By Al Cervero
AEM Vice President
Construction, Mining & Utility

We do our banking online, check email and watch TV on our smart phones, manage our investments and apply for insurance on our laptops, and navigate unfamiliar routes using GPS.

So we have to wonder: why is it taking so long for the construction industry to adapt to new technology?

We see construction projects daily, and in them we see the beginning of autonomous compaction. We see the ability to map job sites with drones. We will have – and in a few cases do have – digital data sent to dozers. But when will it hit the masses?

Today, we have equipment managers using online tools to bring efficiency to fleet management through telematics. And this March, we’ll roll out a mixed-fleet telematics standard for every size contractor.

Maximizing that data for bids will be next. How will your equipment be bid into that project? Or won't it carry the right data to the contractor to be considered?

When and what is the next step for the small contractor? I ponder this daily as it affects all off-road equipment manufacturers. What will be the demand for integrated sensors connected with project management software? How will we transfer data between machines and onsite collectors?

Will this just be for big contractors? Or will small contractors adapt as subs or just to stay alive? Will our new millennial workforce demand it?

For OEMs whose approach is to focus just on the iron, the question becomes whether they will have customers willing to integrate this new technology themselves, or enough customers who just won't use it.

My questions flow and I enjoy the tussle with anybody willing to engage, but fret the many not feeling the need to do so.  How long did it take the buggy whip company to fail? 

This exponential world will transform our industry. The question is, when did it start (yes, it's started)?

So the real question is: when will it transform the majority?

And that is only the contractor connecting to the equipment. Imagine a 3-D printed excavator at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017!

Did you attend the AEM Annual Conference in 2012 when we told members about a customer who set up a Wi-Fi data collection service on their 270-square mile site? Or the beginning of mining meteors? If not, where do you get your disruptive input?

Wherever it is, get it. Tomorrow is changing.