State of the Construction Industry: October 2018 Roundup
5 Minute Read
Happy almost Halloween! Before you head home to get in costume or hand out candy, check out the top headlines from October’s construction news. We’ve seen topics like technology, the labor shortage and safety in the headlines all year long, and this month is no exception. This month’s stories bring some unique insights to the discussion, though, and they offer a sneak peek at JBKnowledge’s 2018 Construction Technology Report.
JBKnowledge’s 2018 Construction Technology Report is currently in the works, and Construction Dive got access to the preliminary results. Specifically, the publication examined technology adoption rates, obstacles and opportunities, and their analysis revealed some technologies are significantly growing in popularity. It also revealed, though, that setbacks like a lack of staff and budget still limit widespread technology adoption.
The takeaway: Just because contractors face obstacles to tech adoption doesn’t mean you can ignore new technologies. In the long run, we’ll be seeing more tech on jobsites. It’s just a matter of how quickly that will happen. Getting ahead of the game and investing in research and education now could be worthwhile for your business.
Construction Business Owner took a look at automation technology and what it could mean for contractors in the future. The benefits of automation may be significant: increased safety on jobsites, reduced labor costs, increased operational efficiency, greater productivity. Workers always wonder, though, what these changes will mean for them, and this article argues automation will be good for workers, not bad.
The takeaway: Automation is a technology trend worth following, especially since it has the potential to help contractors deal with labor shortage issues. But it’s also important to consider how new tech like this could affect your current workforce and make sure it doesn’t scare off your employees.
This month Curbed reported on some real-world uses for the smartest computers. IBM’s Watson supercomputer will analyze construction jobsites to identify what’s wrong with projects and what could make them operate better. So, does this mean we’ll see this kind of technology on the average jobsite soon? McKinsey & Co. analyzed artificial intelligence adoption in a dozen industries and concluded construction will not be a top spender in this arena yet. That being said, this kind of technology project could lead to more interest in AI.
The takeaway: We’ve certainly heard discussions about how AI could affect construction before, and articles like this one suggest the discussions will continue. If this Watson case study can prove the value of this type of analysis, our industry might start paying attention.
Another topic we see contractors discussing month after month: the labor shortage. This month, Forbes offered some out-of-the-box solutions for attracting talent when the overall unemployment rate is low. Suggestions include reaching out to military veterans’ groups and focusing on bringing more women to the industry. The article also notes the importance of using digital tools, which can attract younger workers.
The takeaway: If you’re like most contractors, the labor shortage is a problem you’ve been dealing with for a while. Articles like this one are a reminder of the importance of making hiring an ongoing effort and continuously looking for ways to connect with groups in your community that could help attract more people to the skilled trades.
Combatting the construction labor shortage takes persistence.
Lack of sleep is all-too-common in the workplace, but it’s especially troublesome on construction sites where fatigued employees can create dangerous situations, according to a recent survey from the National Safety Council (NSC) that found the majority of workers are fatigued. The survey also found only 75 percent of construction workers believe fatigue is a safety issue, while 98 percent of employers do. The NSC suggests employers can handle this issue by providing education, adjusting policies and being mindful of long work days.
The takeaway: While fatigue may feel like an unavoidable part of life sometimes, contractors need to recognize the ways it affects their jobsites and act accordingly. A tired employee operating heavy machinery or carrying heavy materials is a safety risk. Using some of the NSC’s suggestions is worth your while.
Want to hear more about what’s happening in our industry? To help you fit construction news into your schedule, we put together a list of construction podcasts worth checking out.