The construction industry is changing rapidly, are you ready for the future? Just one of many questions raised at the #Construct Show this year.
Matt Fochs led a session at the #Construct Show that challenged our view of the future within the construction industry. The underlying question is how we continue to offer value to our clients and stay relevant within the industry. The easy answer is that we continue to learn about new technology and adapt. However, that is not enough in a day and age where the 7 steps of product development now sometimes takes 2-3 steps or a few hours. It is not enough to just adapt if you want to thrive in an industry that is changing hourly.
Matt’s presentation looked at several technology types to illustrate the point. Think about the mobile phone and how it adapted. The first mobile phone was introduced in 1946. This heavy and clumsy phone was expensive and just made calls. It took another 21 years before texting was introduced. Then it took another 37 years for Blackberry to release the Pearl and the concept of a PDA became mainstream. The evolution process then took off with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Now each year a new innovative phone is introduced and the apps on your phone update on a daily if not hourly basis. All this while the industry struggles with innovation introducing wearable communication technology that has failed multiple times. This innovative industry is struggling with how to innovate.
So how does this apply to the construction industry? We are poised on the edge of a technology explosion in how we deliver product / value to our clients. It took us a while to embrace computer automation within the industry. We are still figuring out building information modeling and how to apply it to our projects. Now 3D printing has been introduced to the mainstream. Anyone can purchase a MakerBot Replicator to print pre-designed items for use in your household. From forks to toys, these printers are incredible technology. So how long until there is a MakerBot on a job site that is printing nails, hammers, studs? How does this impact lumber yards? What if we can print windows and doors? How long until the technology is inexpensive? How long until the technology scales and we start printing homes – already happening….
Change in our industry is moving at light speed.
3D printers are being used to print glass, concrete, food. The cost of a Makerbot is $3,000 + but you can purchase a hacked version for $600. We are not waiting for this technology to become affordable – it is here. We are not waiting on this technology to scale, it is here.
Revit models are being created that include every screw and nail that is needed for the project. Clients are demanding a higher level of sophistication in their projects. We are looking for better ways to design windows, flashing, roofing, communication, and hvac systems. We have entered the age of the iPhone for the construction industry. I can see a future that has no need for product manufacturers as we know them today. I can see a future where computer programmers are doing the job of architects. I can see a future where robots are doing the work on contractors on a job site. So how will we adapt to the change, how can we deliver value, how can we stay relevant in the future?