6 Ways Emerging Technology is Addressing the Construction Industry Labor Shortage

by | Aug 22, 2019 | All, Electrical, Mechanical

 

 

 

 

If
you’re part of the construction industry in the US, you have a peculiar
problem: too much work for the number of available workers. The unemployment
rate for construction workers is at an unbelievable low of 3.4%. Many in the
industry say they’ve never seen so many job opportunities – estimated at
250,000 in mid-2018 – for so few interested in taking them. The good news for
the workers who are available is that wages are increasing. The bad news
for owners and builders is that wages are increasing. Higher wages naturally attract
more workers, but many of them are inexperienced and require at least some
training to get up to speed on a job. Quality, safety and productivity suffer
as a result. The net effect to construction projects is an increase in costs,
leading to budget overruns. Something’s got to give.

 

That something has turned out to
be technology.

 

What technology can give the
construction industry includes ways to attract talent, improve training,
increase productivity, employ machinery/robots, increase safety, reduce errors,
and adjust quickly to design changes. In an October 2018 article, “6 ways emerging tech is
addressing the construction industry’s labor shortage
,” BuildWorlds describes emerging technology companies that offer
solutions to the construction labor shortage issues. Those solutions include:

 

 

 

  1. Training – Companies now have access to tools to help
    workers visualize their work before they even set foot on the jobsite. These
    tools can also transfer on-the-job instructions to workers in the field in
    real-time. The technology includes virtual reality (VR, simulates a
    physical 3D presence on the job site using project designs), augmented reality (AR = VR + an overlay
    of computer-generated jobsite information) and mixed reality (MR, merges virtual content with the real world . . . think holograms). Autodesk Revit Live creates immersive architectural visualizations.
  2. Workflow – A number of workflow management software solutions are now available
    – and improving constantly – that enable real-time communication on the job with
    superior accuracy. This alleviates time wasted on document management – estimates are that construction workers waste
    1/3 of their time searching for project data – and time required for rework
    if/when teams work from the wrong set of design drawings. Check out Autodesk BIM 360 products for
    workflow management.
  3. Prefabrication –
    The modern resurgence of building project modules off-site enables companies to
    control such variables as site conditions, weather, worker safety, and
    equipment scheduling. One of the leading products in the renaissance of
    prefabrication is eVolve MEP, including eVolve Mechanical
    and eVolve Electrical.
  4. Equipment – Like
    it or not, robots are here to stay. There are some jobs that robots are
    perfectly suited for, particularly dangerous, repetitive and dirty ones in
    construction: brick laying, rebar bending, welding, cutting, demolition, and
    gathering debris. As Inc.com points
    out in “Robots Are the Future of
    Employment
    ,” robots enhance
    human work. One of the reasons fewer people entering the job market look to
    construction as a career is because it has a reputation for being hard labor.
    Robots are changing that. Going forward, a construction job might entail
    supervising the robot that does the hard labor or loading it with bricks or
    even programming it. These are the types of careers that can attract employees
    who grew up with technology.
  5. Supervision – Using
    software that tracks safety, materials, equipment, labor, design changes, and
    data access, jobsite supervision has taken a huge leap forward. The job
    supervisor has an unprecedented ability to monitor the active jobsite and react
    to questions, RFIs and situations nearly instantaneously. Remote interaction in
    real-time keeps teams working and productive. As part of the Internet of Things
    (IoT), web-enabled mobile devices can identify risks before they result in
    problems by feeding off of data from sensors strategically located on the
    jobsite. For more about IoT, read the Redshift article “IoT Technology Will Improve
    Safety and Efficiency on the Construction Site
    .” The BIM 360 collection includes
    products at the forefront of
    IoT technology.
  6. Planning – Imagine
    running through hundreds of possible iterations of a building design before selecting
    the ideal choice for the final version. A computer can do that, at least a
    computer that has been programmed to perfect design “mistakes” and resolve
    design conflicts. Artificial intelligence (AI)
    and machine learning are intertwined technologies that can revolutionize planning
    and design processes.

 

 

 

Ever since many of us were in high school we’ve
been hearing that technology will help us solve some of the world’s problems.
One of those problems facing us today is how to keep up with the demands for
better, faster, leaner construction. We’ve seen it in other industries, including
manufacturing, now it’s construction’s turn. Whether it’s planning, training
and workflow or jobsite and performance improvements, this is the time for
technology to shine through.

 

 

 

Request a demo
of eVolve MEP
today learn how you can put the emerging
technology of prefabrication to work in your firm to address the construction
industry labor shortage and other emerging issues.

 

 

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