On the first day of the NECA Convention and Trade Show, Andy Lambert, the director of product for One-Key & construction technology at Milwaukee Tool, presented to an audience of electrical contractors about the biggest challenges the electrical industry will face this year and beyond – and what trends are likely to result in the face of those challenges.
First, Lambert gave a historical overview of the various industrial revolutions that changed how the world works, builds, and communicates. For example, the second industrial revolution brought about electrification, which was the start of the electrical industry as we know it today. He likens it to the recent passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will power the trades to build the next generation of infrastructure. “It’s no different than what happened in the second industrial revolution when we started to build infrastructure for electrification.”
Next, Lambert discussed the biggest challenges the electrical industry faces in 2022, which the industry must address. Those challenges are environmental sustainability, labor shortages, rising material costs, and supply chain issues. Lambert then pointed to the emerging trends that will tackle those challenges.
Sustainable job-site practices. The electrical industry is ripe to see progress in terms of green cities, materials, renovation, and systems, along with an increase in LEED certifications for buildings.
Addressing labor shortages. Solutions such as inventory management software, connected power tools to increase repeatability/accuracy on the job site, marketing the construction industry to a diverse workforce (including women and minorities), and updating recruitment channels will aid in this area.
Rising material costs. Several trends are bound to tackle this issue, including inventory management software, 3D building information modeling (BIM), off-site and modular construction, wireless tools/equipment tracking, and cloud-based software and data integrations. Lambert also anticipates more contractors will implement lean construction principles to help offset material costs.
Technological advancements. Improvements in artificial intelligence will help alleviate both supply chain and labor strains. Technology such as exoskeletons that contractors wear can help reduce overhead strain and worker fatigue, keeping the current workforce healthier and more productive.
The new frontier of job sites. Cordless tools and connected job-site tools (e.g. inventory and crew management, tool tracking, and data integration) will help drive a more productive job site.
In summary, Lambert says 2022 construction trends will address big-scale, industry-wide challenges. Technology will play a significant role to solve these long-term issues, along with proactive solutions and connected job sites.