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November 25, 2019

The Trends Every Contractor Should Watch


The construction industry is enjoying the benefits of a strong economy, with a healthy pipeline of work and confidence the current pace of new projects will continue for some time. Despite ongoing chatter about a changing economy, worker shortages, and trade wars with countries holding materials vital to every construction project, the industry is continuing to motor along.

No matter which direction the industry goes from a pipeline standpoint, the impact technology plays on maintaining a competitive advantage and engaging young workers isn’t going to change. Worker shortages currently plague many contracting businesses, impacting their ability to go after bigger projects. What was considered far-flung technology aims to change that, as it can both address manpower gaps in the field while also encouraging young workers to consider a career in construction.

Technology these days means more than desktop software and mobile devices, but important evolutions in how those platforms are used are worth monitoring closely to determine what technology investment contractors should make next. In addition, advanced solutions that are just now emerging as good fits for the construction industry may be worth investing in sooner than later in order to get a jump on training employees how to use these groundbreaking applications.

What the Jobsite of the Future Looks Like

The upcoming class of new technology applications impacting the construction industry is wide-ranging, both in terms of type and the ease with which they can be deployed. Let’s take a look at some of the front-runners that can change a construction business for the better.

Drone Footage

One technology development that is impacting multiple industries is the use of drones. While they are certainly handy for photographers and content producers who want to add a birds-eye view to video projects, drones are also talked up as an asset to the construction industry. The use of aerial views can help contractors spot dangerous conditions on a jobsite before they harm workers and make informed decisions about everyday issues that might impact progress. Instead of relying on workers to visit remote jobsites to make these assessments, drones can provide more accurate insights without putting employees at risk. What’s not to love?

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Similar in concept to getting a sneak-peak at jobsite dangers, Building Information Modeling has long been a trusted tool for assembling a project without putting a shovel in the ground. While somewhat old hat by this point, BIM has become so trusted by the broader A/E/C industry that it’s almost surprising to find a company not using it. The computer-generated model not only helps spot potential problems before construction begins, but can also calculate how the building will perform across its lifetime. It’s an invaluable tool that can deliver a more efficient and safer building process.

Green Building and Design

At this juncture, green construction has become the expectation across jobsites. While the early days saw groundbreaking features like green roofs and geothermal wells grabbing all the headlines, the good news is that more affordable products like low-VOC paints and drought-resistant plantings are widely available. There are numerous options for incorporating green design and products that help reduce a building’s carbon footprint, and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is an excellent resource for learning how easy it is to create healthier environments for building occupants.

Construction Project Management Software

The use of construction management software isn’t a foreign concept to most contractors, but continued refinement of industry-leading products has led to the adoption of cloud-based platforms to encourage information sharing across the team. Construction project management software can address all aspects of a construction project, including accounting, estimating, bidding, personnel, and project management, and the migration to the cloud means every team member is connected to updates in real-time.

Safety Protocol  

Much like the drone that can flag dangerous site conditions, robots are increasingly considered as viable stand-ins for working in environments not fit for humans. While the idea of a robot replacing workers isn’t popular, it may be time to consider how being open to the possibility of artificial intelligence could keep workers safer and focused on the actual management of the project – not risking life and limb in risk-heavy situations.

Worker Retention

A final area of consideration when evaluating new technology is how it can be used to attract future workers. Right now, the shortfalls in manpower for construction projects are staggering, and causing many experts to look to technological alternatives (see above) to replace the talent and manpower gaps. In the meantime, in order to attract young workers, an investment in technology platforms like mobile field apps and cloud-based collaboration software could play a significant role in a company’s ability to woo top talent that may work for other firms or in another industry entirely.

Making a Plan

For all these reasons, investing in construction technology is a wise move for a company that is looking to improve project outcomes in the short term and stand apart from its competitors over the long haul.

For more information on how new project management software and cloud-based collaboration tools can transform your construction business, contact us today for a free quote or software demonstration.

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