Contractors expect more change in next 5 years than past 50
- Nearly 90% of contractors have faced risks related to shortages of skilled workers, while 67% have dealt with risks related to a dearth of qualified supervisory staff, found a new survey, "Managing Risk in the Digital Age," conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America Management along with consulting and banking firm FMI Corp.
- The study focused on contractor perceptions of risk and how they believe the engineering and construction industries will change in the future. More than 90% of contractors reported that the design documents they received were less complete than in the past, and 40% of respondents said they planned to move design services in house. Of those, 80% had already completed the shift or planned to do so within the next three years. Nearly 67% of contractors surveyed said the industry was going to change more in the next five years than in the past 50, but most construction companies said technology had not forced fundamental changes in their businesses, and less than 20% said it was "aggressively disrupting their business models." However, companies that believe great change is on the construction industry horizon are six times more likely to innovate across their businesses, according to the study.
- Contractors also responded that many of the risks they face today are not insurable like more traditional risks having to do with automobiles, workers' compensation and finished products, so they are looking to the risk management industry to evolve in order to meet their needs, which could include professional liability insurance for design services and coverage for drones.
The construction industry has made a huge leap in the technology arena, with the market offering up only one or two apps in 2011 compared to today's more than 2,100, according to Skanska USA's Stacy Scopano, vice president of innovation.
Building information modeling has also made great strides. Even technophobes value BIM's assistance with clash detection and other solutions to cumbersome problems, giving contractors the opportunity to identify design errors and omissions before they become expensive in-field repairs or redesigns. Once the territory of large general contractors, BIM has become useful and attainable technology for subcontractors as well.
For example, one concrete contractor in Pennsylvania, High Concrete Group, has integrated augmented and virtual reality into its BIM program so that owners and general contractor clients can better visualize the project and how it will look when complete. This capability allows all the stakeholders to detect more potential issues and better align expectations from the start.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter