After agriculture, construction is the least-digitized industry in the U.S. In an industry that relies so heavily on physical labor, a lack of computer technology may not seem like much of a concern. But the industry’s failure to modernize comes at a big cost: more than $500 billion.
Construction Growth By The Numbers
Between 1947 and 2010, construction productivity grew by only 6%. Meanwhile, agriculture and manufacturing each grew by more than 700%.
There are many reasons why construction growth is lagging behind other sectors of the economy. One is that construction is largely made up of many small, low-productivity firms. Another is that regulations are complex. But one of the biggest causes is a lack of investment in new technologies.
There are already many high-tech solutions available to construction firms. But adoption has been slower than in other industries. More widespread use of these labor- and time-saving tools is crucial for boosting the long-term productivity – and profits – of the construction industry as a whole.
1) Mobile apps. Mobile apps let project managers monitor a wide range of data on a job site. This includes photos, labor hours, scheduling, and materials. Cataloging and analyzing this data is too big of a job for a human to do. But mobile apps powered by artificial intelligence can. The use of software to analyze a project in real-time gives project managers a big step up in keeping efficiency high and costs low.
3) Offsite construction. Offsite construction is a building technique that lets workers assemble parts of a building away from the final installation site. This includes constructing parts of a building on a factory floor.
Offsite construction eliminates weather delays. And it greatly reduces the need for laborers to work at odd hours in order to avoid conflicts with traffic.
2) Autonomous vehicles. More construction firms are using drones (both manual and AI-driven) to survey and map job sites. And tech companies like Google and Uber aren’t the only firms developing self-driving vehicles. Caterpillar has released a line of autonomous vehicles used for mining and hauling.
Demand for tradespeople and experienced construction workers is hitting record highs. 60% of U.S. contractors have reported difficulty finding enough skilled workers to complete projects on time. To compensate for a shortage of workers, construction firms will have to increase efficiently through innovation. That means embracing digitization.
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