Re-thinking the Jobsite
By Greg Sitek
One of many problems facing the construction industries currently is the shortage of personnel and is a greater problem in some areas than others. The situation isn’t going to change or improve unless the industry starts to change the way it looks at the whole job site environment. There are the obvious areas of concern that the industry constantly tries to improve – safety, tools and equipment, access, condition being on that list. It’s time to look at whom we, as an industry try to recruit and the incentives we use to make construction jobs appealing and interesting.
A recent article from AEM’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 initiative probes this topic:
Make Room for Millennials at the Jobsite
Construction has often been considered one of the last industries to embrace technology. That is starting to change, however, as construction companies look for new ways to change the mindset of those working at the job site.
Enter the younger generation, otherwise known as millennials. They have grown up with apps and solutions to solve just about any system problem that arises.
As the industry evolves, it will have to embrace more innovation in order to entice and appeal to millennials—and those even younger.
Some of the emerging technology that millennials appear to be comfortable with that they might leverage on the job site include:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality
- Smartphone Apps
Fresh Thinking at the Jobsite
“Millennials have grown up attached to technology. Job sites today are so far removed from what millennials have come to expect in their daily lives. They expect new solutions to do their job better, to get rid of manual processes,” says Chad Hollingsworth, co-founder and president, Triax Technologies.
They aren’t afraid of innovations, and they are willing to try things out and if it doesn’t work, they find a newer, better solution that will.
One of the challenges is closing the gap between the more seasoned construction professional that might be more hesitant to leverage new systems and the younger, more tech-savvy generation that might not have as much experience with traditional construction methods.
“Older generations look to millennials for how to incorporate the tech into the job site,” says Paul Gomori, application engineering manager, JCA Electronics.
Moving Construction into the Future
There are advantages to having more software and devices on the job site besides attracting a younger workforce.
It boils down to improvements in efficiency and productivity compared to older manual processes, says Barry Peyton, product manager, Intelliwave Technologies. These types of enhancements can be measured and traced back to bottom-line improvements across the construction site.
“The right construction technology can centralize information and communication, improve safety, and reduce the amount of time spent on non-value-added tasks,” says Hollingsworth. “It is something that (workers) can use to develop their skills, streamline daily tasks, and ultimately become better at their jobs.”
The attitude and outlook that millennials have towards their life and job can help entice them to work in the construction field. Hollingsworth says, “Millennials want to add value, make an impact, and find meaning in what they’re doing. This carries over to their professional lives.”
What can be more rewarding than turning piles of dirt into buildings, roads, bridges and other construction?
Of all industries, construction is probably the one that is most critical to the continued growth and development of civilization. It is the construction industries that conceive, design, plan, develop the tools — roads, rails, terminals, buildings, bridges, etc. – that move progressive civilization from dreams to realities.