On October 24th, Triax joined JBKnowledge and the ConTechCrew in Dallas for their fourth roadshow, an event dedicated to educating the construction industry on all things tech. Over the course of  six sessions, the ConTechCrew and other guest speakers provided strategic and tactical advice on adopting new and emerging construction technologies. Our Marketing Manager attended the roadshow and wrote down key highlights from the day’s sessions, which she’s shared here. Read on for her recap.

The day kicked off with a “Future Technology in Construction” keynote from James Benham, Josh Bone and Jeff Sample, who highlighted their favorite, promising construction technologies from 2017. During the keynote, James shared two staggering statistics:

  1. Over the next 30 years, Texas will need to build a new city of 700,000 every year to keep up with rising birth rates and immigration. With those numbers, the industry will have to look to emerging, efficient solutions, such as 3D printing, to meet demand.
  2. According to the AGC, the industry is short 630,000 workers this year. As workforce demographics change, and talent “retires out,” crucial field knowledge and experience is leaving with them. Reality capture, for example, has the potential to connect newer workers in the field to the back office in real-time, so valuable assistance can be provided as workers gain experience. Bottom line: regardless of the method, contractors need to leverage technology to keep up with rising demand.

Our Own Worst Enemy

As is often cited, but is worth restating, construction underspends cross-industries roughly 60-70% when it comes to IT, according to JBKnowledge’s 2016 Construction Technology Report. This figure is often dismissed because construction is a “low margin industry” that doesn’t have the extra resources to spend on construction technology. While it is undoubtedly true that construction is a fast-moving, results-driven sector, Benham’s keynote argued that fact alone cannot be a reason to adapt and embrace technological change. Transportation, for example, is an industry with less than 1% profit margins, and spends more on technology.

As is often the case, construction suffers from inertia. Skeptics or laggards of jobsite technology adoption often contend that construction is the world’s oldest industry, and that having accomplished so much, there’s something to be said for sticking with what’s worked. Which brings us to…

Tech That Drives ROI

In construction, like any business, the question always boils down to where – and how – can we make more money. When evaluating construction technology, firms often ask “where’s the return on” in “return on investment?” Benham recommended thinking in 5-minute increments when it comes to ROI – if you look too far ahead, you’ll find yourself in a holding pattern where you’re afraid to take a chance on a new technology or process that will pay dividends in the long term. If, for example, saving your workers 5 minutes each day – which could be as simple as bringing the trailer or lunch spot closer to the jobsite so there is less distance to travel – could add 1% back to your bottom line.

In construction, there is a constant conflict of “if it changes so quickly, when do we invest?” The crucial thing to remember is that the industry is on the steep side of the hockey stick meaning that change is exponential from this point on. Ultimately, you need to be willing to do something different – and do it now. Things will only continue to change, so it’s essential to try a combination of experimental and practical solutions in the here and now.