From safety-focused smart devices to VR headsets to time tracking software, technology to support the construction industry is accelerating faster than ever. Venture capital is following construction technology as well, with $6.1 billion invested into the space in 2018 alone. While all these advances are exciting in their own right, it’s important to separate the “must-have” technologies with the “nice-to-have” items prior to investing a large share of your cash in them.

With 2020 on the horizon, here’s a list of the technology you need across your job sites, along with those technical advances to keep a close eye on in the future.

1. BIM

Defined, BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a process that enables professionals in construction, architecture and engineering to more efficiently and effectively plan, design and construct various types of infrastructure. The process uses 3D models so teams can better visualize and manage projects from start to finish. Additionally, most BIM tools are cloud-based, so they provide users across different departments with real-time project updates—allowing them to collaborate seamlessly with contractors, stakeholders and more. This can lead to faster project deliveries and an overall reduction of job site errors.

If your company is still using paper for modeling, it may be time to make the switch over to digital. To start, you can check out a service like Autodesk, Tekla BIMSight, Revit or a different BIM software provider.

2. Time tracking and scheduling software

Between buddy punching, hour-rounding or other types of time theft, paper time cards are chipping away at your company’s bottom line. With time tracking and scheduling software, you can save money by keeping your workers accountable, not to mention time that would otherwise be spent manually combing through punch cards.

Time tracking solutions like ExakTime ensures your employees are on site when they clock in, on time for their scheduled shifts and are working for as long as their time card says they are. We know you can’t be everywhere all at once—but ExakTime’s GPS-powered mobile app and photo ID verification ensures you have a handle on what’s really happening at your job sites. Time tracking and scheduling software also helps you increase profits, streamline payroll and stay compliant with safety and wage laws.

Between buddy punching, hour-rounding or other types of time theft, paper time cards are chipping away at your company’s bottom line.

3. Project management software

Having a clear roadmap of tasks and priorities is a critical part of running a successful construction project. Staying on task day after day over the duration of construction projects—some of which may take years to complete—is no easy accomplishment. In fact, KPMG found that just one-quarter of construction projects come within 10% of their original deadlines. This is why project management software like the solutions offered by Procore or BuilderTrend have zoomed forward in popularity over the past few years. With the software, project managers are able to keep their crews on track, and easily communicate with other decision makers to provide real-time updates—increasing overall productivity on the construction site.

4. Wearables

One of the most exciting areas of construction-related tech is wearables. With the help of smart hardware, startups around the world are making construction sites safer and less susceptible to accidents and injuries. An example is Spot-r, a device created by Triax Technologies. Construction workers attach the Spot-r clip to their belt buckles upon arrival at a construction site. Once in place, Spot-r enables managers to access real-time activity data on workers wearing Spot-r, such as fall detection, employee location (by floor and area) and more—allowing for an overall safer job site.

Between construction helmets with cooling capabilities and work boots with GPS tracking technology, there’s a lot more in the world of construction wearables to be excited about, but the Spot-r clip is a great place to start in 2020.

On the horizon

There’s also a handful of new and innovative technologies in the construction industry that aren’t quite market-ready, but will likely hit the mainstream in the near future. One of those technologies is AR (augmented reality) goggles, which can be used for everything from project estimations to safety training to viewing on-site project information like calendars and material lists. One company already offering AR construction solutions is SmartReality. Another highly anticipated technology that’s gaining momentum in construction is drone usage from companies like Propeller. With drones, construction companies would be able to better map job sites, receive accurate aerial data, seamlessly measure progress and more.