Construction industry in flux: How crises and the economy shape current trends

February 8, 2023

Hardly any other industry encounters so many challenges and is in such constant flux as the construction industry. Despite the gradual recovery from the Corona pandemic, an upturn in the industry has so far failed to materialize due to ongoing economic and political crises. In response, architects, contractors and governments are forced to look for innovative solutions to create a sustainable and efficient future for the construction industry. As a result, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and the German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) have invested more than 170 million euros in over 1,200 research projects and 70 model projects as part of the "Zukunft Bau" innovation program between 2006 and 2021. From progress to date and upcoming challenges, a number of trends are emerging that will have a decisive impact on the industry as a whole. From automation and digitalization to sustainable building materials and green technologies - in this article we will provide an overview of three current and emerging trends in the construction industry in 2023.

The focus of alternative materials is on economic efficiency

The persistent shortage of materials in the construction industry to date is having a significant impact on future developments, particularly on the cost and availability of building materials. The high demand for construction materials and the shortage of suppliers alone are leading to rising prices and delays in construction projects. According to the Producer Price Index, prices for structural steel, for example, increased by 89.1% between 2020 and 2022.

In the long run, this can lead to a situation where alternative materials cannot be used due to cost and people resort to conventional building materials, which are cheaper and available. However, this can also affect the environmental impact and sustainability of construction projects, as companies may be forced to switch to less sustainable options to deliver their projects on time and on budget.

The cost-effectiveness of sustainable materials is therefore facing tougher competition from building materials and must be given more focus in the future to ensure both progress and sustainability in the construction industry. Sustainability and cost-effectiveness can be combined particularly well with raw materials from the following categories:

Recycled materials:

  • Recycled concrete from demolished or surplus concrete parts
  • Insulation materials from shredded polystyrene
  • Plastics from waste for housings and pipes
  • Recycled glass from waste glass for the production of tiles or windows

Sustainably mined raw materials:

  • Bamboo with high specific strength, durability and fast growth rate.
  • Clay for masonry, plaster or flooring
  • Hemp as heat and sound insulation with excellent insulating properties and resistance to mold and moisture

Local building materials: site-specific raw materials with reduced transport requirements.

Automation against the shortage of skilled workers & inefficiency

The acute shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry continues even as the order situation declines. To counteract this trend, many companies are turning to automation and digital technologies to optimize processes and increase efficiency. This is achieved by supporting or partially replacing manual work with machines and computer programs.

The automated construction diary from oculai

A steadily growing trend is the use of construction site robots that can perform repetitive tasks. Typical fields of application are drilling in walls, measuring, drawing dimensions on floors, reinforcing ceilings and others.

A special form of robotization is the use of concrete 3D printing to partially manufacture components and reduce the amount of formwork required.

The use of planning software and documentation tools can also automate and accelerate complex and time-consuming project management processes. A particularly high degree of automation is made possible by emerging AI technologies that are capable, among other things, of keeping construction diaries or target/actual comparisons based on camera data, for example through the use of AI-supported crane cameras such as those from oculai.

The construction industry must therefore adapt and find new solutions to counteract the shortage of skilled workers while ensuring high quality standards and sustainability.

Construction monitoring against loss

As construction projects are costed ever closer to the profitability line in the face of declining orders, but at the same time display greater complexity, manual monitoring of construction processes is becoming an ever greater challenge - especially under an increasing documentation burden.

However, with the use of AI-supported cameras, construction companies can achieve more efficient monitoring. With the help of such systems, work can be recorded and documented automatically. Reconciliation with the schedule is also possible, as well as the automatic generation of productivity metrics to improve costing and increase productivity. In addition, the efficiency and accuracy of monitoring is improved, resulting in higher quality and a reduction in costs and delays.

In the future, Construction Monitoring with AI-powered cameras will become increasingly important for construction companies, as it will enable more efficient monitoring and better control over construction projects. It will help to strengthen the competitiveness of construction companies and give them a competitive advantage over those who do not use this technology. Currently, the only system capable of mapping these areas and functions for shell construction is oculai's intelligent crane cameras.

Make an appointment for a free demo of the automated recording of target/actual progress and effort values!

In summary, it can be seen that the shortage of materials and skilled labor as well as the need for technological progress represent a challenge for the construction industry, but also provide an opportunity for optimization. The focus is on sustainability and technological innovations, e.g. through automation. It remains exciting to see how the industry will continue to develop and which trends will take hold in the future.

Constantin Kauffmann