Three Trends That Will Define the Future of the Connected Jobsite

Technological advancements in the consumer world are acting as key drivers for transformative change in the construction industry today. The opportunities are there for contractors to invest in technology and leverage it to improve on productivity, efficiency and the quality of the work they do.

The evolution of technology is ongoing, and new and innovative equipment is continually being developed. In order for contractors to be able to see a return on their investments in these offerings, however, they need to develop, implement and adhere to a strategy that allows them to be able to use it wisely.

 “Over the next 10 years, there are going to be three evolutions that are going to take place in the construction equipment industry,” says Joel Honeyman, vice president of innovation, Doosan Bobcat, a designer, manufacturer, marketer and distributor of compact equipment for a number of industries, including construction.

According to Honeyman, these trends will fundamentally change the way contractors conduct business. They are:

  • Connected awareness
  • Connected performance
  • Connected control

Connected Awareness

By investing in and implementing innovative fleet management solutions and telematics, contractors will be able to experience a connected awareness, one which will serve to maximize equipment uptime, bring about logistics savings on the jobsite and optimize labor. In addition, they will have the ability to optimize both equipment and labor in the not-too-distant future.

“Fleet management puts telematics not just on the big equipment but, in the very near future, on all of the equipment,” he explains. “Concrete screeds, pumps, welders – everything will have some kind of device on it. Not only will it inform (the contractor) the proximity and the location (of the equipment), which is what telematics does today… (it) will enable performance characteristics.”

Furthermore, fleet management solutions will allow for the tracking of people. Technological advancements will ultimately afford contractors the opportunity to not only track all of their assets, but they will be able to house all of their operational data on one system – one which will be accessible via mobile device.

Connected Performance

Simply being able to access information regarding there where employees and equipment are, what they are doing and how they are performing will not be enough for the vast majority of contractors in the future. They will want their equipment to quickly and accurately communicate how much work is being conducted, and Honeyman envisions a future where cylinder-sensing technology will be available on excavators and bulldozers.

“They will read the position of the sensors, they will actually weigh the material that’s being used, the trucks will weigh the material, and the bulldozers will know how much material is being taken off,” he said. “The trucks will know how much fill is being brought in, and the contractor will know how much work is actually being done.”

This level of operational visibility will transform how contractors run their businesses, because equipment manufacturers and finance companies will charge contractors based on how much work is being done and how much material is being used, as opposed to billing them by the hour or the day.

“The actual work is the actual cost, and that makes businesses so much more efficient,” said Honeyman. “Connected performance is going to bring about greater efficiencies on the jobsite. But more importantly, it will bring about predictable costs and consistent profits.”

Connected Control

The construction equipment of the future will look, act and feel very different than what is currently being used by contractors on jobsites today. However, the evolution process is expected to be slow one, and it will likely occur over a long period of time.

Advancements in technology will give contractors a chance to discover exactly what types of jobs they excel at, and it will allow them to make informed decisions about whether or not to specialize. Furthermore, as they are given opportunities to purchase and utilize technology such as autonomous machines, augmented reality, precise machines – and more – they will be able to work more efficiently and effectively.

“Autonomous equipment, in the future, for it to be efficient, it will have to be designed for the (specific) job being done,” added Honeyman.

Develop A Technology Strategy

Advancements in technology are not only improving the productivity of the equipment being used on jobsites today, they are also raising the level of quality of work being done by contractors and reducing the amount of rework having to be conducted.

“Ten years, 15 years, 20 years ago, you didn’t see this technology in the industry,” said Bryn Fosburgh, senior vice president, Trimble Navigation, a provider of fleet management and mobile asset tracking solutions.

“What you are seeing today is the consumer world is driving us from a technology aspect,” Fosburgh continued. “That’s something we need to get prepared for. We have become consumed by technology, but that does not mean technology makes us smarter.”

From an infrastructure and contracting perspective, the construction industry follows a continuum. It begins with the design process, then moves on to an estimate stage, then on to an earthworks process and finally on to a maintenance and operations stage. Each and every element of the continuum is linked together, and technology serves as a tool to ensure there is a seamless flow of data between the links.

“That digital continuum is important,” said Fosburgh. “We’ve got to have that seamless flow. That seamless flow of data is where we see the huge productivity advantage. But more importantly, it’s where we see a significant advantage from a rework perspective.”

Key Takeaways

It is critical for construction contractors to develop, implement and adhere to a technology strategy to ensure their investment in new and innovative solutions will allow them to do the following in both the near and distant future:

  • Maximize equipment uptime
  • Bring about logistics savings on the jobsite
  • Optimize labor
  • Ensure their equipment communicates exactly how much work is being done
  • Employ equipment designed for exactly the type of work they want to get done

“Technology helps us,” said Fosburgh. “Just make sure we use it wisely. It doesn’t change the way we work. It may change our workflow in some cases, but it doesn’t change the way we work.”

This content was originally delivered as a CONEXPO-CON/AGG Tech Talk, part of the show’s new 75,000-square foot Tech Experience featuring future-looking innovations that shape manufacturing.

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