As the construction industry emerges from one of the most disruptive years in recent history, it’s critical that businesses keep on top of the changes that are on the horizon heading into 2021. With the serious challenges of skilled labor shortages and increased construction material costs, it’s become more necessary than ever to shape a brighter and perhaps more creative future for the industry. Here are 10 of the biggest trends we’re looking forward to embracing.
1. Offering Service in Addition to Construction
In most cases, construction companies install the HVAC units, and then commercial service contractors will service, repair, and maintain them. Considering how much higher the margins are in service than a one-time construction installation, a growing number of construction companies are dabbling in servicing assets on top of construction because then they can keep returning to those assets to maintain and repair them, rather than passing that job (and high profit margin) off to another contractor.
2. Technology That Streamlines Both Construction and Service
As construction companies begin to offer both construction and servicing assets, it becomes doubly important to ensure that the right tools are in place to help effectively manage each workflow. Traditional construction management software is designed primarily for construction services, but commercial service software such as BuildOps can balance service with construction given that it was designed from scratch for both applications. By using the latest tools and technology, construction companies will be able to keep track of the growing profit centers of their business and maximize their revenue.
3. Increased Health & Safety
Health and safety have always been fundamental concerns in the construction industry, but the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic made it an even higher priority. In an attempt to create a safer workplace for both employees and employers, companies continue to implement a combination of personal protective equipment (PPE) and strict safety protocols. Maintaining smaller crews of separated workers and using masks and additional protective gear have helped keep work sites healthier and safer.
4. 3-D Printing
3-D printing is one of the more recent developments in construction, enabling the production of everything from individual parts to larger structures with the benefits of reduced material cost, less waste, and increased speed of production. The convenience and efficacy of this technology is being used in more and more commercial projects around the world and is even helping to address the housing crises in many areas through its ability to support large scale housing developments.
5. Remote Work & Mobile Technology
Today, various mobile applications give construction teams remote access to work sites that used to be impossible. Advancements include:
- Mobile capabilities for onsite accountability
- Blockchain technology enable user-verified, real time input of data points like transactions, payments, and changes to tasks or scheduling drone aerial views offer more accurate dimensions and safety insights
As COVID-19 forced many employees across multiple industries to work cohesively without a physical office, technician mobile apps and other remote technologies have become invaluable to commercial contractors of all types.
6. Sustainable Construction
Another increasingly popular trend in construction today is green construction. The main issue is that while sustainable solutions can help maximize efficiency and cost savings in the long term, these features can be expensive to install initially. On the other hand, they’re likely to become more affordable as they become more widespread and standardized.
Consider the fact that in 2019, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that renewable energy sources were responsible for 11% of U.S. energy consumption that year, along with around 17% of electricity generation. Those numbers are expected to grow, and construction companies are also likely to jump on the opportunity to utilize green construction materials and methods as adoption increases, which in turn drives down upfront cost.
7. Supply Chain Diversification
Supply chains have suffered throughout the pandemic, leading contractors to either spend more on construction materials or seek different suppliers. While there are many inconveniences when it comes to assessing and taking risks on new connections, contractors and suppliers should embrace the opportunity to establish good long-term business relationships. It’s also important to keep in mind that new contracts between companies will likely include escalation clauses, which help account for unanticipated future costs.
8. Biological Construction Materials
Innovations in construction have recently led to the creation of living construction materials. This may sound like science fiction, but it’s become an exciting reality. These materials consist of certain strains of fungi and bacteria, which can contribute to the materials’ durability and longevity. For example, concrete that repairs itself is undergoing development, which uses built-in bacteria that can grow in cracks and fissures to actively repair concrete. It can also help contribute to more efficient HVAC cooling systems by filling in pores more completely for increased impermeability as a strong concrete slab is critical to an AC unit’s performance.
9. Modular Construction
The modular construction market is seeing an increase in business, which is in response to combined cost-effective construction technology and labor shortages. Modular and offsite construction continues to grow and contribute to less expensive housing and commercial construction. In addition to their convenience, other benefits of modular projects include the ability to more effectively regulate worker safety within ventilated and climate-controlled workspaces. These advantages also further help workers comply with social distancing guidelines.
10. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is capable of lowering the cost of construction while helping teams to successfully plan and schedule projects. AI is frequently used in software to conduct analyses and simulations in a variety of hypothetical situations and environments. In turn, AI is invaluable in developing new safety protocols and minimizing the risk of workplace injuries.
The role AI plays in construction is expected to continue to rise in response to the workforce shortage that resulted from COVID-19 shutdowns.
Watch for Continuing Trends into 2021 and Beyond
Whether due to evolving needs due to a global pandemic or simply adjusting to natural societal changes, these trends in the construction industry are leading us into a future of innovation and efficiency. These are trends that will impact other industries beyond new construction, from HVAC and plumbing to home renovation services. Moving forward, it’s important to keep these in mind as you approach future projects, which will allow your business to thrive.
Learn more about how BuildOps can help you prepare for the future of construction with simple, innovative software for your entire team. Request a demo and see how we can improve your efficiency, visibility, margins, and customer service.