Why is it important to stay current on construction trends every year? These trends give you valuable clues on what might be on the horizon. They can lead to opportunities or allow you to jump ahead of the competition by taking action first.
Change will happen. Even in the construction industry known for evolving at a slower pace than other industries. For instance, while many industries quickly progressed with technology, construction technology lagged.
Moreover, McKinsey and Company research divulges that productivity in construction lingers behind global economic productivity. Fortunately, this is changing because of the marked increase in departures with Baby Boomers retiring in droves. Stepping into their place are digital natives, which would be the millennials and Generation Z.
In writing the Construction Trends for 2020, little did anyone know the world was going to be turned upside down. It's been a tough year, to be sure. The good news is that construction is picking up and all signs say 2021 will be a good year.
A Deloitte survey of engineering and construction executives reports almost 70 percent of respondents say the business outlook for the industry is somewhat or very positive. Add to this, the two vaccines finding their way around the U.S., it'll give the industry a much-needed the shot in the arm.
Construction has been fortunate, for the most part, to survive during COVID-19. Other industries haven't been so lucky. Still, construction needs to think of ways to efficiently drive business and profits. Shortages of skilled workers and rising costs remain challenging. More than half of those who responded to the Commercial Construction Index state they struggle with finding qualified workers.
Additionally, close to 80 percent of those surveyed say they face steady or growing backlogs. The shortage and backlogs force more than half of the companies to increase spending on equipment and tools.
Countering the labor shortages and rising costs requires streamlining the construction processes and finding solutions for construction automation. These technologies can help cut costs and speed productivity. This gives construction companies the push to start making the investment in technology.
Moreover, a 2020 JBKnowledge ConTech survey of construction workers and contractors finds a whopping 92 percent of respondents use their phone at work every day. A good 83 percent use laptops and 65 percent rely on tablets. The time may be finally right to implement technology that can improve your business.
Here are the five trends to watch closely. Research them to see if they might help your construction business overcome challenges and beat the competition.
The business model will continue incorporating design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA) and offsite prefabrication. Construction companies will use this prefabricated approach to build repetitive structures such as apartments, hospital rooms, and offices. "Modular Construction Market" predicts this approach will reach $157 billion by 2023.
The possibility exists that it could exceed initial expectations thanks to the pandemic. The advantage of the modular approach is that it keeps worker density low. Prefab work occurs in giant spacious buildings that support social distancing.
These projects use equipment like conveyors, lifts, and ceiling cranes. This allows fewer workers to move larger modules. In addition to lower worker density, it conserves labor costs. Modular buildings have a double advantage in being affordable and temporary. While times remain highly uncertain, temporary structures tend to be a better option.
Once completed, the company sends the modules to the jobsite where the crew will put it together. This process saves on costs associated with longer working hours and weather delays. Modular designs recycle leftover materials to cut waste and make them more sustainable. It can completely change a business for the better.
Of course, safety is and always will be an important topic in construction. However, COVID-19 has changed the construction industry. Now, jobsites must consider cleaning protocols and processes on what to do when a worker becomes ill on the job.
"Construction workers are five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than their peers in other professions, according to a new study from the University of Texas at Austin researchers," writes Dom DiFurio in The Dallas Morning News.
"COVID-19 in Austin, Texas: Epidemiological Assessment of Construction Work" research paper appears in the peer-reviewed JAMA Network Open journal. In short, the report finds workers' chances of hospitalization increase eight-fold if construction sites don't implement the recommended safety precautions.
The results clearly state construction needs to refine its safety requirements and processes. These will not go away when the global crisis ends. They will remain in place to help workers avoid other contagious illnesses and stay healthier.
Construction companies are investing in technology that lowers worker density. For example, the use of cloud-based data management is growing. A study from Cite Research has learned 75 percent of construction companies use cloud storage.
Keeping data secure in the cloud allows employees to access the data from anywhere with most connected devices. To reduce the number of people on the construction site, some employees could work from home. They can also oversee the jobsite with remote video surveillance. This lets them see the action on the construction site.
Another benefit of video surveillance is that you can use it to conduct training on safety protocols. For instance, footage from video recordings can show employees how to properly disinfect tools and equipment.
Add to this, 58 percent of the executives responding to a Cisco survey say the pandemic has driven employees to embrace technology they had previously rejected.
A Markets and Markets report estimates the RFID market will be worth $10.7 billion in 2021 and $17.4 billion by 2026. The factors causing the RFID market to erupt include:
Companies need to monitor equipment performance and condition, system failures, defects in processes, and maintenance. RFID technology helps companies achieve this goal using a combination of RFID tags and sensors.
Construction companies attach RFID tags to moveable assets such as heavy machinery and workers' personal protective equipment (PPE). If a dozer or some other heavy equipment gets close to a worker, it can send a warning.
RFID also simplifies inventory tracking, checking-in, and checking-out process. Putting tags on equipment can also deter internal and external theft. If someone steals a tagged asset, the RFID can help track it.
Utility-scale solar players have experienced huge growth and expect to gain momentum during Biden's administration. Already, Biden has taken action to reverse some of the previous administration's dismantling of policies related to environmental protection.
Additionally, the International Renewable Energy Agency has released a report showing utility-scale solar costs have dropped drastically. Onshore and offshore wind costs have also fallen. Leaders in U.S. solar, wind, and storage industry associations have released their "Majority Renewables by 2030" plan. This outlines their vision for the decarbonization of the power sector.
Many companies have announced plans to focus on the environment and lowering carbon footprint. Clients want green building standards to achieve their carbon-cutting goals. This move demands construction companies to invest in sustainable construction.
Building Information Modeling continues to trend as more construction companies discover its value. Replacing CAD, BIM completely revamps the design and production process. Instead of drawings, BIM creates a model of the building in a virtual world. It helps construction, engineering, and architecture professionals effectively plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and their infrastructures.
It has the ability to model complex work processes and provide more details than 3D CAD, such as quantities and personnel requirements while integrating project management.
Designers can do practice runs to see how its different aspects would work. Sometimes referred to as Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), BIM can spot problems very early in the process long before breaking ground. The earlier you catch problems, the greater the cost savings.
BIM can get as detailed as displaying the HVAC system and running simulations to ensure it works. Designers can easily tweak the design virtually. As a result, BIM shortens construction time, removes the costs and time associated with making fixes while building, and provides far more details than 3D CAD.
Advances in construction technology and automation help workers do their jobs better. It will not replace them. Rather, technology will improve the collaboration of people and technology. Together, they will modernize construction productivity and boost safety.
One construction trend that isn't considered a trend is video monitoring. That's because video surveillance has been around for a long time and will stick around for many years to come. Security cameras put eyes on your entire construction site to help deter theft, vandalism, and trespassing. They can help mitigate liability issues, improve jobsite flow, and increase productivity.
Of course, no construction company should invest in a trend just because it's a trend. It's important to understand how the trend may affect business. If it improves efficiency and productivity while providing time and cost savings, it could transform the business.