Many people don’t like change. Even those of us who embrace and promote change dislike it when a monkey wrench gets thrown into our plans. We at OxBlue are frequently reminded of this as we promote the benefits of one kind of positive change, using technology to improve construction documentation. The many hurdles to inducing change in the construction industry include:
- A changing workforce. The 2013 American Community Survey found that the median age in the construction sector is 42. Many skilled workers left the industry or retired during the recession that began in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of younger adults entering the field is shrinking as more of them choose to pursue college degrees over trades. Existing workers are pressed by demand and have little time to train with new technologies.
- Tradition rules the job site, as you might expect in an industry dominated by older workers. While many tradesmen might get excited about using a new piece of hardware, construction culture discourages “techy” approaches. That attitude spreads upwards to supervisors and front-line managers as well.
- The temporary nature of construction projects. The only thing intended to be permanent at a job site is the construction. Therefore, there is little reason for the contractor to make meaningful investments in sophisticated systems at the construction site.
- Partnership concerns. While owners and contractors are partners in construction projects, the prevailing view among contractors is that owners may not be experienced enough to accurately interpret unfiltered information direct from a job site.
Although the construction industry has lagged in incorporating technological advances into everyday operations, business leaders and expert observers agree that new technology is rapidly becoming a competitive necessity. Developments like project management software, equipment-monitoring telematics, and automated documentation systems such as construction cameras are spreading. As technology continues to evolve, becoming less expensive and easier to implement and operate, its importance in construction and construction’s need to be adaptive and flexible will only increase.