In the United States, construction is a vital industry. Seven years ago, in 2014, it accounted for $907 billion in GDP and employed 6.2 million people across the country.
Construction companies provide jobs to skilled laborers in specialized fields such as carpentry and welding while also providing employment opportunities for unskilled labor positions such as laborer or welder helper.
Perpetual Growth of Construction Industry
The growth of this industry has been on an upward trend since 2007 when it peaked at $1 trillion in GDP and 7 million employees before falling due to the 2008 financial crisis. Following the financial crisis, however, construction was one of only two industries that had recovered from its losses following the recession, with annualized growth rates exceeding 4%.
Construction companies are not limited to brick-and-mortar projects either. In 2021, the industry was responsible for $191 billion in services such as engineering and environmental assessment.
This number is expected to grow over the next five years as technological advancements allow companies to do more with less money. For example, drones can obtain measurements of bridges or buildings that would otherwise require an expensive human team and a helicopter.
Productivity, Efficiency, and Adapting to Modern Technologies
In recent years, construction companies have been relying more and more on technology to improve productivity and efficiency. A recent survey of 500 senior business leaders in various industries found that 40% of them believed that their company would be entirely transformed by intelligent automation within the next 2-3 years.
Similarly, a report conducted by McKinsey & Company discovered that businesses across all industries are investing in Internet of Things (IoT) applications to reduce costs, streamline workflows, and increase revenue.
In addition to IoT, construction companies have been exploring other ways to integrate technology into their business processes. According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 80% of employers involved in engineering and building construction are already using wearable or portable technology at least occasionally to improve worker safety, assist with monitoring tasks, reduce costs, and develop information management systems.
- Some Stats Over the Years
According to the NIOSH report mentioned above, nearly 90% of companies believe that “the biggest benefits of wearable/portable technologies include improved worker safety (55%), ability to monitor worker health & safety in real-time (48%), assisting with work tasks/managing workflow (44%), and providing more accurate data with which to make decisions at all levels of the organization (33%).”
The most popular applications for wearable technology include fall protection, back & spine supports, exteroception devices such as radar and sonar, and personal monitoring systems such as heart rate and blood pressure monitors.
Over the last few years, construction companies have started implementing wearable technology to reduce the risk of injury for their employees. According to a study published by researchers at the University College of London, “Construction workers are particularly vulnerable because they use machines designed for factory and warehouse work. They also toil in loud environments, frequently do repetitive tasks, and work with their hands for up to 8 hours a day.”
The researchers found that widely used safety equipment such as hard hats, goggles, knee pads, or steel-toed boots were only effective at reducing the likelihood of injury by 20%. However, the use of exteroception devices such as radar and sonar was highly effective at reducing risk by up to 60%.
Additionally, personal monitoring devices such as pulse monitors and blood pressure cuffs reduced injury rates by an impressive 70%. However, they still require more research before being implemented on a large scale.
- Improved Customer Care and Communication
Construction companies have also been exploring using technology to connect with their customers better. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, companies in four out of five industries are investing in IoT for this reason.
In the construction industry, especially when it comes to large-scale projects such as building hospitals or skyscrapers, the complexity, and scale of workflows make it nearly impossible to monitor and coordinate all necessary tasks.
A study conducted by researchers at Columbia University found that 30% of construction projects are behind schedule, with additional costs amounting to $57 million on average.
The most common reason for project delays is inefficient communication between workers and cumbersome processes such as paper-based document management systems. Thus, construction companies are looking to digital information management systems as well as wireless sensor networks that will connect these different workflows more efficiently.
- Revolution in the Industry by Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an example of how technology can be used to improve communication between all parties involved in construction projects. BIM models contain 3D representations of the entire building process, including information such as project schedules, engineering designs, regulatory requirements, and structural integrity.
According to a report by Autodesk, “Global market demand for BIM software is $1 billion annually with North America leading at $450 million. By 2022, spending on BIM technology for construction will reach $9 billion worldwide.”
The construction industry has been using wearable technology to reduce injury rates and improve work efficiency. The most common applications for this type of technology include exteroception devices, personal monitoring systems, and Building Information Modeling (BIM).
Construction companies have also been exploring how to use IoT to better connect with their customers. With BIM software being a potential $9 billion market by 2022, it is no surprise that the construction industry is looking for ways to streamline communication between workers and cumbersome processes such as paper-based document management systems.
In doing so, the hope is that not only will these projects be more efficient but that they’ll also save time and money on large-scale projects like building hospitals or skyscrapers.