Despite the early damage that the pandemic did to the construction industry in 2020, construction came roaring back in 2021. The year 2020 saw a roughly 1.9% contraction of the building industry, while 2021 saw a total industry revenue increase of 2.6%, or 0.2% higher than the five-year average.

Problems to overcome and new ground to break

As the industry grows and expands, it needs to come up with ways to adapt to its problems. The construction industry has a serious lack of workers, there are 300,000 to 400,000 job openings in construction (as of November 2021) on a monthly basis. Add that to the supply chain issues plaguing much of industry, and you have a few big hurdles to overcome. Fortunately, the construction industry is dealing with its problems head-on, and innovating along the way.

The nation itself recognizes the benefits that everyone reaps from the construction industry. The massive new infrastructure bill, passed into law late 2021, sees hundreds of billions of dollars for construction. Included in the bill is another 100 billion dollars allocated over 5 years to tech jobs in the construction industry.

The construction tech trends to look out for

Autonomous heavy machinery

With a shortage of skilled workers, this tech is a double whammy. Robotics have improving capabilities at a record pace, from flying drone technology to the famous MIT “cheetah” robot. For the last few years, one of the growing trends in construction has been the use of drones, but now, heavy robotic machinery is becoming viable. The autonomous heavy equipment industry expects to be worth over 15 billion in 2025. Presently, it’s valued at about 10 billion, so you can do the math.

Now don’t expect autonomous steamrollers and earth movers to be digging up your backyard quite yet. Autonomous heavy machines are much more likely to be something that can be used across multiple industries. The technology is still nascent. So what can you expect to look for in the near future? One example is semi trucks that deliver goods to various locations, including raw materials, to construction sites. These vehicles, like the nearly self Tesla vehicles, can have some degree of autonomy and work with their human drivers. Some autonomous vehicles used in construction can be used for excavation as well, but still in a limited capacity. As the technology which drives autonomous vehicles improves, we can expect more, and more complex machinery.

The technology is based on 3 main things:

  • LiDAR (a type of radar technology using light waves bouncing off of objects rather than radio waves).
  • Cameras and AI to recognize what the cameras see.
  • The technology at the back end which recognizes that seen by cameras and LiDAR.

As all 3 of these technologies improve, we can expect to see more and more autonomous heavy machinery in construction.

Finally, autonomous vehicles do not require a driver, so they obviate the need for a skilled operator. This helps make the site more efficient, and alleviates the perennial construction skilled worker shortage.

Wearable technology

Wearable tech in construction is a huge topic, covering several areas. We’ll break down the ones that are making waves in 2022.

PPE

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, just about everyone on Earth now knows what PPE is. Personal protective equipment are things designed to protect the person wearing them. These include construction mainstays such as gloves, hardhats, eye wear, steel toed boots, high-visibility vests, and thick clothes. However, new technology injected into this PPE is making it better and safer for everyone. New PPE includes tracking boots that know a person’s location, and can send out an electronic message if that person has spent a certain amount of time knocked over. Brainwave sensing hardhats can sound an alarm as workers become tired out on-site. They can also send out an alert if a worker falls unconscious from an injury.

Smartwatches

Smartwatches have been around for a few years, they do such things as monitor heart rate, speed of movement of a person, and location. Construction workers can have their smartwatches report to an individual or computer on-site or remotely. This enables them to be tracked, so if an injury occurs, and a heart rate spikes to 120 + bpm, someone watching the site will know immediately. This improves emergency aid response time.

Exoskeletons

No longer just the realm of science fiction, wearable exoskeletons are a pretty fascinating new technology. As of 2018, 23% of construction contractors believed they would adopt them in the next 3 years. Exoskeletons improve workers safety, decrease exhaustion, increase physical strength, and help workers more easily perform specialized tasks. They can make heavy hand equipment, such as demo hammers and impact wrenches weigh nothing to the person holding them. Don’t take our word for it though, here is a great list of some already available commercial exoskeletons.

Augmented reality

AR already has been in use in the construction industry for a while. However, new trends make AR no longer only something for stakeholders or developers in an office. In its early days in the construction field AR models could be created and sent to architects, developers, and more. These people could then strap on some goggles, and walk around their office, viewing an AR model building that represents their finished construction project. They might also be able to view the interior rooms of that building using the same AR.

New developments however, have made it so that the construction workers can use this tech as well. Now workers in the field can strap on some goggles, and take a look at soon-to-be built structures. Workers can look at the steel skeleton of a wall, or where one will be built. The AR goggles will fill in details such as what resources are needed to build said wall, as well as the steps required to complete it.

Continued and increased use of drones

Drone technology has already been a game changer in the construction industry. Construction contractors can survey areas, check on supply levels, and check hard-to-reach places. A quick drone flyover can send back detailed pictures and video. Then a contractor can communicate the progression of a building of a site with a stakeholder.

As drone tech improves, we will start to see bigger and more reliable drones. Drones will be used for lifting equipment, and maybe even people to difficult and high-up locations. Heavy lifting drones have been on the market for a few years now.

Get your project done right, and stay on the cutting edge

If you have a construction project you’d like to make a reality, then contact us today. We can offer a free quote, a highly-experienced team, and our style of “relentless cooperation” will ensure you know what’s happening every step of the way. Get your building project done right, with Reliable Commercial Construction.