By Karen L. Edwards, RoofersCoffeeShop® Editor.
Contractors believe that new technologies like drones, augmented reality, artificial intelligence will be useful for productivity and improved safety on jobsites.
Throughout the year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and USG Corporation survey contractors and release a quarterly report detailing their findings. In the recently published Q4 report, contractors shared that the lack of skilled labor is impacting productivity, scheduling and safety. They are searching for new innovations and solutions to address the labor issue.
The Q4 report explored the topic of technology on the jobsite and found that contractors believe that new technologies like drones, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and more will be useful for productivity and improved safety on jobsites. Their show that 74 percent of contractors expect the adoption of technologies to grow quickly over the next few years.
Contractors were asked about their use of advanced technologies and 54% reported that they have used at least one of the following technologies on their jobsite, with drones being the most widely used.
- Drones – 34%
- Equipment tagging – 16%
- Wearable technology – 6%
- RFID Tagging – 8%
- Augmented and/or virtual reality – 13%
- Reality capture – 7%
- Automated equipment or robotics – 5%
- 3D printing – 5%
- Not using any of the above – 46%, with 26% indicating that they plan to implement in the near future
The use of these advanced technologies is more prevalent among general contractors than trade contractors. Seventy-three percent of GCs reported that they use at least one of the advanced technologies and usage is expected to grow faster by GCs (to 85%) and larger contractors than by smaller contractors and the trades (59%).
Since many of these technologies are just emerging in the construction industry the study questioned contractors to find out the top three benefits that would encourage them to adopt a new technology. They indicated that labor productivity (66%) is by far the biggest benefit that would convince them to invest in a technology. Schedule, budget and safety were close behind.
Seventy-five percent of contractors surveyed believe that advanced technologies like equipment tagging, robotics and wearable tech can be useful to improve labor productivity and manage project schedules.
Other trends show that at least ¾ of the large companies expected to hire more workers in the next six months where only about half of mid-sized and smaller companies plan to do so. Finding skilled workers remains a challenge with well over half of respondents reporting difficulty. Interestingly, contractors in the western U.S. report a higher level of difficulty (70%) versus their counterparts in the rest of the country, which ranges from 52 – 58 percent. One survey respondent said, “My single most important concern about my business in the next 12 months is hiring the right people and keeping the right people.”
For the purposes of the Commercial Construction Index, the report defines commercial construction as the following types of buildings: office, retail, hospitality, education, healthcare, multifamily residential (mid-and high-rise), government, warehouses, airport terminals and other transportation buildings.
Check out the full Q4 report here.