The construction industry is well on its way in 2023. Many experts forecast continued growth, with greater technology adoption to accelerate an industry historically lagging in adoption. Here’s how construction technology’s use is trending to impact field construction and combat on-going challenges.
1.Prefabricated & Modular Construction
Prefabricated and modular construction, where a structure is constructed offsite and then delivered to the intended site, has shown continued growth. Offsite conditions are becoming more prevalent to produce high and consistent quality, reduce building hours, saving substantial labor costs, and decreasing construction time by 50%.
Prefabrication and modular construction are continuing new trends in construction and a significant response to increase efficiencies. This method reduces a considerable problem – waste for the jobsite by simply minimizing and recycling leftover materials. It also optimizes jobsite production, reducing disruption at the site during construction and ensuring less uncontrollable delays, such as weather. The modular construction sector is forecast to reach $157 billion in 2023.
2. Persistent Labor Shortage
The construction industry has struggled with a skilled labor shortage dating back to the Great Recession. As it is now, the issue is that more workers are retiring out of the industry compared to younger workers coming in. Construction firms must increase their efforts to find, train, and retain skilled workers to keep up with demand. Training and skills development are clear competitive advantages for thriving businesses in many other industries.
In addition, better tools, such as new state-of-art technologies that appeal to the new tech-savvy generation of workers, are necessary. Finally, more competitive wages are also essential for keeping workers productive and satisfied.
3. Increased Safety Measures in Construction
Safety is a massive concern in the construction industry, with 21% of workplace fatalities occurring in the construction field. In 2018 alone, 1,008 construction workers died from falls, being struck-by-object, electrocution, and caught in/between hazards. Improving worker safety in controlled, permanent environments is the fundamental reason offsite construction is taking off in the U.S.
4. Connected Technology for Collaboration
Construction companies are increasingly adopting new technologies like BIM, AI, AR, and drones to increase efficiency and reduce errors in the construction process. However, the construction industry is drowning in a data pool with lots of silos. You’re not alone if you feel like you’re barely treading water. While we have more data than ever, much of it is trapped in silos. As a result, 95% of all data captured goes unused in the construction industry. Data must be accessible from a central location, updated in real-time, and connected across organizations, teams, and projects for data to be useful.
Documented workflow management software is one tool that helps companies manage office-to-field communication. By replacing manual paper-based documents and processes with digital construction forms and automated workflows, teams can better collaborate and manage control over field data collection – eliminating paper redundancies and streamlining inefficient processes. BIM technology also enables construction management, progress tracking, and delivery schedules more efficiently than ever before.
5. Automation in Construction
Automation is another emerging trend set to increase efficiency on construction job sites. Self-driving vehicles and drones performing repetitive tasks will help speed up the construction process, improving productivity and accuracy without displacing jobs. In addition, automation leaves workers free to focus on more important specialized tasks while drones and robots take care of repetitive tasks, decreasing overhead and waste.
6. Design-Build in Construction
The Design-build method is where one company – typically the general contractor – is responsible for designing and constructing the project. The single point of authority and responsibility enables better communication, more organized feedback, more organic teamwork, and faster product delivery. Industry buy-in has been unequivocal, with 47 out of the 50 U.S. states now mandating design-build for awarding public construction projects.
7. Green Construction and Sustainability Technology
The continued demand for sustainability reduces the carbon footprint throughout every construction phase – building to maintenance to demolition. For example, the number of LEED-certified projects in the U.S. increased to 67,200 from 296 from 2016 to 2018. In addition, construction firms can measure the success of going green through lowered operating costs, improved occupant health, and higher occupancy rates.
Another new trend in construction technology is better safety equipment for workers on the jobsite, such as IoT devices and wearables to help reduce injuries by measuring the users’ environment and biometric conditions.
In 2023, collaboration and communication remain a significant trend, with so many stakeholders involved in construction projects. Contractors are leveraging new technologies and processes to improve communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Collaboration is a central theme for connecting field teams and the office.