As 2019 winds down, the construction industry continues to be in transition, as construction-related businesses and contractors keep transforming their operations by integrating new technologies, ideas, and opportunities. While the economic landscape remains a bit fuzzy, it is clear that heading into 2020 with no shortage of work, contractors will continue to see plenty of opportunities to grow their businesses.
Staying on top of the latest construction industry trends and technologies will give your business the best chance of excelling in the future. Here are four key trends that are expected to continue having a significant impact on the construction industry:
The Labor Shortage
There may be plenty of work available, but the lack of skilled workers in construction has been an issue for contractors for the last decade, and skilled labor needs continue to be a challenge in the construction industry. The recession from 2008 to 2012 resulted in lean operations and layoffs that forced many trained construction workers to look for employment in other industries, and since then contractors have found it difficult to bring them back. At the same time, younger generations have focused on tech-related industries rather than construction jobs, and a significant number of older generations have retired. As a result, the construction industry has continued to struggle to maintain skilled workforces.
Many forward-thinking construction industry associations and contractors have developed alternative recruitment methods during the last few years. For example, campaigns to appeal to younger generations with new opportunities related to construction technology, campaigns to attract more minorities and women by offering prominent construction roles, and revamping trade and tech school degree programs.
Data Analytics and Business Intelligence
Digital transformation and the ability to utilize previously unavailable technology has benefitted contractors, specifically through data analytic tools that allow contractors to collect, analyze, and evaluate more construction data than was previously possible. Business Intelligence systems are set to play a larger role in construction in the near future. Business Intelligence tools for the construction industry are easy to use – simply drag and drop data into buckets. Additionally, they are now fully integrated with construction ERP solutions, which makes it easier to analyze any data.
Digital Contractors/Mobile Construction
Integrated, cloud-based software platforms are now the preferred vehicle for contractors and construction-related companies. The platforms allow users the data from the back office to the entire project team, to the field, resulting in projects utilizing actionable data and a real-time run. At the same time, digitization eliminates manual and paper processes, which saves time, and by mitigating risk and error, improves both productivity and profits. Thanks to cloud-based software and intuitive construction-specific apps, field workers can now collect and access data on their smartphones, laptops, tablets and even wearable devices.
While mechanical and electrical contractors have been working with pre-fabrication of parts and materials, in the last couple of years contractors have really begun to bring work in-house. Many contractors are now evolving into entire design-build operations, complete with pre-fab or modular construction facilities that allow construction in a central location. Modular construction has several perks — due to modular construction occurring in a factory, costly weather delays can be avoided, they can be disassembled and relocated, and they can be re-used or repurposed, providing greater flexibility in how buildings are used. Additionally, modular construction reduces waste, and projects can reach completion 30 to 50 percent quicker than with traditional construction methods.
The next few years are likely to show even more exciting advances in technology specific to the construction industry, as well as innovative solutions to workforce and labor issues, that will continue to transform traditional construction methods and practices.