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After stumbling through another year of the pandemic, we step closer to an ever-changing world where the traditional way of doing things slowly becomes extinct. This applies to every industry in the world, but particularly those who have traditionally been lagging behind when it comes to adopting change, with construction leading the race for last.

With the new year in full swing, experts are already starting to predict that 2022 will be a difficult year again for the construction industry, with demands for many types of construction set to shrink. This may be a good thing though for some companies, as the labour shortage problem the industry already faces is now amplified due to the recent surge in new cases from the omicron variant. Many subcontractors are facing staff reductions well over 30%, meaning that projects that were already delayed from the events in 2021 have no chance of making up for lost time.

In order to combat this struggle, contractors will continue to need to adjust at a more rapid pace. The following list describes some trends to keep track of in 2022 as construction continues to see their past problems become more prevalent, ultimately leaving some companies with no choice but to change the way they do things.

1. Green Construction Technology


The demand to reduce carbon footprints has been increasing since the introduction of the idea. One of the main initiatives behind this is the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification and its requirements for projects throughout the world.  

Just to give you an idea, in 2006 there were about 300 projects that were LEED-certified in the US, and in 2018 this number rose to almost 67,000. This exponential rise hasn’t slowed down and the trend continues strongly in the upward direction as more and more projects are beginning to look towards achieving LEED certification. With continued contribution from the government, contractors will receive plenty of incentives to continue adopting this trend and ensuring they are building with their carbon footprints in mind.


2. Prefabrication


Delivery of prefabricated material is seeing an increase in popularity, especially in 2021. This trend is just getting started and will likely be a driving force for construction in the post pandemic world. The main benefits of this form of construction is that it not only reduces waste but it also takes away from needing additional labour on site to build the project. This trickles down positively in so many ways, such as reducing site disruptions as well as mitigating safety incidents. Studies say that the prefab market will reach an enormous $160 billion dollars by 2023.  

For those looking to benefit from this trend, it's as easy as starting an internal pre-fab workflow within your own company. Think about any components that can be pre-assembled off-site and assign those tasks to lower waged apprentices that are supervised by someone who can enforce the repeatable process. You'd be surprised at how much time and money you can save by starting to remove some of this work from the jobsite.


3. Automation


Automation has been a hot trend in several industries and is now starting to make an appearance in construction as well. With the current labour shortages and the everlasting pandemic, contractors are feeling the pressure to find ways to make up for the lack of hands. This is where automation comes in. I’m not talking about drones and robots on jobsites, although that has already begun to take place around the world, but instead I believe contractors will begin to look for construction software automation to help provide some relief when it comes to the overhead required to maintain their workflows.

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The problem is that most of the existing solutions require extra overhead to manage and maintain, which is something that a lot of contractors can’t afford, especially with today’s uncertainty. That’s where companies like Ontraccr come in, introducing the industry to the next generation of construction software: Construction Workflow Automation (CWA). With CWA-enabled technology, the focus isn’t just on digitizing construction documents and forms, but on fully automating them in order to reduce overhead all across the company.


4. Collaboration Technologies


Coordination between the field teams and the office has always been extremely important, but even more so over the last two years as PMs and office staff have had their site visits limited due to the pandemic. As a result, there has been an increase in popularity when it comes to adopting technologies that focus on bridging that gap between the office and field. Despite this, in a recent study by KPMG, 82% of owners felt they needed more collaboration with their contractors.


Traditionally, the most popular style of tool suited for this would be a field management tool that has a built-in communication feature. Companies with large budgets will likely tend to adopt the more traditional and trusted brands in the industry when it comes to construction management, but smaller companies will have the opportunity to explore newer technologies just hitting the industry, which may give them a head-start over their larger counterparts.


5. Integrated Project Delivery


IPD projects have seen a rise in popularity over the last few years and there is no reason to believe that this will slow down anytime soon. Much like how LEED-certified projects slowly came into the market, I believe that IPD projects are going to become just as common in the next decade.

To better understand why, it’s important to know the main benefits that IPD projects provide. First and foremost, the project chartering aspect allows all stakeholders to achieve a sense of alignment on the project scope, budget, and schedule. This is essential as it prevents the project from undergoing late stage value engineering and design changes that tend to lead to significant costs. Another significant benefit is the early involvement of sub-trades, which means that design conflicts and issues can be identified well in advance through the use of BIM models. This also attracts top tier firms who are capable of this higher focus on modeling activities.

Finally the last main benefit, and one that may be a big reason for increased adoption, is that IPD projects tend to provide stakeholders with the ability to compress the schedule by up to 30% or more over traditional delivery markets! This speed increase is due to a variety of factors, such as an increased emphasis on pre-fab, but it’s easy to see why this trend will continue to rise in popularity.  

Closing Remarks

The trends from 2021 will likely continue on in 2022, with problems such as the labour shortage becoming more widespread. Contractors that have already adopted technology may look for more solutions to add to their tech stacks to help mitigate the impact from these constant struggles. Those without anything will definitely need to explore innovative ways to increase their profits, and accepting that they must change the way they do things is definitely a good start.

When things are hard and business is slow, there is no better time to explore ways to improve on existing systems and workflows.

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