Contractors Increasingly Adopting Advanced Technologies on Job Sites

According to the Commercial Construction Index (CCI) for the fourth quarter of 2018, contractors in commercial construction are continuing to employ advanced technologies on job sites. In fact, use of these technologies is expected to grow significantly in the next three years. The index, by USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, details contractor confidence and challenges faced by the industry.

Among contractors surveyed, 46 percent admitted to not currently using advanced technologies. However, 74 percent stated they plan to adopt one or more of the index’s listed technologies in the next three years. Drones were the most popular technology, with 34 percent reporting they had used them on job sites and 39 percent stating they intend to use them within three years.

Every technology mentioned in the survey is expected to grow in use going forward. The results are as follows:

  • Equipment tagging: 16 percent currently use and 30 percent expected to use in the next three years
  • Wearable technology: 6 percent currently use and 23 percent expected to use in the next three years
  • RFID tagging: 8 percent currently use and 21 percent expected to use in the next three years
  • Augmented/virtual reality: 13 percent currently use and 17 percent expected to use in the next three years
  • Reality capture: 7 percent currently use and 16 percent expected to use in the next three years
  • Automated equipment or robotics: 5 percent currently use 14 percent expected to use in the next three years
  • 3-D printing: 5 percent currently use and 9 percent expected to use in the next three years

These technologies are most commonly used among general contractors and large companies rather than trade contractors, which is not too surprising. Among GCs, 73 percent reported using at least one of these technologies, and 83 percent of large companies said the same. Only 21 percent of trade contractors reported using any of the listed technologies. Also, 59 percent of trade contractors expect to use these technologies in the next three years, along with 69 percent of smaller companies.

For most, increased labor productivity is seen as the No. 1 potential benefit of these technologies, followed by improved project schedule and budget management, safety, workforce management and supply chain logistics.

The rest of the CCI echoed previous findings, along with the general consensus found by other industry studies in recent years. In short, the commercial construction market is robust and confidence is high, but contractors continue to face shortages of skilled labor and rising materials costs.

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