The Future Is Now: Key Innovations Reshaping the Design-to-construction Supply Chain

The commercial construction industry is falling behind in the innovation race, and it’s hurting the sector. Doing things the way they’ve always been done isn’t going to cut it in the modern marketplace, as the e-commerce space continues to grow and tech-savvy Gen Xers and Millennials take on more leadership positions. 
Now’s the time for leading construction executives to dust off their critical thinking caps, challenge the status quo, and understand how the technology revolution can help businesses, not hinder it. 
For example, the traditional design-to-construction supply chain is inefficient, complicated and expensive. 
The era of physical catalogs, brick-and-mortar distribution centers, and reliance on wholesaler support is evolving in the age of online consumerism, and rightfully so. 
Think about how the supply chain works today:
  1. The owner/developer commissions a new project.
  2. The architect creates concept and design.
  3. The engineer defines product specifications.
  4. The general contractor constructs the project and hires sub trades to perform the work.
  5. The sub trades handle procurement and complete the product install.
  6. The wholesale distributor sells products, manages inventory and receivables.
  7. The manufacturer representative provides product support and material quotes.
  8. The manufacturer handles forecasting, production, inventory and logistics.
With so many steps and so many players involved, it’s no wonder the traditional supply chain is riddled with selection and configuration blunders, error-filled product schedules, and expensive delays. 
While economists are optimistic about where the industry is trending, Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu says “contractors should be wary and remain vigilant with respect to cash flow management and balance sheet health during the year ahead. The average contractor is likely to be quite busy in 2019, but beyond that, the economic outlook is decidedly murky.” 
With financial uncertainty looming, best-in-class construction companies are wise to welcome technologies ability to improve the bottom line by transforming today’s supply chain quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
Online consumer recruitment and e-commerce have shaken up the industrial marketplace, resulting in industry professionals veering away from traditional purchasing pathways and towards online solutions that help make business more efficient and profitable. 
Imagine the convenience of:
  • Being able to select, specify, and purchase highly engineered products from a self-serving e-commerce portal, whenever and wherever it is most convenient;
  • Having increased visibility of parts and equipment from multiple manufacturers, regardless of wholesaler support;
  • Receiving discounted pricing on commercial grade equipment and parts;
  • Reducing configuration errors with AI-driven tools that increase specification and selection accuracy;
  • Creating error-free integrated construction equipment schedules that keep projects on time and on budget;
  • Having access to a designated account manager armed with product expertise, full purchase history and lead time knowledge; and
  • Products being shipped quickly and arriving safe and sound, on time and in one piece.
These innovative solutions not only exist in the market today, but they’re growing in popularity among industry professionals—informing purchasing decisions, reducing errors, and enabling more immediate turn-around times. As contractors move into their next round of discussions on lean management and budget efficiencies, they should consider reducing the complexity of the current supply chain by incorporating online purchasing solutions.