Computer Aided Design (CAD) involves the use of computers in the construction industry to perform design jobs. ICT is widely used in the construction industry due to the several advantages that it has over the manual applications. Information technology involves the use of hardware, software and liveware that work together in order to store, retrieve and manipulate data in a computer system. The main purpose of an IT system is to process data and give out the results as information. Information technology is very useful in the day to day activities of human life. ICT is being utilized in almost every field of human life. Many people who are technophobia tend to shy away from ICT since they view it as expensive and hard to use. This has made the overall utilization of ICT to be low (Robert et al 2008). However, incorporating ICT in the operations in a firm will eventually make work easier and save on the costs of operations. The use of ICT in the construction industry is increasing every year and has a significant impact on the total project cost. (Ching , 2008 pp 60-73)
It is essential to adopt the use of ICT in the construction industry so as to boost the capabilities of a company. Many people are aware about the use of ICT but are not implementing it because of the high cost of investments involved in adopting the ICT. Another problem facing the implementation of ICT in companies also involve standardization as many companies use different types of software which are not interoperable. (Ching , 2008 pp 86-94)
Problems facing the use of ICT in a construction Industry
1. Standardization – many different companies use software from different developers which have different standards which are not interoperable. The software cannot be used together with other software in different computers from different companies. (Roberts, 2008).
2. Cost – the cost of setting up an ICT system is relatively high. It becomes very expensive and a stretch to a company’s budget especially when dealing with a small company.
3. Lack of knowledge – this has been a barrier especially when dealing with illiterate personnel. There will be a lot of resources which will be spent in trying to train the employees and also informing them on the importance of ICT and how its implementation can help in the company’s operation. (Roberts, 2008).
4. Limitations of software functionality – Some of the software cannot operate in some machines. Some software are also designed to perform just a specific task and cannot be reused.
5. Justification of ICT in industry suffering from low profit margins – When dealing with a com[any which has low returns, implementation of ICT may not be very viable as they may not be in a position to implement the use of ICT and at the same time have reasonable returns from the earnings (Roberts, 2008).
Advantages/Benefits of ICT in the Construction Industry.
a) Improve operational efficiency – this will ensure that the work done is accurate and a good return ratio realized (Roberts, 2008).
b) Improve quality –The quality of the work will also be high as less mistakes are realized due to the improved efficiency of the overall work.
c) Reduce project time – the ICT makes work easier and more work can be done within a shorter duration of time.
d) Increase profit levels – since there will be more work done and better quality achieved profits for the firm is also likely to increase.
e) Makes complex work easier to perform: This is because of the high computing power found in computers which enable them perform complex tasks at a very high speed.
f) Enhances public image: The use of ICT in performing operations makes them easily trustable due to the accuracy thus removing any doubt on the results produced by the company (Roberts, 2008).
g) Facilitates decision making: This can be achieved through the use of DSS (Decision Support Systems) which helps in making decisions in the firm.
h) Quicker access of information: ICT enables real time access to information within the firm. The information can be easily shared throughout the firm using networking equipments. This will eventually save the cost of transporting information throughout the company.
i) Enabling Interoperability: ICT creates a common information infrastructure which helps in equipment management due to the interoperable platform for different types of equipment.
j) Scalability: Using ICT can make it possible to have a model of the overall work scaled down. The model can then be used as a pilot project to determine the viability of the work to be carried out. If the work looks promising then larger scales of the same project can be implemented.
k) Improved coordination: ICT can be used to enhance coordination in the construction industry. External players in the construction industry can also be easily managed through the use of ICT in the firm (Roberts, 2008 pp 102).
l) Customer relationship management: ICT can be used to monitor and manage the constant change in the customer demands. The use of ICT can help in making decisions whenever there is a change in the customer demands thus maintaining the constant regular relationships with the customers.
Properly established ICT implementation can boost the overall earnings in a construction industry.
Current tools of ICT
a) Multimedia applications –these involves the use of 3D buildings and simulation of the building processes. These ideas are highly utilized in the construction industry as they help in laying down the expectations that may exist before an actual construction is done.
Training employees using the multimedia presentations can help in giving a proper understanding of the actual construction activity (Roberts, 2008).
b) Digital product catalogues and e-procurement – this helps in facilitating the use of e-commerce which has several advantages in terms of acquisition of knowledge and materials. This aspect makes the overall work of procurement easy and business establishments can easily acquire the materials they need without any physical involvement which is usually expensive and time consuming (Allen 2008a)
c) Computer Aided Design (CAD) – This involves, building a system which has automatic capabilities in the construction design. The types of design made using this technology are usually very effective.
d) Mobile information – this involves the use of mobile systems to convey information to different parts of the construction work. This system of communication is very useful as most of the construction personnel are involved in movement during the construction work. Without this system of communication, relaying information could be very expensive and inconveniencing. (Allen 2008a).
Emerging ICT tools
a) Knowledge management (KM) – This involves the transfer of knowledge between different teams involved in a project (Allen 2008a).
b) Electronic Document Management (EDM) – This majorly involves the handling of documents in electronic format. It saves on the cost for handling the documents.
c) E-business – helps in providing remote consultation services to contractors without having any form of physical interaction. (Allen 2008b)
Some of the common uses of ICT in the construction industry include:
a) Word processing – This is used to produce document in the company. The documents can range from memos to short reports in the company.
b) Internet communication – This involves the long distance communication and acquisition of information from different parts of the world. It may also involve online procurement or online advertisement. (Allen 2008a)
c) Costing – The overall work of costing can be estimated through the use of ICT. This can be done through price comparison and then determining the overall cost of a given work.
d) Accounting – there are several accounting software which can be used in a construction company. The accounting software can be used for the preparation of payments for the different people working in a company or carrying out several accounting operations in the company.
e) Design – through the use of CAD, several designs can be done by using software such as AutoCAD which are very efficient in the production of designs.
Some of the areas where government reports and best practice guides suggest ICT could/should be implemented are very many. ICT should be implemented in almost all areas of life. The use of ICT has increased greatly in the recent past. ICT should be implemented in the construction industry especially in the financial sector and the design sector. The use of ICT in the financial sector speeds up the rate of processing financial documents and statements in the company thus saving on time. Using ICT in the financial department of a firm also ensures accurate processing of information. Other areas where ICT should be implemented in the construction industry is the design section.
This will help in the production of quality and accurate designs. Such designs are very efficient as they are easy to use and they are produced within a very short time as compared to the manual production of designs (Ching , 2008 pp 65-73).
Factors affecting the adoption of ICT
i. Size of the firm: Small firms usually do not employ the use of ICT to a large scale due to the small amount of returns they get from their operations.
ii. Age of the firm: Older firms tend to experiment the use of ICT if it can improve the performance of activities in the firm. (Ching , 2008 pp 78)
iii. Ownership of the firm: Most foreign firms use ICT in their operations whereas firms owned indigenously do not employ the use of ICT to a large extent.
iv. Academic qualification of the CEO: Semi-illiterate CEOs are usually technophobia and are likely to be very reluctant in trying to implement the use of ICT in their operation.
v. Customer demands: The customers’ demands can make a company use ICT in their operations especially in case of speed in performing the operations of the firm.
vi. Technological demands: The constant change in technology can force a firm to try the implementation of ICT (Roberts 2008)
vii. Availability of power: Lack of power can make a company not to implement the use of ICT as ICT is always power dependent.
Impact of the new technology on the company’s supply chain.
ICT is the major enabler of supply chain management due to its support on information sharing. Using ICT to manage the supply chain can be very effective as shown below. Implementation of the new technology helps in improving the coordination in the supply chain thus ensuring a constant supply chain. ICT can impact the supply chain in the following ways:
i. IT on purchasing: The use of e-commerce has made the processes involved in purchasing very easy. This has been achieved through purchasing items online thus ensuring a constants supply is maintained. (Ching et al 2008).
ii. IT on operation: IT has made inventory management easier and less costly. It has also made the process of production scheduling easier and more efficient.
iii. IT on logistic: This one involves the management of transportation system during the acquisition of commodities. Using IT to mange this has proved to be very efficient and effective (Ching et al 2008).
iv. IT on customer relationship: ICT enables the company focus on proper customer satisfaction as there is always a timely and effective delivery of commodities and services.
v. IT on vendor relationship: Using ICT helps in maintaining a closer buyer-seller relationship which has a very big impact in the overall operation of the company’s supply chain.
vi. IT on firm: Using ICT helps in marinating a proper scheduling of activities in the firm. With proper coordination and scheduling of tasks, the operation of the firm is properly maintained (Ching et al 2008).
vii. IT provides an infrastructure for communicating with the participants of the supply chain.
viii. ICT provides for new distribution channel. This open several avenue for the supply chain participants.
ix. ICT provides a platform on which e-procurement can take place. This ensures that the supply chain is properly maintained.
x. ICT enables faster and easier collaboration of the participants of the Supply chain
xi. ICT supports integration and coordination of Supply chain participants (Ching et al 2008).
Work cited List
1. Ching, DK 1998, ‘Building Construction Illustrated’ Wiley Publishers.
2. Roberts JT 2008, ‘Introduction to AutoCAD 2005’ Wiley Publishers.
3. Yoon SC, Harris M & Howard DR 2007, ‘Evolution of Supply Chain’ Wiley Publishers.
4. Allen E & Iano J 2008a, ‘Exercises in Building Construction’ Wiley Publishers .
5. Allen E & Iano J 2008b, Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods. Wiley Publishers.
6. Ching D.K Barry O& Douglas Z, 2008, ‘Building Structures Illustrated: Patterns, Systems and Design’ Wiley Publishers.
7. Management: Symbiosis of Adaptive Value Networks and ICT. Springer 2004