As the final quarter of 2020 begins, Procore released a report summarising the changes to have hit the construction industry this year, including its most daunting challenges and most promising future opportunities.
260 construction firms were surveyed for this report, 29 per cent of those based in Victoria/Tasmania. The surveyed companies come from all sectors of the industry—small to large businesses, commercial to residential builders, industrial to infrastructure builders.
The pandemic has had, unsurprisingly, significant impact on business confidence. The businesses most hit by the pandemic are small businesses with 1-10 employees, their confidence more than halved since the pandemic started. 36 per cent of small businesses are considering closing down, not far off from the industry-wide average of 33 per cent.
For the most part, the greatest concerns across all sizes of businesses have only become grown since last year:
Firms are increasingly turning their focus onto investing in technologies which can alleviate the pressure on their businesses, relying on automation to help manage risk on site, improve productivity and reduce the volume of materials on site.
The most popular field for technological investment is currently pre-fabricated parts at an overwhelming 44 per cent. Building Information Modelling/Computer-Aided Design (BIM/CAD) trails after prefab at 33 per cent, then digital project management, integrated construction management platforms and 3D printing.
Inevitably, the increased use of technology will push out some jobs, a concern in an already unstable job environment. Many employees of small businesses have had their wages cut down to the minimum JobKeeper allowance—but large firms (100+ employees) are not escaping the impact either, with some executives' paycheques taking the hit to alleviate the burden on the rest of the business.
In response to this, many agree that employees of the future will require broader skillsets to keep up with technological advancements, particularly a shift away from more labour-intensive skills.
Large construction firms, in particular, have seen a sharp spike of interest since last year in labour-free construction—i.e., construction that is operated by technology only, with no input of human labour.
The road to labour-free construction is not so straightforward, however, and requires careful implementation of new technologies. 34 per cent of companies indicated that training subcontractors on their usage is one of the most challenging parts of implementing new technologies. There a significant demand among these firms for more intuitive new technologies that have a smoother learning curve.
As the construction industry moves to a more automated future and takes on big data trends, the management of digitised data is increasingly an important element. The majority of businesses are cutting back on their use of paper-based records, but critical information remains stored away in inefficient mediums. Businesses of all sizes are seeing benefits, such as cost-reduction, higher productivity, improved regulatory compliance and better customer experience, in investing data capture. (ET)
All info and graphs are obtained from https://www.procore.com/en-au/ebooks/how-we-build-now-2020