The construction industry probably sees more changes than any other, as it requires constant development, improvement, and assessment to meet the needs of the world’s growing populations. From roads, bridges and urban planning, to creating entirely new communities whilst ensuring environmental sustainability, anyone working in this sector will know that no two projects are ever the same.
We’ve chosen some diverse topics and researched how they’re changing the face of construction.
As well as having an enormous impact on individuals and communities, the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017 led to an intensive public inquiry. This was followed by the release of more than 18,000 pages of material that’s changing the way buildings are designed, built and maintained. Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report of May 2018 was of particular importance to the construction industry, as it concluded that the building safety regulatory framework was “not fit for purpose”, which soon led to the government banning the use of combustible materials on the external walls of high-rise residential buildings, which came into effect in December 2018.
Needless to say, it shouldn’t take a deplorable event like Grenfell to bring about a crucial reformation of safety procedures, but this development will ensure significantly higher levels of safety for similar buildings that are constructed in the future.
It’s amazing how big a headache those four letters caused countless businesses back in 2018, as extensive work was required in order to ensure long-term compliance. The construction industry was no exception, with related businesses of all shapes and sizes overhauling their methods of gathering data and communicating messages.
With large construction companies not only working on all types of projects but also partnering with numerous specialists, the ongoing adherence to GDPR and data security is crucial, especially when you take into account that the maximum penalty for non-compliance is enough to bankrupt even the most established brands.
An often neglected workforce when it comes to mental wellbeing, 3,400 construction workers took part in a survey that aims to understand the factors affecting the industry and examine potential solutions for the future. The findings were rather worrying, with 34% of respondents saying they had experienced a mental health condition in the last twelve months, 73% feeling that their employers don’t recognise the early signs of mental health deterioration, and 23% admitting that they’re considering leaving the industry within the next year.
The survey was conducted by Ranstad, which also provided a three-step strategy for supporting employees throughout the industry: develop a culture; provide regular training, education, and support; and deliver added value activities. By focusing on levels of mental health within a career sector that until now hasn’t received the attention it deserves, Ranstad and other organisations are committed to improving job satisfaction, productivity and safety levels across the construction industry.
From the increased usage of drone video by quantity surveyors to the development of solar glass and enhanced predictive analysis software, it really is an exciting time to work in the construction industry. Not a day goes by without one genius or another inventing something that helps this sector immeasurably, from small water purification devices that transform underdeveloped villages, to enhanced machinery that halves the time of laborious tasks such as building bridges.
A prime example of digital tools being applied to construction jobs is wearable tech, with companies such as Triax providing wearables that can track the location of workers whilst on site, alert them of potential hazards, and immediately report accidents to the site manager. Meanwhile, virtual reality is being used to show how a project will look upon completion and allows fine-tuning before the first brick is laid, whereas augmented reality is enabling site workers to walk through the actual space and gather real-time information about their surroundings.
With the World Economic Forum reporting that the global urban population is increasing by 200,000 every day, the current four billion people living in cities is expected to rise to six billion by 2045. This means that construction companies require the capacity to respond to projects on an entirely new scale, which is already happening when you look at recent mergers and acquisitions, such as Bam buying a stake in offsite specialists Modern Homes Ireland.
What does the future hold?
With drones flying around, workers wearing intelligent tracking devices and planners exploring virtual environments, it seems that the future is already here. However, this is only the beginning of the construction industry’s version of a renaissance, with specialists around the globe anticipating many more major breakthroughs that will revolutionise the way we build, connect and evolve our cities.