The global construction industry is an airplane that’s relentlessly battling both old and emerging turbulences. Despite the many issues it faces, GlobalData predicts that the sector will experience a 3.2% growth globally in 2022.
Next year will witness some common themes becoming more evident as firms look to stay competitive and overcome challenges. Here are some of the trends to keep an eye on:
1. Protective Equipment
Historically, site hazards and risks have been haunting the construction industry. In fact, 2019 witnessed the sector accounting for about 20% of deaths in the private industry alone. And a recent study reveals that construction laborers had an almost 5-fold increased risk of corona hospitalization compared with other industries.
So the year 2022 and beyond will increasingly usher in tech innovations that help with employee health and safety. And guess what will continue leading this pack? Wearable technologies.
Wearable technologies are becoming more sophisticated and customized to keep construction-related risks lower. A few items that more companies plan to purchase include wearable clothing, exoskeleton, and smart PPE.
Wearable clothing has been serving the industry for some years now. Clothing innovations like cooling vests and heated jackets take advantage of nanotechnology and battery to help wearers stay comfortable. These PPEs are also lighter, so operators don’t have to contend with extra weight. And thanks to advancements in battery life, they can serve workers for longer periods.
Exoskeleton technology has proved to be another great savior, especially for workers handling overhead works. Users can complete tasks without sweating too much, leading to optimal performance.
Smart PPEs take the cloud-connected sites to the next level. With these systems, you can assemble biometric data, alert employees to hazards and notify the emergency team in the event of a medical incident. You can integrate them into safety hardhats and vests without needing an extra PPE device or load.
2. Growing Need for Laborers
The construction industry is preparing for a hiring spree in 2022. In fact, 75% of construction companies plan to expand their workforce next year, according to recent research by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction.
But almost 73% of firms expect recruiting difficulties to cross into the New Year 2022. They said that filling vacant hourly craft and salaried positions is exceptionally challenging.
These issues are why companies are increasingly embracing technologies: Think 3D printing, robotics, modular construction.
New technologies are also attractive to millennials, as they grew up with them. So younger potential workers expect companies to incorporate up-to-date and innovative tools into workplaces.
3. Focusing on Residential Projects
The residential construction sector has been performing well. More people needed safe havens and work-from-home spaces to sail through the epidemic-induced lockdowns, curfews, and quarantines. So more construction firms had to up their game.
According to Globe News Wire, the home construction sector is predicted to grow over the coming months, despite the prevailing supply chain issues, such as the shortage and price increase in construction materials, inadequate labor, and expensive land.
Despite these issues sparking increased house prices and project delays, the future is bright. In fact, permits for future residential constructions have been released ahead of time.
So, what’s keeping this upward trend strong? At least in the US, the answers include Strong demand for larger living spaces, low mortgage rates, and diminished housing inventory in the market.
4. Technology That Keeps Project Costs Down
Often, budgetary excesses arise from costly inefficiencies. But thanks to technology, things are changing for the better.
Are you looking to show clients how the new additional features would look like before kick-starting the project? Virtual reality (VR) will come to your aid. Want some quick yet high-resolution images of a site? Consider using drones.
These are just a few examples of the power of cutting-edge technologies. Companies will continue embracing them to save time, boost processes, and support labor needs.
But while searching for technological options, many companies will want assurance that their choices will help them cut down project costs.
5. Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) continue to take the construction industry to the next generation of 3D printing. So expect to witness the paper blueprint increasing becoming a dinosaur in 2022 and beyond.
AR is winning the hearts of more architects and constructors looking to create 3D models of their projects. Pairing it with BIM (Building Information Modeling) and VR would allow users to “walk” inside the models for an in-depth experience. With AR, builders can overlay 3D BIM details onto a project site.
Builders can also plan and design their projects using a more realistic and precise model. They can view the building virtually and correct miscalculations in real-time, thereby keeping costly mistakes at bay.
AR also fosters better collaboration. Clients and project team members can work together in a shared environment from anywhere in the world. Furthermore, construction trainees can receive improved training in a simulated environment. The inexperienced minds don’t have to contend with real-world site hazards and costs.
6. Building Information Modeling (BIM)
More firms are accessing this powerful tool to take their game a notch higher. And thanks to cloud-based technology, BIM is expanding beyond on-premise installation and use. The result? Users are getting relevant and real-time information in all construction phases, even on the go.
BIM is also eyeing more dimensions: Think 4D, 5D, and 6D. With these extra features, users can get more details, such as construction materials, cost, and work schedule. They can also see thermal properties, geometrics, aesthetics, and acoustic properties. Thus, contractors and engineers can determine how these properties impact a construction before kick-starting any project.
7. Rising Material Costs
The prices of construction materials such as cement, bricks, steel, and concrete have been increasing. This trend is expected to continue until at least the middle of 2022, as economists at ING reports.
Due to the epidemic-induced value chain disruption, most construction materials’ suppliers have experienced historically low stock levels. The result has been increased costs of materials, thinning profit margins, canceled projects, and higher housing costs.
The good news is that the inventories are slowly picking up. Prices of steel and timber will probably decrease earlier. According to ING, these two products enjoy a transparent and competitive global market due to many sellers and buyers. Thus, there will be a direct pass-through in the value chain and price changes.
Conversely, the prices of cement, concrete, and bricks will settle slower. The reason is that the markets of these materials are more local and less competitive due to their larger sizes and weights- They’re difficult to transport across countries and regions.
All in all, the industry won’t be out of the woods until at least the middle of next year. This observation has accelerated another trend: The increase in innovative construction materials engineered to have specific properties. Examples include flexible concrete, transparent aluminum, and self-healing concrete. With these materials, companies can cut down construction costs and weights.
8. Modular and Off-site Construction
Modular constructions involve constructing a building’s modules off-site then taking them to the needed place for assembly. This approach will gain more attention in 2022 because it can slash 20% off the overall construction cost.
Firms can also complete modular projects 20-50% faster and significantly reduce on-site wastes. So companies are leveraging on modular and off-site construction to meet rising demands and plummeting workforce.
According to some estimates, the modular construction market will go up to $157 billion by 2023. This trend will be witnessed more strongly in the US West Coast, Australia, UK, and Singapore. These regions are contending with housing and labor shortages.
9. Increased Interest in Used and Rented Equipment
2022 will witness construction companies increasingly buying used merchandise instead of going for new ones. Used equipment with up-to-date software can be a viable cost-saving option.
Renting equipment is another cost-saving trend that will continue going up. With rented equipment, construction firms can gauge the effectiveness of different machines before they finally decide to buy them.
These two choices allow firms to keep pace with the ever-evolving technologies without breaking the bank. They can level the playing ground and allow small firms to stay competitive while saving costs.
Construction Industry Trends in 2022 Will Have Lasting Impacts
The above is only a glimpse into the near future. As more firms and leaders embrace new and advanced ways of solving challenges, experts say that most of these changes will be permanent. The results will be lower costs, safer sites, faster and effective processes, plus happier clients.
Many people know the construction industry as a sector that lags when it comes to adopting the latest technology. In fact, it’s among the least digitized industries.
But challenges are forcing the sector to up its game. Issues like COVID-19, skyrocketing housing demands, and widespread labor shortages have made firms realize how technology can move their businesses forward in this digital era. For more of the happenings and trends in the construction industry, don’t forget to visit Construction Fanatics and quench your knowledge thirst.