The next decade of construction trends does not contain too many surprises. These trends have been growing across multiple industries. It’s important to stay on top of construction trends because they provide important information on what’s coming so you can learn about them. When you come across something that fits your business, it may help you jump ahead of the competition if you act first or you grow your business by improving operational efficiencies.
In comparison to other industries, the construction industry tends to evolve at a slower pace. A report from McKinsey and Company research reveals how other industries changed quickly by investing in technology while construction technology lagged. As a result, productivity in construction is behind global economic productivity.
The good news is that this is finally changing. Part of it is due to the notable increase in retirement as Baby Boomers hang up their hats. Replacing the Baby Boomers are the millennials and Generation Z who are digital natives.
The Value of Knowing Construction Trends
The construction industry has been fortunate that it has not been impacted by inflation as other industries have been. Of course, the price of materials has skyrocketed. Even though the industry continues to stay busy, it needs to explore ways to operate more efficiently to offset the cost of materials.
This is especially true as more than half of those surveyed in the Commercial Construction Index state they struggle with finding qualified workers. The rising costs do not help. Moreover, close to 80 percent of those responding say they face steady or growing backlogs. This forces more than half of the companies to spend more on equipment and tools.
A 2020 JBKnowledge ConTech survey of construction workers have discovered that an impressive 92% of respondents use their phones at work every day. More than 80% use their laptops and nearly 65% rely on tablets to get the job done.
What does it take to counter the labor shortages and climbing costs? The construction industry needs to streamline its processes and invest in technology like construction automation. These technologies can help save on costs while boosting productivity. Never has it been a better time for construction companies to adopt newer technology.
Here are the eight trends to watch over the next 10 years. Read up on them to determine if they are the solutions you need to be more efficient and more productive with fewer resources.
1. Connectivity on Construction Sites
Connectivity has been a challenge on jobsites for many reasons. Fortunately, connectivity is now better on jobsites due to advanced 5G networks and cloud systems. The quality of connections will continue to improve in the upcoming years. It will make it possible to use other technologies that increase safety and enhance equipment tracking in real time. Better networks will also ensure connected devices and wearables function at all times.
With better connectivity comes the growing use of cloud-based data management. A study from Cite Research has found that 75% of construction companies rely on cloud storage. Storing data securely in the cloud allows workers to access data from anywhere with most connected devices. The pandemic is also driving up technology adoption according to 58% of the executives responding to a Cisco survey.
2. Sensors and Internet of Things (IoT)
Without a doubt, safety is always a top priority in the construction industry due to the high risk of injuries. Improved connectivity makes it possible to invest in more technologies to increase worker safety. These include sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT). These can be integrated into equipment and wearables, such as vests, pants, and boots. They may contain GPS, radio frequency identification (RFID), or Wi-Fi to track the equipment and employees.
Some of this technology can detect a problem and notify management. Here’s an example: Caterpillar’s Cat MineStar Detect incorporates RFID tags into personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety vests and hard hats. The tags can communicate with equipment and workers to identify fatigue and distraction in real-time as well as notify the operator when someone is behind the equipment.
The construction industry does not have enough skilled workers. In the Commercial Construction Index, more than half of the respondents stated that finding qualified workers is a problem. Automation with robotics will go a long way toward solving the labor shortage problem. Using technology like robotics eases the pressure of searching for qualified laborers.
Robotics can take over monotonous and repetitive tasks. A great example is the Semi-Automated Mason (SAM 100). It’s the first commercially available robot of its kind. SAM 100 has the ability to lay more than 3,000 bricks per day. Instead of laying bricks, workers reload SAM with bricks and mortar. They also clean around the bricks placed by the robot.
A brick-laying project only involves SAM 100 robot, one mason, one foreman, and two laborers. Without SAM, the project would require four or five masons and two foremen. It took just one week to train the workers on how to work with the robot. The robots speed up the work and take over the heavy lifting. It makes the job safer for laborers.
4. The Use of Renewable Energy
Biden’s administration has reversed some of the previous administration’s actions to remove policies related to environmental protection. This led utility-scale solar players to experience huge gains and momentum.
Prices are dropping as the International Renewable Energy Agency report shows. This includes utility-scale solar costs as well as onshore and offshore wind costs. Leaders in U.S. solar, wind, and storage industry associations have published their “Majority Renewables by 2030” plan. This outlines their vision for the decarbonization of the power sector.
All these actions have sent renewable energy production soaring. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electric power sector accounts for almost 60% of the U.S. renewable consumption in 2021. Plus, 20% of U.S. electricity generation came from renewable energy sources. Renewable energies help reduce greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions.
Construction companies have made net-zero impact commitments for new buildings and infrastructures. Large corporations are investing in biofuels, and solar and wind power. Some construction companies are already building the needed infrastructure to support renewables.
5. Moving Toward More Electric Equipment
Between the growth of renewable energy and the commitment to cutting carbon emissions, it’s no surprise that construction is adding more electrified equipment. Some municipalities have banned gas-powered equipment or added regulations to limit the usage of gas-powered equipment. Thus, construction companies are adding electric compact excavators, compact loaders, and skid steers.
6. Supporting Different Skillsets
As mentioned before, many construction employees are retiring. The people replacing them aren’t interested in operating a machine. They prefer to interact with electronics. Generation Z likes the idea of entering a simulator to operate a machine hundreds of miles away. The industry will need to explore solutions that allow digital natives to operate machines electronically and remotely.
7. Switching from Buying to Leasing
Equipment has gotten more expensive between the pandemic and inflation. Anytime equipment stops working, it’s difficult to find an affordable replacement. The solution is to lease equipment. The advantage of this approach is that companies will have newer equipment with the latest technology.
Leasing saves heavily on the costs of buying new. Additionally, they most likely won’t have to deal with servicing, repairs, and upkeep. This will free up resource time and budgets.
8. Prioritizing Cybersecurity
Much of a construction business initially didn’t involve technology. That has changed with IoT, Business Information Modeling (BIM) apps, robotics, and greater use of the cloud. All of these are vulnerable to hacking and cyber-attacks. This is why the convergence of physical security and cybersecurity is important. Cyber-attacks threaten physical security and vice versa.
Investing in Construction Trends
It’s valuable to study the trends to understand what fits your construction business. If something has the ability to increase efficiency and productivity while saving on time and costs, then it has the potential to transform the business.
There’s one more factor in construction that must remain a top priority. That is security. It’s not on this list of construction trends in the next decade because security has always been the lifeblood of construction. It helps ensure the safety of workers and your most expensive assets.
One of the best construction security technologies is video surveillance. Security cameras with remote monitoring put eyes on your entire construction site. It helps avert theft, vandalism, and trespassing. Remote video surveillance can help mitigate liability issues, improve construction operations, and heighten productivity.
In the search for the right remote video surveillance system, be sure to keep cybersecurity in mind. Ask the security company about their cybersecurity protocols and issuing firmware updates to cameras.
Experienced companies like Stealth have their own processes to verify and protect the integrity of their video surveillance technologies. While interviewing potential security partners, ask about their security plans and make sure their cameras, access systems, and software are all clean. Ask them how they go about verifying their technology is secure.
Learn more about this proactive security by checking out the construction security guide. This comprehensive guide examines the challenges of security construction sites and shares a variety of solutions. If you’d like more information, please contact us.