At the start of 2020, the construction industry was booming. Adding over $900 billion to the economy in the United States, things were looking up in the first quarter. Of course, followed by a pandemic that cost the construction industry more than $60 million and over a million jobs lost, the construction industry’s future was in question. Old problems needed solutions, and they needed them yesterday.
Table of Contents
- Trends In The Construction Industry To Watch
- Technological Changes To Construction Tools
- Prefabrication And Modular Construction Design
- Safety Awareness At Construction Sites
- Material Cost Increases
- Remote Work And The Mobile Revolution
- Smart Cities And Sustainably Planned Infrastructure
- Computerization At Scale
- Construction Tools Of The Future
- How Construction Firms Are Weathering The Storm
Trends In The Construction Industry To Watch
In an ever-evolving world, we had to learn from our mistakes and learn quickly. There were many things that the 2008 recession taught businesses that enabled them to devise strategies to weather recessionary storms. However, not many had prepared for a global pandemic.
One of the significant trends that the pandemic has pushed into the spotlight is the use of technology.
Technological Changes To Construction Tools
Construction firms found a new and renewed desire to save during the 2008 recession. These cost-saving and enabling principles carried into 2020 with renewed vigor as jobs became scarce and construction sites faced closure by government regulations.
One of the changes that have taken shape alongside the last decade of civilization is the growth of technological advancement and the revolution of information and communications.
Given a need for liability and expense management, many businesses within the construction section turned to automation to lower expenses.
Automation doesn’t come solely to manufacturing, and it isn’t like we have construction drones that can use construction tools to fabricate the required buildings and so forth. However, automation can come in the form of operational process manipulation.
For example, take incident reporting: When an employee has an injury on the job site, the relevant reports are completed, the worker is taken to a medical facility or treated as required, and the paperwork starts on its tedious journey.
With digital forms and automated notification, the days of old reporting are over, and construction companies can save on filing, paper, printing, labor (to file or compile documents, document delivery, et cetera).
Prefabrication And Modular Construction Design
Trending in 2020 and into 2021 is the desire for modularization. There are benefits to modular designs, and there are benefits to prefabrication that construction firms can take advantage of and utilize.
Many believe that prefabricated housing and building projects are the future of construction – and the key to it being sustainable.
As the article in Forbes website suggests, many companies are pushing forward with a world-first approach, like Dvele prefab homes, mentioned in the Forbes article on the subject.
Companies like Dvele see the issues with climate change, wildfires sweeping California, and other apparent phenomena that suggest we should leave the world a little better than the way we inherited it.
Modularization is a way that construction firms can manage a complex project. Also, it makes the company’s scaling of their operations that much easier.
The concept of modularization doesn’t stop at the act of physically constructing buildings. Using this same principle for management, operations, or other aspects of a business has proven to upsize and downsize a company as the need arises.
Safety Awareness At Construction Sites
The pandemic did one thing in 2020 that no one can deny – it raised everyone’s awareness of health and safety. Whether you agree with it or not, the regulations that all of us faced to varying degrees with social distancing, mask use, restrictions on building client density, and businesses forced to shut for entire months at a time.
The construction industry was no exception to this sweeping change, with many construction sites visited by and fined by newly empowered officials following newly created regulations. It was a mess that every company had to try to keep up with to ensure not to face forced site closures.
Enter the construction tools of the future – digital reports, digital audits, checklists, forms, and other documentation completion requirements. Companies are now empowered to complete operational tasks with more incredible speed and efficiency than ever before. With new restrictions and evolving conditions, having an agile, customizable, and digitally efficient solution is a priority; and if it isn’t, it most certainly should be.
Using digital solutions, whether it’s downloadable templates or a fully customizable digital interface like the cloud-based app from us at 1st Incident Reporting, we’re all moving away from paper copies of documents. It’s just that some are moving faster than others.
Construction Management Tip: Customize your Risk Assessment Form with our app or use the downloadable template to ensure that your teams stay one step ahead of accidents in the workplace.
Material Cost Increases
A trend that many are not hailing to be beneficial is the seemingly exponential rise in construction costs due to materials. The rising costs in materials make the sale that much more challenging. It drives an impending need for managers to look at ways they can cut costs.
These material increases are a strain on every construction company, and the need for efficiency has thus never been greater. Maximizing automation, as mentioned, is one way many construction firms are utilizing technology to allocate resources within their organizations better.
Speeding processes such as pre-use vehicle inspection reports or construction site safety audits using digital reporting systems and technologies allow for near-instantaneous response.
It’s just another way managers utilize technology to increase their department’s operational efficiencies and response times. Here are just a few of the types of digitally completed forms that managers can use to increase efficiency to offset rising material costs:
- Dangerous Situation Report
- Employee Injury Report
- Equipment Condition Report
- Fleet Repair Request
- Incident Report
- Pre / Post Trip Inspection
Remote Work And The Mobile Revolution
When lockdowns started rolling across states and provinces of North America, businesses of all types faced difficult decisions regarding maintaining operations. Many were forced to adapt to remote working conditions where once filled offices now filled living rooms and home offices.
Many construction firms had no choice but to move their office staff into remote work or face the same fate as many other businesses and close the doors. The remote working revolution had begun.
The remote working revolution created an open door for the tools of the future to get exposure today. With tools for job site audits, digital checklists, and other mobile solutions, the construction firms of today are well-positioned to take on tomorrow’s challenges. That is if they take action to move into using digital solutions for various operations processes.
The challenge of remote work and mobile workforce provisioning has always been remote management. Keeping staff and teams working at a reasonable and safe pace when you aren’t on-site to dispense direction is a complication to the remote work movement. Every company that transfers staff from office settings to remote work has seen the effects of such drastic work environment disruption.
Remote Work By The Numbers
Office Staff Productivity
All industries felt a drastic shift in 2020, with pre-pandemic numbers of Americans who worked from home averaging only 5% of the workforce. By May, that number had jumped to over 60%, according to a study done by greatplacetowork.com.
The same study also showed two significant shifts in how employees reacted to and worked within their new work surroundings.
- Productivity Increased
Most studies, including those mentioned earlier, show that employee productivity levels increase when they work from home. It is attributed to several factors.
- Employees want to continue working from home, so work extra hard to prove it is a work environment the employer must continue to maintain for productivity.
- Employees no longer suffer a commute (and associated loss of time and expense) and therefore have more time and energy to complete work-related tasks.
- Team Morale Dropped
The dark side to working from home for employees comes with two significant effects on their work-related morale:
- Loss of a sense of leadership is a significant concern for many employees who feel that they have less direction from leadership without being in a work environment.
- Loss of a sense of workplace culture is another effect of a work from home environment.
- Team camaraderie is often left alone in a work-from-home atmosphere.
For the construction industry, having the right construction tools to overcome the new and adverse effects of a remote work scenario is vital to the success of operations.
Overcoming employee management issues becomes easier with automated processes and procedures.
By helping your staff with a procedural checklist for reporting injuries or sharing a customized field auditing template, you can empower your staff to complete tasks with direction despite the absence of in-person management.
When safety on remote sites is a concern, many wise construction managers turn to solutions that digitize your workplace health & safety program.
Remote Construction Site Project Management – A Digital Solution
Many security firms have used the shift report for years, or even decades, as a part of their operations documentation. Construction companies managing remote projects and sites can help their site managers by using similar shift reporting features of a customizable digital reporting platform.
Using customized shift reports, your company can help manage your site crew managers by using a mobile and cloud-based platform like that offered by 1st Incident Reporting. It empowers you to take control of your crews by having them complete a report of your making and submit it at an interval of your choosing.
The customized notifications allow you to manage your team from wherever you are. The moment they complete a site audit, shift report, or other forms, you can have an instant notification set to drive your attention to the action. As a mobile application, this functionality means you don’t need to be onsite to manage (potentially) and that your response times can be as accurate as if you were right there on site.
Smart Cities And Sustainably Planned Infrastructure
The shift in technology and information sharing significantly impacts the construction industry regarding city planning and large developments.
2020 brought a significant shift in spending with a whopping $120 billion spent on intelligent infrastructure development. This trend is not expected to go away; instead, it is expected to continue in an upward trajectory.
Society is more concerned than ever with climate change, and rising costs of food don’t lessen that effect. Construction projects are turning more and more to complex infrastructure to incorporate power production and even food production within the confines of the development itself.
The self-sustaining designs emerging are the future cities and are being heavily funded by some of the world’s largest tech companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Google.
The push of intelligent city design has many construction industries looking to more stable markets such as residential housing.
With a massive increase in urbanites moving to rural locations with their newfound remote work freedom, the push for more development in smaller cities and towns is a simple case for the law of demand. Many construction companies are abandoning the bids for those ‘lucrative’ city contracts in moves to build subdivisions and other residential housing projects in smaller cities now that they can demand big-city prices.
The shift towards projects that stray from the major urban centers means that construction firms need to manage their teams remotely more than ever. You may be putting crews in hotels in small towns farther and farther away. There will be more need for mobile reporting solutions such as:
- Pre / Post Trip Inspections
- Vehicle Condition Reports
- Vehicle Accident Reports
- Shift Reports
- Equipment Condition Reports
There are, of course, many other potential field audits or reports your construction company may require of your teams in the field. Using a customized digital solution that you can install directly onto your team’s company smartphones, tablets, or computers is an efficient way to manage your teams while relying on the automation of notifications to let you know when your staff completes tasks.
Computerization At Scale
The advent of the supercomputer brought with it newfound abilities to things like AI and movie special effects – the effects on the construction industry have been profound.
New technologies in computing have allowed architecture and engineering to advance in ways that seemed to be decades, if not millennia, away.
Designs for more intricate construction with seemingly infinite layers of infrastructure to support new technologies are the way of the future for construction. Our newfound computing abilities make the once-science-fiction an actual reality. Even residential home design has taken steps toward a technologically elegant future, and construction companies have to keep up with these shifts and changes in modern architecture.
Many construction companies are making use of computerization at scale by implementing digital cloud-based systems like the 1st Incident Reporting app. Customizable applications like that offered by us at 1st allow companies to leverage technology to automate processes, expedite information transfer, and create clear and navigable solutions to empower employees to complete their tasks.
Construction Tools Of The Future
Technology And Project Management
The most significant trends of the last decade revolve around technology, there is no doubt. One of the most significant changes that this shift has is the automation of processes and the analysis of data.
Firms use new construction tools to manage their operations and enhance managers’ workflows from engineering firms to bricklayers. Utilizing digital tools for project management, employee payroll, and innumerable other standard business processes allows a business to reduce both labor and time for process completion drastically. However, the results may not be initially apparent, depending on the training cycle for the staff to learn the construction tools like project management software.
Many are turning to ready-to-use digital solutions with simple and intuitive user interfaces to lessen the impact of training for construction firms. Complicated tools that require extensive training can cost a construction company extensive amounts initially both for implementation and training.
Digital reporting solutions which focus on a user-first presentation for a smooth and straightforward user experience mean your staff will efficiently complete their reporting or auditing tasks.
You will receive fewer issues to deal with in terms of the software or mobile application, and the automation of information delivery is expedited with ease as compared to complicated systems that have more of a data-driven focus rather than an operational user-first approach.
Equipment And Vehicles
Changes to transportation are imminent. We all see the shift from petroleum-based combustion engines to electric motor-driven transport. From cars to transport trucks, the electrification of transport is well underway. However, that’s not all that’s changing.
Vehicles and equipment are becoming more and more complex. As technology allows for more variation and computers become cheaper and cheaper, equipment features become more affordable and available.
The changes in vehicles and equipment require staff training update training on further use of the available technology. Add a heightened awareness of health and safety. There’s more than ever a reason to ensure proper vehicle inspection, fleet repair requests, and other vehicle and equipment audits are completed and submitted in a timely fashion.
Digitally reporting vehicle and equipment failures in remote worksites allows your company to respond in a way that never before in history has been available – instant document sharing and notification.
I’m sure you recall us looking briefly at the modularization of design and p construction movement. Within the construction industry, there is another angle to this trend that shares a bed with one of the emerging technologies available to the masses over the last decade – 3-D printing.
3-D printing finds use in either field or warehouse applications within construction. Some companies have chosen the prefabrication route utilizing 3-D printing in a warehouse production environment. Other companies have chosen a portable 3-D printing methodology where they print directly on the job site.
Although 3-D printing in construction is still a very niche method of building, the potential for complex and precise construction is near limitless. This type of technology is sure to hold a fundamental place in the construction industry of the near future. On-site equipment inspections will be more critical than ever when this form of technology gets a significant foothold in the industry.
Site Mapping And Imaging
These days everyone knows what a drone is. Very few people have not witnessed this technology in action, either in person or via film. Drones are becoming a part of everyday life.
There is a strong likelihood that drone vehicles will deliver the materials required by construction companies shortly. But drones have an even more significant impact already, and it has to do with site mapping and imaging.
A company required a helicopter or plane to get aerial photographs and surveys of a property in the past. Today the cost of such an endeavor has dropped to the weekend drone hobbyist level of expense, meaning that every company can now easily afford aerial site inspections or photography.
Aerial inspections that image roofs, construction sites, map using 3-D imaging, and even map local site elevations are becoming increasingly popular with construction firms. The ability for a company to take a 3-D aerial video of a construction project is a benefit to companies both in terms of marketing ability and practical and operational applications.
Using an aerial photography system in conjunction with a laptop or other equipment that allows uploading and downloading of images or video means that your staff can now take advantage of instant uploading to the company’s preferred digital reporting system.
The future of site imaging and making is exciting when we consider the advancements of augmented reality. Construction firms of the future will have the ability to visually see a project put together in virtual or augmented reality. It is likely that an inevitable marriage between software like CAD and AR or VR will allow engineers, architects, and construction firms to design a build virtually on-site, yet designed across the globe in an augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) setup office of some sort.
Need a digital facility inspection form? 1st Incident Reporting has a customizable template that could be perfect for your construction company. Find out more here.
How Construction Firms Are Weathering The Storm
It’s true that uncertain times bring shaky ground for many industries. The construction industry is no exception. However, construction managers find new ways to deal with evolving uncertainty and optimize their processes with productive leadership.
The role of leadership is muted and unclear in uncertain times when work from home processes are mandated. Companies that leverage both managerial leadership abilities and technology have successfully implemented strategies for a remote workforce.
Leadership in the construction sector has achieved optimal success with strong culture and leadership pointing toward employee well-being and team or family-oriented cultural atmospheres. Leaders who embrace strong work ethics while maintaining an understanding of their employees’ needs find and achieve success in their managerial circles.
One such way that managers are showing employees an understanding of their needs is to adopt digital solutions that empower the employee to complete their duties efficiently. Solutions like shift report management, visitor screening forms, facility audits, vehicle inspection reports, and many more customized solutions are available. Companies like yours can empower staff to complete tasks in the field. When complete, the custom instant notification can communicate to you the completion of the task.
Because the system is cloud-based, it isn’t just mobile-friendly; it’s accessible with as little as an internet connection and sign-in information to the system. You can access it from your smartphone (Android or iOS), tablet, laptop, or desktop. With ISO certification, you know you can trust the platform with your company reporting needs with the most significant security confidence.
Why wait when your competitors are already adopting these digital systems? There’s never been a better time to implement cost-saving measures by implementing automation to your processes. Try 1st Incident Reporting and see for yourself how powerful a customizable digital solution can be for your construction firm.