Construction Industry Trends: July 2018 Roundup
It’s summertime, and we know that means most contractors are busy. But when you get a free minute, it’s worth taking a look at what’s going on in our industry. New technology continues to change how jobsites function, businesses are taking steps to diversify their workforces and a new project delivery method could be on the horizon. Plus, get some advice for marketing and expanding your business in this month’s news roundup.
It’s no secret drones are becoming more prevalent in construction. But how significant is drone use in reality? Pretty significant, it turns out. CNBC reports that construction drone use increased 239 percent year over year, which is higher than the levels of drone growth in both mining and agriculture. While drones are capable of tasks like thermal heat imaging and mapping, they’re mostly used for aerial photography. Drones’ ability to hover in one place and take photos means they take better images than planes.
The takeaway: As drone use skyrockets, more contractors will get on board with drone photography and see the benefits of this technology. While any new technology is an investment, the good news is off-the-shelf drones can get the job done on most jobsites, so the added cost of customization usually isn’t necessary.
Alternative project delivery methods like design-build (DB) are growing more common as owners seek to speed up projects and lower costs. While in the common design-bid-build (DBB) method an owner works with a separate design firm and contractor to execute a project, in DB an owner contracts with just one entity that performs both design and execution. Construction Dive highlights a recent report that found DB methods could account for 44 percent of construction put-in-place spending by 2021.
The takeaway: The DBB project delivery method isn’t going anywhere in construction. But as more building owners turn to alternative methods, contractors should consider whether the method their business uses will remain attractive in the future. It’s not feasible for all contractors to suddenly offer design services, but new partnerships and strategies could help your business down the line.
Finding new business in the construction industry doesn’t work the same way it used to. An article from ENR this month explains that social media, content marketing, CRM software and other tools and technologies have changed the selling process. New sales trends will continue to change this process in architecture, engineering and construction. Businesses would be wise keep up with them to avoid falling behind.
The takeaway: Contractors might not be terribly worried about finding new business during a busy summer construction season, but that doesn’t mean sales and marketing should fall by the wayside. Someone at your business needs to keep up with the industry’s selling trends because at the end of the day, using new tactics and channels can lead to business you might not have expected.
An in-depth report from The Portland Metro Workforce Development Board in Portland, Ore. takes a look at diversity in the region’s construction industry, sets goals for the industry and suggests ways for improving diversity (women currently make up 4 percent of construction workers in the Portland metro area, while minorities make up 20 percent). Consistent funding for recruitment programs could play a big role in expanding the construction workforce, and training efforts related to jobsite culture could boost retention.
The takeaway: Construction businesses in all regions face the challenges of recruiting a diverse workforce and finding skilled labor. Look at some of this report’s suggested goals and advice for achieving them to find practical steps to recruit new workers.
Connected sensors have arrived on the construction jobsite in a big way, reports Construction Dive. They’re protecting workers, preventing damage and loss and helping optimize assets. Take, for example, a wearable sensor that can detect whether a worker is drowsy or tell them they’re about to lift too much weight. Those things are small on their own but can prevent serious incidents. Connected IoT devices are also collecting a whole lot of data that contractors can use to inform future decisions.
The takeaway: Smart homes aren’t the only smart locations anymore, and contractors should consider whether it’s worth investing in smart technology on their jobsites. Food for thought: A sensor that monitors temperature in a piece of equipment can flag a problem before damage costs a company thousands of dollars. That makes sensor technology sound like the kind of initial investment that could have a big impact.
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