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Technology will drive trends in construction industry

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Construction has grown at a steady pace since 2011.

It’s predicted that construction, globally, will be a $10.3 trillion industry in 2020.

And the global economy will grow by 3.6 percent this year, according to Turner and Townsend’s International Construction Market Survey.

Meanwhile, the recovery of the economy will continue to be a major contributor to the growth in construction.

It all adds up to a very positive state for the construction industry.

But beyond the numbers, the industry is trending in many other ways, and most of them are positive.

Take technology, for example.

In the past, the construction industry has been slow to accept and integrate technology.

But that has dramatically changed.

In fact, the rapid advancement and application of technology in construction is creating even other trends this year. A look at some of them:

<TECHNOLOGY

One of the major trends is the increasing use of advanced and integrated technologies such as mobile and cloud applications, 3D printing and drones. Self-driving vehicles also are emerging.

An exciting new movement is an increase in virtual and augmented reality, which changes the construction industry by allowing people to “view” projects before they are built and to go on virtual tours of construction sites.

The drive for increased efficiencies and cost savings in construction projects has resulted in an increased use of modular and prefabricated construction. As the cost of construction materials escalates, the trend to use modular and prefabrication likely will increase.

<SAFETY

The construction industry is known to have a high incidence of workplace accidents – at a very significant financial and social cost. The rise in workers’ compensation insurance and other insurances in construction has compelled the industry to adopt better safety procedures.

Fortunately, construction companies are finding new technology and mobile apps that provide more resources for safety training and increased probability for a safer work environment.

<COSTS

There has been a steady increase in the prices of building materials.

Rising costs of skilled labor are occurring at the same time. Prices of construction materials are expected to remain high the rest of 2018.

The continuing shortage of skilled labor in construction also indicates continued high labor costs in construction.

One strategy that construction companies deploy to save costs is increasing usage of new construction technologies. A great example are the new mobile applications that help keep track of employee work patterns and monitor the storage and use of materials.

<PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Today’s software allows real-time project management. The software enables data-driven decisions and empowers transparency, accountability and efficiency in construction.

These capabilities provide a great resource to guard against and prevent budget overruns and low-efficiency rates on projects.

<BIM

Building information modeling includes collaboration that is critical in a construction project.

More contractors are implementing BIM technology in work processes. And 78 percent of manufacturers believe that BIM is the future for project information.

<WORKFORCE

The type of workforce in construction is changing. Digital technologies are generating the need for technologically savvy and competent professionals. Knowledge workers will be the future of the industry.

More emphasis will be placed on encouraging young people to see construction as a long-term career in a technological environment.

<SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainable construction will continue to gather attention and support. Construction managers and contractors are being persuaded to change the way they do their work and to meet more sustainability goals.

<

There is a lot of change and evolution occurring in 2018 in the industry. And there will be more technology-driven changes in the years ahead.

Stay tuned, and remember what the late American psychologist Robert W. White said in 1990: “Technology shapes society and society shapes technology.”

Glenn Ebersole, Professional Engineer, is business development manager at CVMNEXT Construction in King of Prussia. He can be reached at gebersole@cvmnext.com or 610-964-2800, ext. 155.

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