How COVID-19 Changed the Construction Industry, and How to Adapt
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives, from home life, to work life, to where we go and how we spend our free time. It’s changed the business world too, with restrictions added to every type of industry. Even as things start to return to normal, and different requirements are lifted, the pandemic continues to shape each industry.
The last year brought unthinkable changes in a matter of months. Companies have had to adapt at fast rates, pushing their industries further in a shorter period of time.
The construction industry has certainly changed in all of this. Not only did it undergo a significant shutdown, but many businesses, companies, and conglomerates have been affected by the pandemic in irreversible ways.
Here are four ways the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the construction industry, and how we can adapt.
Prioritization of Construction Worker Health and Safety
As should be expected during a global health crisis, concern for worker health and safety has increased. More regulations were implemented by OSHA to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. This included provisions for personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing efforts.
Such efforts and regulations have placed a greater burden on construction site managers and companies as a whole, adding to the list of rules that must be followed to ensure health and construction safety (as well as prevent violations and fines).
While more of the population will be vaccinated throughout 2021, these standards and expectations will likely continue for many months. They may even become standard practices on the other side of the pandemic, to ensure worker protection and to limit company liability.
The prioritization of worker health and safety is a necessary change in the industry and was propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Construction work has historically been one of the most dangerous sectors of employment, with one in five deaths reported by the U.S. Department of Labor associated with the construction industry.
This change is good but adds an extra layer of work for managers. Health and safety regulation is vital for any project, but time-consuming as well.
Through the use of artificial intelligence, construction managers can have eyes on all aspects of health and safety and ensure that risks are reduced. INDUS.AI’s construction risk management software recognizes health and safety violations, records them, and can alert a site manager so the situation can be immediately addressed.
COVID-19 added more for site managers to keep track of, but AI can fill the gap through automation to manage those frequently changing health and safety regulations.
The construction industry experienced a significant decline in jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many states within the U.S. have yet to recover. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 44 states have seen continued job losses in the construction industry, compared to rates from the previous year (and prior to the pandemic).
Job losses have led to a limited workforce, which has also been impacted by safety regulations like social distancing. Fewer people are working in the same jobs at the same time.
Slower Project Completion
Directly related, the limited workforce in the construction industry has led to slower project completion. With fewer workers moving projects along, construction cycle times are dragging out. This is partly due to necessary regulations for social distancing, and also partly due to shipping delays.
According to the Engineering News-Record:
“Companies are struggling with finding adequate personal protective equipment, ensuring that their workers aren’t sick, staggering work to limit contact, and competing for workers against stimulus-boosted unemployment pay rates—all leading to a less-than-efficient mode of operations.”
Though a limited workforce will certainly slow down a project. INDUS.AI’s construction management software system can reduce the amount of time lost. Artificial intelligence for construction can track wasted efforts, especially when it comes to the flow of materials and manpower on the job sites. Companies can then compare construction analytics over time and verify that the project is moving along as fast as possible.
When projects were halted, travel restrictions added, and production delayed, it led to a delay in the shipment of resources necessary to complete jobs. This has also slowed down projects and increased the cost of raw materials.
Increase in construction cost
According to an ACG report, engineering and construction costs have also seen an increase. Raw materials cost more, as does the cost of shipping in a time where many industries are struggling to source their materials from overseas (due to those aforementioned shipping delays).
The increased cost of construction can be directly tied to the three factors above, workforce depletion, construction delays, and lack of materials.
In order for construction companies to stay in the black during these volatile times, they need to manage expenses and efforts with great attention to detail. INDUS.AI’s construction risk management software can track vendor arrival and departure, including tracking truck counts to reduce error (and save companies money).
Here’s how companies can adapt using AI capabilities
If that seemed like a bunch of bad news, after a year of bad news, it’s understandable. But here’s some good news: like many other industries, the pandemic launched the construction field years ahead in progress.
The most important progression that happened because of the pandemic is that the construction industry is more readily adopting AI capabilities. In fact, AI construction management can provide a solution to each one of those challenges (and changes) that came out of the pandemic.
Worker health and safety can remain a priority, and be managed more efficiently, through the use of artificial intelligence. This can have a long-term positive impact on companies that adopt AI capabilities early on and implement them in projects. Where new rules and regulations could take months to learn and put into practice, AI can learn those requirements in an instant. INDUS.AI’s construction risk management software is already tracking social distancing and PPE requirements. If the world faced another similar crisis in the near future, the same strategy could be applied because the technology can adapt quickly.
A limited workforce and subcontractors can be managed more efficiently through the use of INDUS.AI’s construction management software, and it can also reduce time waste and worker inefficiency. Similarly, though projects may be delayed because of the pandemic and global shipping delays, the same tracking system can help verify which aspects of a job are moving efficiently, and which need to be adjusted.
Though increased construction cost is the result of outside factors, site and project managers can track to validate expenses with the help of AI. This will reduce losses in other areas, which can make more money available for increased costs in the industry. Plus AI can help dismiss false claims.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined what the construction industry looks like on a day-to-day basis, AI solutions are bridging the gap and ensuring progress is made. Contact us to find out how we can help implement AI into your business.