The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has announced a new digitization task force aimed at helping facilitate tech adoption on construction sites. The main focus will be finding solutions for inefficiencies directly related to equipment used on jobsites. The task force met for the first time this summer, setting an overall goal for improving efficiencies on jobsites and identifying pain points to address.
The task force grouped the identified pain points for their customers, made up of contractors and equipment operators, into three areas: end user adoption and awareness; data sharing and integration; and distribution and service.
AEM emphasized that the task force will not focus on finding solutions for issues involving design and documents, change orders or contract management. All of the digitization efforts will be concentrated into on-site equipment.
Tackling digitization could be a step in the right direction for increasing efficiency. The overall industry underinvestment in digitization and innovation was addressed in McKinsey & Co's February 2017 report on productivity in construction.
Chris Hummel, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for United Rentals, thinks that the new AEM task force could be a step in the right direction. "Though we're not a part of AEM, I welcome the task force and anything that helps customers move forward," Hummel said.
United Rentals is already making advancements in technology implementation. First, it developed solutions to help contractors and teams locate equipment with telematics. Now, Hummel says, United Rentals is using a benchmarking service that allows contractors to see how much they're using equipment in comparison to industry norms. This allows them to determine needs onsite and determine how to move forward, be it by ordering more equipment or saving money by using it less frequently.
A spokesperson for AEM said that telematics were included in the task force's goal to increase efficiency through technology. Other tracking devices, unmanned and autonomous equipment and wireless site communications will also be priorities, the spokesperson said.
Hummel thinks the best work that the AEM task force can do is to create a blueprint or checklist to help contractors ensure they’re informed about all of the tools accessible to them. Contractors should be sure they're taking full advantage of manufacturers who are knowledgeable about equipment usage and maintenance, Hummel said. The more the knowledge is digestible to customers, the more value it will add.
Creating a playbook would give end users the greatest advantage, Hummel said, indicating that he believed it would yield the most positive results from the task force’s efforts.