As their role becomes more integrated within building design and construction, electricians and electrical contractors are embracing use of mobile devices and technologies such as building information modelling (BIM), a new survey conducted in the United States has found.

A study by Electrical Contractor Magazine (ECM) of its readers in the US shows that around 62 per cent of subscribers own smartphones and a further 19 per cent and seven per cent own tablets or netbooks, respectively. Of the respondents, 18 per cent use more than one mobile device.

Meanwhile, around 20 per cent of those surveyed say they now use Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology.

Driving the adoption of technology is a transformation of the role of electrical contractors, who no longer merely install power systems but are becoming an integral part of the construction process – a trend which itself is being driven by a move toward more integrated building systems.

A survey last year revealed that more than eight in 10 electrical contracting firms are involved in ‘design build’ or ‘design assist’ type  work and collaborate with building owners, architects and consulting specifiers, while the proportion of contractors who exert significant influence over electrical design is also rising.

“Electrical contractor market influence is greater today than just two years ago” a video on ECM’s web site says. “They are deciding which products to install, and they are getting involved earlier in the design build process. The electrical contractor’s role continues to shift from being a buyer and installer to a specifier and designer.”

Though the survey relates to America, it comes amid ongoing debate in Australia about how to best use technology such as BIM to integrate tradespeople together with architects, consultants, contractors and others together in a more coordinated and coherent building control system supply chain.

Last year, for instance, a report for the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education outlined a strategy for focused adoption and implementation of BIM and other technologies throughout all elements of the built environment sector.