Construction trends for 2022, what to expect?
Construction in 2022 is going to look quite different to the industry that we have known over the past ten years. The impact of the recent pandemic, of technology and changing attitudes to innovation are changing the construction industry in front of our eyes. These trends are going to be some of the most important going forward and will shape what the industry looks like in the years to come.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated the process of digitisation across many different industries. However, the construction sector has an additional incentive in that there is a potential 60% increase in productivity available to those businesses that engage with digitisation. Given that productivity in construction has historically fallen behind other sectors, embracing technology and digitisation opens up the opportunity for the industry to catch up – and pull ahead – where labour productivity is concerned. There are many different ways in which construction sector organisations can embrace digitisation, including:
- Live field data. Out of date figures and information can significantly slow down a project so it’s easy to see how live field data could deliver considerable improvements to productivity. Having the infrastructure in place to access this makes it easier to stick to forecasts and planning – and to bring projects back on track where they have deviated.
- Payroll and time tracking tech. Analogue methods of delivering payroll and providing time tracking for employees can be very time consuming and slow. Digitising internal infrastructure to integrate tech to handle this can ensure that time tracking is precise and payroll reliable.
- Paperless environments. Employees waste a lot of time looking for the information that they need to do their jobs. Where that information has been digitised it is easily available via devices no matter where employees are based.
As digitisation spreads across infrastructure and industries, we are seeing more interconnectivity and data being used in the construction of connected cities. These environments are fully integrated with the Internet of Things (IoT) and are likely to provide a considerable boost to the construction sector due to the number of new projects that will be generated as a result. Global smart city spending is already forecast to tip $124 billion this year and with the global urban population rising by 40% over the past decade there is no sign of the need for new urban development slowing down.
One of the biggest shifts that the rise of connected cities are going to generate for construction in the coming year will be the trend towards more hybrid businesses and greater collaboration. Construction enterprises are going to need to be able to offer more than just building and architectural services – this will necessitate an expansion to also include more IoT experts. Collaboration with data scientists is also going to be vital to bring data insight and analytics skills swiftly into businesses where they may not currently be readily available. Urban development also requires the input of those who use it and so connected cities could also see a lot more collaboration between construction businesses and the public.
On an individual business level, some construction trends are going to make a big difference to health and safety for organisations that choose to invest in them next year. Wearables are a type of tech that can contribute to a considerable upgrade in site safety standards. Given that the construction sector is responsible for a large proportion of the fatal workplace accidents that occur every year, wearables are a trend that could help many firms make changes for the better. Wearables is a very accessible trend for any construction business – these are some of the most common options available:
- Smartwatches. The use of smartwatches is not limited to just monitoring individual health and fitness. This type of tech has powerful sensors that can also be used to detect falls, facilitate communication and trigger emergency alerts.
- Smart boots. For anyone working on a construction site, effective footwear is a must. Smart boots not only protect the feet but also provide alerts on small shocks or falls and help to track worker movements.
- Smart bodywear. A layer of smart bodywear can be used to monitor temperature, for example, or as an exoskeleton to provide support when lifting heavy items.
- Smart hard hats. A sensor fitted around the rim of a hard hat can transform it into a way to monitor for dangerous changes, such as microsleeps.
- Safety glasses. As well as protecting the eyes, smart safety glasses can also deliver timely warnings and data when workers are moving around a site.
The trend towards the use of sustainable materials in building projects is already underway as businesses across the sector look for ways to reduce carbon footprints and appeal to the broad spectrum of clients who now expect a more eco approach. Sustainable materials are an incredibly innovative area and these are just some of the options already in circulation:
- Insulation. Using sustainable materials, such as hemp, reduces the toxic chemicals involved in the process of insulating buildings and also delivers a big drop in energy wastage.
- Solar panels. Solar tech is increasingly vital in terms of reducing the building’s reliance on nonrenewable energy.
- Smart glass. The use of smart glass means that windows respond to the seasons and the ambient temperature in the interior, blocking light out to cool interiors down and becoming transparent in the months when heating might need a little help.
- Bamboo flooring. Replacing wood flooring with bamboo produces much more sustainable results as bamboo has a harvest cycle of just three years, compared to 25 for other types of wood.
- Composite roofing shingles. As these roof tiles last a lot longer they tend to be a more sustainable choice and require minimal maintenance.
From digitisation and the evolution of connected cities to the many different options for on-site wearables and sustainable building materials, these are just some of the key trends that are going to shape the construction sector in 2022.