The construction industry always seems to be a trade that is underemployed. With construction needs being so high, it is tough to always have enough trade workers who are educated and appropriately trained to be onsite at a job. Ever since the great recession, the construction industry is still dealing with trouble when it comes to finding skilled labor. With the shortage in employment in the construction industry, companies have to turn to alternatives to replace the duties that were once filled by actual people. Technology is being used as a replacement for the shortage of actual human workers in the construction industry.
During the years of 2006-2011, the construction industry lost around 2.3 million jobs, and today there is a significantly lower amount of residential construction jobs according to Tradesmen International. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows about 200,000 unfilled construction jobs.
An immense amount of pressure is being put on developers, contractors, and owners to fill these open positions in one way or another. Although there is a shortage of workers, the construction industry continues to be booming. In regards to the lack of employees, companies are turning to the technological advancements that can be put in place of the missing workers.
How Technology is Being Used
Drones and AI are the first pieces of technology being used in place of actual workers. Since drones can take 3D images in high definition and capture angles that aren’t able to be caught by a person, they have taken the place of one job. Drones have a high efficiency in construction sites because they can assist in skyscraper builds, home remodels, roofing jobs, and much more. AI or artificial intelligence is becoming more and more useful within the construction industry. AI evaluates the job progress and can even locate employees and the location of equipment. AI is useful is helping projects stay on schedule and keeping job sites organized.
Automated machinery is something that has been spoken about in regards to one day completely taking over every trade. Robots are sufficient in bricklaying, welding, pouring concrete, and demolition. Robotics are expected to be taking over human jobs eventually. Robots have the ability of programming specific settings, which eliminates the risk of tasks not being completed properly.
Collaboration tools and software are being used on construction sites to help keep the efficiency at an all-time high. These tools and software implement a system that allows construction workers to stay on task, as well as access the specifications of a job and change or delete orders and drawings. BIM or Building Information Modeling is an excellent example of this; basically, it takes a 3D or 4D image of any structure and allows it to be altered with settings. Similar to Augmented Reality, it will enable workers to see a job once individual installs are complete such as framing, drywall, windows, and more. This system also allows you to foresee specific problems that could arise, which means mistakes are kept to a minimum.
Off The Job Construction
Many construction sites are relying on off-site construction, also known as prefabs to provide their job site with specific materials and components that are built and ready to be installed. For example, prefabs can give a site with pre-assembled steel structures for the structural builds on office buildings. Many prefabs use robotics to create these items; it has been proven that robots can move and produce at a quicker rate than humans. As a result, they have been more efficient in production and job completion times. Also, it helps take the workload off of trade workers, which creates a healthier work environment. With robots creating the main components for a job, this now leaves the trade workers with the tasks of HVAC, plumbing, and electrical.
In the past, the construction industry has had a complicated relationship with technology because of the what-ifs. The idea of trusting automated machines, software, and robots with completing the most critical jobs on a construction site can be nerve-wracking. Thankfully, they have shown to be successful so far, but one mistake or mess up could be costly to a construction site and their job.