Over the last decade, digital technology has changed entire industries. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have transformed the worlds of media. Online retail giants such as Amazon have disrupted retailers who operate from bricks and mortar. Driverless vehicles are increasingly being seen on our roads. And the new technology is not just for meeting consumer demands for better entertainment, shopping and transportation. In many industries, innovation has increased the productivity and sustainability of companies and reshaped the skills and competencies required to develop them.
During the same period, however, the construction industry continues operating as it did during the last 50 years, with a dependence on manual labour, mechanical operations and traditional business models. Levels of productivity have plateaued as a result.
Now, digital technology has gradually begun to impact the construction industry, altering how its infrastructure, property and other assets are designed, made, utilised and maintained. Such technology includes building information modelling, pre-built goods only requiring assembly, robotics and printing in 3D. Economic and social impacts can be enormous, as the construction industry employs in excess of 100 million people globally.
As well as new technology, there are several global trends that will force the construction industry to re-evaluate traditional practices. Among the biggest impact is increasing urbanization, climate change, scarce resources and a lack of talent. The latter is particularly concerning. Tough to hire for vacancy figures have doubled during the last five years. In other countries the talent gap is expected to grow further.
Different players in the construction industry – engineers, architects, planners, material suppliers, contractors, builders and operations companies – need to prepare for strategic changes and make the right moves to develop in new technologies and trends to minimise disruption. To help, here are some of the possible future trends that the industry will need to prepare for:
- Construction in cyberspace. Artificial intelligence, software systems and construction equipment autonomously replacing the work of most users across the engineering and construction value chain.
- Plant running the world. Construction activity moving largely to the factories and industrial facilities using lean principles and advanced manufacturing processes for pre-fabricated modules to then be assembled on site. For Building Services for all construction needs, visit a site like https://www.piggottandwhitfield.co.uk/building-services/
- Going green. The construction industry using sustainable technologies and new materials to meet tough new environmental regulations.
It is still not clear which construction will take these, and it is possible that the future will include elements of all three scenarios. The current business models, strategies and skills will not be sufficient in the future of this world. This underlines the fact that those involved in the construction chain will need to prepare strategically.