Trends That Are Poised to Impact Construction
Construction is a dynamic field, and upcoming advances will noticeably shift many parts of the industry. From smart personal protective gear to self-healing concrete, the future is set to introduce surprising innovations to the construction industry.
Although you have tried-and-true procedures and strategies, you can complement your expertise with fresh resources and techniques. These trends can streamline your operations, enhance your safety protocols, increase the quality of your work and drive your performance.
We compiled this list of trends that are poised to impact construction, and the main changes lie in four segments — materials, sustainability, technology and safety.
Importance of Tracking Construction Trends
Just 20 years ago, construction teams relied on paper plans to guide their projects, but digital records now dominate construction procedures. It’s evident that new demands, methods and technology are regularly rising in the industry. Even within the last year, many trends have appeared, grown stronger or dissipated.
Observing the industry’s trends is crucial for construction professionals. If you aren’t aware of changes in construction, your techniques become outdated, and your business suffers. Although you can stand out in your experience, you can quickly fall behind if you don’t prioritize progress. As you service clients, you can rise above competitors through continual growth. Your grasp on the latest tools and resources causes you to remain relevant through the years, and developments can enrich the quality of your work.
Learning from useful trends helps you stay at the forefront of the field. Tracking construction industry trends can promote on-site efficiency and limit the disruption of day-to-day operations. For instance, modern, rigorous safety measures can prevent setbacks from damages or injuries. To lead the industry and hone your skills, master innovative practices and expedite your procedures.
1. New Construction Materials
Materials often limit construction professionals, but many emerging supplies are adding fresh potential to the industry. Strategically engineered supplies feature versatile and helpful features, like inflated steel’s light-weight but durable composition. With commercial applications, new construction materials can push past previous barriers.
Recently, the industry started using cross-laminated timber (CLT). The layering process makes CLT stronger than standard wood, which creates resilient panels. It has a low environmental impact and can withstand high temperatures, making it a cost-effective alternative for floors and walls.
Carbon Fiber Strand Rods
Carbon fiber products are also becoming widely used, including strand rods and fiber-based balsa. With carbon fiber’s flexibility and robust tensile strength, it can repair compromised buildings or equip structures for seismic activity. To retrofit buildings, rods consisting of thermoplastic carbon fiber reinforce structures and add an aesthetic appeal.
A revolutionary material, self-healing concrete, is altering the lifespan of building and bridge foundations. The formula is inspired by ancient Roman concrete, and the combination of ingredients withstands corrosion over time. After cracks form, a chemical reaction produces additional material to fill the fissures. Self-healing concrete fixes the common issue of cracks and crumbling structures.
Recently, it became possible to fill thin steel sheets with air and stabilize them. After welding steel pieces together, manufacturers can pump air into the pocket while pressurizing the steel. Inflated steel enhances the inherent strength and stability of steel sheets while keeping components lightweight. The possibilities of inflated steel structures are promising, particularly in roofing and bridges.
Filtration materials, like passive air-filtration bricks, can reduce pollution and boost air quality for construction clients. These breathable bricks remove toxins and particles from the air by directing airflow through a cyclone-like path. The rectangular concrete masonry blocks are arranged to form a barrier along with vertical supports. In the long-run, filtration bricks can save clients money and purify building interiors in places with poor air quality, like congested cities.
Normally, cement is vulnerable to chemical and water damage, but newly discovered properties can alter the aggregate. By adding charged compounds that diminish surface tension, manufacturers can control cement’s density. Rather than letting the cement retain a haphazard structure, cement is programmed to include deliberate molecular shapes. This leads to a tighter material that resists wear and tear.
Construction Material Cost Trends
In 2018, the cost of popular construction materials rose 7.4 percent due to increasing pressures, but input prices are projected to decline. Overall, the industry has been grappling with increasing expenses, and many contractors were accepting high costs without increasing client prices.
Policies were pushing the cost of steel and aluminum up, making critical supplies like beams and pipelines more expensive. The cost of steel mill goods was projected to spike regardless of new policies, but this trend amplified the change. Now, the availability and cost of these materials are evening out.
Rising material transportation prices have been contributing to financial strain on companies. However, natural gas prices have been fluctuating, but they’re currently falling, which could impact the current momentum of the market.
The cost of necessary goods like oil and copper have decreased in 2019, returning profit margins to a favorable level for construction companies.
2. Green Construction Methods and Sustainability
Environmental considerations are extremely important to the public, and the construction industry is incorporating eco-friendly practices to accommodate these values. Sustainable construction prioritizes efficiency in resources and responsible building methods. Also, tax benefits and incentives push these efforts forward.
Concerns about waste in the construction process are being addressed through recycled building supplies. To cut back on the large amounts of landfill waste typically generated, workers are reclaiming material from old buildings and repurposing them in fresh projects.
A popular trend, zero net energy buildings, takes sustainability to another level by attempting to eliminate energy consumption. Each site generates the energy it needs through solar, wind or geothermal sources. Various internal and external systems help these buildings become self-sufficient.
There’s a shift toward designing structures to endure, too. Long-lasting designs are accounting for future degradation and environmental disasters. Long-standing buildings can diminish the amount of demolition and repairs that add to landfills.
Over time, sustainable construction is cost-effective, especially for clients, and beneficial for the environment, as green methods release fewer pollutants into the atmosphere. Endeavors to decrease the carbon footprint in construction are positively impacting society and slowly gathering speed.
3. Technology Trends in the Construction Industry
As in most industries, technology has transformed how professionals conceive construction plans and craft buildings. Evolving technology continues to enhance construction procedures and open solutions to reoccurring challenges. From robotics to revolutionary software, the latest technology trends in construction are modernizing the most basic construction tasks.
Traditional surveying methods can have human error and take several days. Thanks to drones, land surveying is finished in minutes, substantially conserving labor, time and money. Now contractors rely on drones to collect vital data for projects, and supplementary software can quickly analyze the data they gather. Drones can also help managers and supervisors monitor the productivity of workers, and this surveillance is valuable for security purposes, too.
Drones make on-site communication easier, as the instant visibility of an expansive area can convey more than audible reports from workers. This maintains a steady workflow and prevents setbacks to schedules.
Building Information Modeling
Continually a popular process, building information modeling (BIM) has increased thoroughness in the exchange of data and development of projects. However, it continues to grow with the emergence of cloud systems. With streamlined details and intelligent multi-dimensional modeling, BIM allows every involved party to review projects without wasting time.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can prepare and guide workers through projects. These devices, which are usually headsets, can present the anticipated construction steps and simulate building models.
VR replaces the need for setting up intensive scaled miniatures of sites or for visiting physical locations to walk through the specifics or check on progress. Building owners and commercial property managers can also display their available spaces to customers without waiting for the project to finish.
Projecting possible designs through AR can give further dimension in the planning stages of construction. AR gadgets can allow construction professionals to interactively assess sites and walk through their intended plan before starting. This promotes accuracy, as teams can gather extensive information and catch miscalculations early.
The field must overcome some limitations, but 3D printing technology can offer customization and adaptability. These machines can form complex pieces or buildings in a range of materials.
Some companies have already been successful in printing entire structures, but the industry is still easing into the idea of printing materials. Large structural components can be fabricated onsite or at another location, so transportation is no longer a necessary part of the process.
As 3D printing gains traction in construction, it could reduce supply costs. There is also more certainty in production, as the machines can execute exact measurements.
While the medical field has understood the potential of robotics for a while, this trend is just taking off in the construction industry. Construction professionals can use robotics to perform precise physical tasks on job sites.
As robotics become more mainstream and advanced, they may be able to replace human labor. If the shortage of skilled workers persists, robotics could offset this issue. Several processes must become automated before construction fully embraces this trend, but eventually, robotics could play a role in welding or bricklaying.
4. Industrial Safety
Construction tends to pose more risks to workers than many other fields. In 2017, 20.7 percent of worker deaths in the U.S. private industry were in construction. However, improved safety measures and resources are working to keep construction professionals from harm. Additional training is a worthwhile solution, but new technology is also furthering safety efforts with intelligent monitoring and protective gear.
Falls and fatal encounters with heavy equipment account for many construction accidents, and preventive devices can catch these situations before they happen. Devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) can predict hazardous areas to warn workers and managers. Workers can avoid industrial accidents with IoT gadgets, specifically wearable electronics. With the real-time evaluation of the setting, workers can benefit from this reliable support.
Increasing personal protective equipment is another common trend in industrial safety. Smart helmets with built-in communication are connecting workers so they can share necessary updates on-the-go. Earmuffs and headsets with smart features can reduce noise damage and maintain clear correspondence on loud sites. Wearable electronics can relay changes in health to EMTs or signal a worker’s fatigue to supervisors.
Managers are setting rigorous safety expectations on job sites, and surveillance through cameras equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) is aiding the push for protective gear. AI can also learn behavioral patterns and report when workers are misusing equipment. Accountability can spur your workers on to pay attention to protocol.
Smart cameras are also being used to detect exposure to toxic chemicals. Contaminated air from gas leaks can be detrimental, but camera sensors with a unique imaging spectrum can rapidly pinpoint leaks. Automated warning systems can gauge the extent of the problem and alert those on the project site to get to safety.
Impressive Growth for the Future of Construction
The future of the construction industry is complex, but there are significant signs of positive growth. While there are setbacks, real output and the availability of emerging technology are reasons for optimism. Long-term, the industry is moving forward into a balanced state in terms of employment and revenue.
The most compelling indication of growth is the outlook of employment in the coming years. Construction is expected to have the largest industry increase in employment by 2024 compared to other sectors. Better recruitment and retention of employees can attract more workers and create desirable job conditions. Technology within construction is also generating jobs as more technicians and engineers are needed. The output from construction is also set to surge, influencing other industries like real estate.
Costs for materials and transportation have been high, but experts expect them to plateau. Contractors should be able to boost revenues as the sector expands.
Economic growth can offer construction professionals plenty of opportunities. Commercial investments from the government and increased consumer spending both set up construction entities for success. Concentration on green building projects is one factor in support of this upward trend. Remodeling, historic renovations and additions serve as viable sources for shaping the time ahead for industrial construction. The following years could bring the stability the construction industry has been lacking.
Keep up With Trends in Construction
As a whole, the construction industry has experienced obstacles but is recovering and moving toward a prosperous period. Trends in materials, sustainability, technology and safety are fortifying construction professionals and revamping their practices. You can progress in your industry knowledge to lead the way in construction innovation.
Remain aware of the changes in the industry to take advantage of promising methods and new technology. You can hone your skills and gain further insight as you watch construction grow.
At Houck, we are dedicated to safety, quality and performance. With over 70 years of experience, we are highly specialized in building restoration and maintenance services. Contact Houck today to request our construction services, learn more industry information, or inquire about Houck career opportunities.