monitoring systems, which can help contractors improve the safety and operational efficiencies of their fleets. Managers can use data from telematics to help identify unsafe driving habits, optimize routes and workflows as well as remotely diagnose mechanical problems.
  • Water sensors with automated technology that provide constant surveillance and real-time notifications of water flow on a jobsite, and give the project team the option to shut off the water valve remotely at any time. These systems can be set for off-hours surveillance with automatic shutoff when flow is detected. These technology tools help keep jobsites dry and prevent costly project delays stemming from water loss. 

CE: What technology for contractors isn’t worth implementing?
MN:
It’s not worth implementing a solution that doesn’t address a specific business challenge, so a solution may be worthwhile for one contractor and not for another.

From a risk management perspective, we suggest technology investments that support a safety culture, can be utilized across the organization and improve processes.

CE: How should a company choose new technology?
MN:
We’ve noticed higher success with businesses that use a consistent approach that engages an experienced and technically skilled team in the early stages and selects a project that will impact more than one area of the business. This group can also call upon previous technology rollouts and flag potential challenges during the evaluation stage. And, since they have reviewed and are familiar with the technology, they can help promote the adoption and address any worker apprehension.

Evaluating and launching new technology can be time sensitive, and it’s easy to see why some organizations may skip over these important review considerations or opt to forgo implementing something new. It’s important to pair with companies that regularly evaluate emerging technologies, such as Travelers, so that contractors can have access to the most recent insights and make more informed decisions during their evaluations. 

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