Historically, the construction industry has been one of the slowest to adopt new technology, clinging to old or outdated techniques and equipment because that’s the way it’s always been done. Unfortunately for those in the industry, the world has continued to advance despite construction’s hidebound tendencies.
Automation is emerging as an essential tool in a number of different industries. How can construction companies and the professionals within get ready for the inevitable adoption of automation in construction?
Understand How It Will Change Your Business
The construction industry might be one of the slowest to adopt new technologies, but it is also facing some of the biggest changes in the coming years. Automation, green building materials, and other shifts will completely alter the way we build homes and businesses.
The biggest challenge when it comes to preparing for automation in construction are understanding exactly how it might affect your business. According to the Midwest Economic Policy Institute, up to 2.7 million construction jobs could be replaced by automation by 2057. Nearly half of all existing construction jobs can be automated, including many completed by specialized subcontractors like electricians, carpenters, electricians and plumbers.
This isn’t a negative thing, though naysayers might try to convince you otherwise. Yes, automation will replace some entry-level or redundant jobs, but it will also open up the field for the workers that would otherwise be relegated to completing these mundane tasks, enabling them to work on more important or rewarding projects.
This could be a valuable tool to help companies offset the growing labour shortage caused by the combination of existing workers reaching retirement age, and a lack of new skilled workers entering the industry. The introduction of automation will represent a massive shift — but also an enormous opportunity.
Start Training Now
Introducing automation into the construction industry is going to generate a massive paradigm shift and change the way we look at things like training, as well as what we expect of our teams. There will still be a demand for skilled workers and specialist subcontractors, but there will also be a growing demand for people who are able to operate and maintain the automated equipment. Keeping an autonomous construction system is a lot different from popping the hood on a backhoe or excavator and calling your favourite diesel mechanic.
Instead of waiting for the technology to start taking over, leaving you scrambling to catch up, start training your crew now. It is the perfect time to start getting ahead of the curve and creating the team that will help your company thrive as this new technology starts to become more mainstream.
Reap the Benefits
If history is any indicator, the construction industry as a whole is going to be slow to adopt automation technologies, which gives savvy company owners the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the game, to find their automated niche and come out ahead of the competition. It’s the best time to reap the benefits before everyone else starts doing the same.
Automation will help to streamline mundane or inefficient tasks, which will over time help to improve productivity. It can also increase workplace safety by taking over dangerous tasks that might otherwise put human workers at risk. The fact that it takes over mundane and repetitive tasks means that it can also help to prevent repetitive stress injuries that are common in any industry that has tasks that need to be done the same way over and over again.
Looking Toward an Automated Future
Adopting automation in the construction industry will be a slow process, but it is something that is inevitable. Instead of waiting for it to appear and scrambling to catch up, now is the perfect time to break out of that hidebound cycle and get a leg-up on the competition.
Start making the necessary changes to bring automation into your work process. Not only will you establish your own niche in an already competitive industry, but you will also be ready for that inevitable shift from traditional construction to an automated future.
By Jane Marsh
Jane is the editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers green technology, sustainable building and environmental news.