Construction TrendsThe construction industry has experienced the growth and development of several key trends over the course of the last few years, and many of them appear poised to rise to even greater prominence in 2019 and beyond. For AEM members and other equipment manufacturers looking to better meet the ever-changing needs and demands of their customers, it’s important to consider how these trends will impact the construction industry, both now and in the future.

With that in mind, here are four construction trends that are worth keeping an eye on heading into the second half of 2018:

The Skilled Worker Shortage

Spending on new construction projects reached $1 trillion in November of 2017, and demand for construction work has been strong for some time. However, there is a significant downside to all of the growth the industry has seen in recent times: availability of labor is a major problem for many contractors today. 

A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders found approximately 82 percent of those polled stated the cost and availability of skilled laborers to be their biggest organizational challenge. It’s not as if most contractors fail to understand the importance of attracting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce. However, their efforts to actually address the existing skills gap leave a lot of to be desired. To make matters worse, measurable progress will require time, effort and resources.

So what can be done? Simply stated, a proactive approach to workforce development is necessary to help curb the ever-growing skilled worker shortage in the construction industry. And those contractors who explore and embrace a wide range of recruitment options will have the greatest success and stand to gain the most over time. In addition, attending and participating in industry trade shows, events and networking opportunities can allow companies to both attract employees and raise their profile among their peers.

Disruptive Technologies

Technology is evolving so rapidly these days. It's difficult for contractors to keep up with the latest, greatest and most disruptive technology, let alone the tech solutions most capable of helping them run their businesses more efficiently. Whether it’s artificial intelligence, autonomous equipment, drone technology or something else altogether, chances are it's a tech solution that will be affecting contractors' businesses and bottom lines (either positively or negatively) sooner rather than later.

One prime example is the Internet of Things, which is fundamentally transforming the ways in which contractors think about and approach designing and building structures. Industry professionals now have access to real-time data and analytics regarding machines, employees and other assets, and it allows them to make reasoned and informed decisions about their respective organizations. A second example is the increased prevalence of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones, which are significantly impacting how construction contractors go about gathering information, completing safety inspections and reaching informed conclusions about the progress of their projects.

UAVSThe construction industry is really only scratching the surface of the potential for some of these technologies, and it’s critical for contractors (and equipment manufacturers that serve the construction market) to invest the time and effort in learning how they will affect their businesses in both the near term and the long term.

Offsite Construction

The rise of offsite construction has been a notable construction industry trend as of late, and it’s one that has been gaining steam with time. A shortage of construction labor, especially in certain regions of the U.S., has led many developers and contractors to turn to offsite construction in an effort to increase efficiency and drive cost savings.

The U.S. has been influenced by a number of Europe and Asia, where offsite construction has been embraced for years. Now, many contractors, owners and developers are collaborating to engage in less conventional construction processes, largely in an effort to cut expenses and conserve resources.

Many clients consider offsite construction to be a preferred method of building, as it often means construction schedules will be condensed. Furthermore, building in offsite environments and in controlled situations often leads to increased worker safety, as construction employees don’t need to work at heights of great significance.

In short, in an industry where time and resources are always at a premium, the offsite construction trend is one to watch in the months and years to come.

Green Building

The evolution of techniques that serve to help reduce waste, conserve energy and address inefficiencies at building sites have led to the rise of green building as a trend of great significance in the construction industry.

Whether it’s building structures in more controlled environments, improving jobsite waste management efforts, Lean manufacturing, building material selection, or other factors, green building can now be considered an industry norm.

A recent report from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) found that 62 percent of residential architectural firms note that 15 percent of their designs are green, and the increased prevalence of modular construction is leading to less wasted materials and decreased construction times.

But that’s not all, even the equipment contractors are using on jobsites is making a difference. Many companies today are helping to reduce energy consumption and emissions by using diesel oxidation catalysts. As the exhaust moves through the catalyst, a chemical reaction occurs and transforms the vast majority of exhaust gasses into carbon dioxide and water.

Where this trend is headed in the long term is really anybody's guess, but it certainly looks promising as of now. And as long as legislation aligned with sustainable practices continues to be developed, enacted and enforced, the green building movement will continue to be a powerful and relevant one within the construction industry.

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