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Harnessing Innovation: The Top 3 Technological Gains Transforming Construction Today

Our world is continuously molded by the relentless evolution of construction machinery. The ability to shape our societies owes much to the advancement of technology in the construction industry. 

From skyscraper cranes to deep-earth excavators, construction equipment stands tall and digs deep as the backbone of our infrastructure development. A recent study from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) paints a comprehensive picture of the transformative potential of these technologies.

The Benefits of Construction Equipment Technologies and Their Impact on Society details four critical construction equipment technologies that advance the industry and enable benefits such as improved safety, sustainability, and economic growth.  

More specific to the construction sector, the trends identified in the study are: machine and grade control, engines and drivetrains, digital control systems, and machine telematics.

"Today's equipment offers incredible technologies for operators, and it's critically important for industry stakeholders to learn how to leverage them effectively and maximize their potential," said AEM Vice President of Construction and Utility John Somers. "In releasing this study, we are not only showcasing how today's construction equipment continues to advance our industry, but also highlighting the benefits of contractors and equipment owners adopting leading technology as part of their business practices."

In an era where technology is changing the face of industries, construction is no exception. Emerging trends such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), automation, and machine learning are driving a significant shift in the construction sector. 

According to the AEM report, these technologies are revolutionizing construction practices, enhancing operational efficiency, and offering far-reaching social, environmental, and economic benefits. 

Let's delve deeper into the top three advantages of these technologies.

1. Enhanced Worker Safety and Skill Development

One of the most striking advantages of advanced construction technologies is their impact on worker safety. These technologies are designed to perform hazardous tasks, reducing the risk of injuries and fatalities on construction sites.

From remote-controlled equipment that can operate in precarious conditions to drones that can conduct site inspections, technology is a critical ally in worker safety.

According to AEM's report, technology has led to a 79% reduction in construction worksite injuries and an 83% reduction in construction worksite fatalities associated with equipment.

Moreover, these cutting-edge technologies play a crucial role in workforce training and skill development. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) simulators, for instance, provide immersive, real-world-like training environments. 

This allows workers to acquire hands-on experience and hone their skills before they set foot on an actual construction site. Using such advanced training methods significantly reduces the risk of on-site accidents and enhances project efficiency.

2. Sustainable Construction

Another significant advantage highlighted in the AEM report is the role of advanced technologies in propelling sustainable practices in the construction industry. Machines with AI and IoT capabilities can optimize fuel consumption, minimize waste, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, further aligning the construction industry with global sustainability goals.

According to the report, over the past 30 years construction technology has led to a 96% reduction in NOx and particulate emissions per gallon of diesel consumed and a ~13% reduction in CO2 emissions per machine hour.

Telematics systems, for instance, can monitor various aspects of construction equipment, including fuel consumption, machine health, and carbon emissions. This real-time data can then be used to optimize machine usage, identify potential issues, and reduce environmental footprint. 

In addition, technologies such as GPS and AI-driven predictive maintenance can decrease equipment downtime and extend the lifespan of machinery, fostering a more circular economy within the construction sector.

3. Boosted Productivity and Economic Growth

The third key advantage of technology in construction is its economic implications. With the help of advanced construction technologies, firms can expedite project completion, minimize errors, and boost overall productivity. This, in turn, reduces costs and generates more value, creating a ripple effect of economic benefits.

One example is the use of machine telematics to improve uptime. According to the report, "Remote diagnosis of machine problems helps prevent costly down time that could delay projects considerably."

Faster and more efficient construction processes can lead to broader economic development. By hastening the pace of infrastructure development, these technologies can catalyze job creation, improve connectivity, and stimulate trade and investment. Thus, they play a fundamental role in driving economic growth and prosperity.

A Technologically Constructed Future

The construction industry's technological evolution signifies a new era of building, marked by safety, sustainability, and economic growth. With a profound understanding of these advantages, it becomes clear that technology is not just an addition to the industry but a necessity.

As stakeholders, it's crucial to recognize and invest in these emerging technologies. With a continuous embrace of technology in the construction equipment landscape, the industry is all set to create a more sustainable, safe, and prosperous future for society. 

As innovation accelerates in the coming years, OEMs, technology providers, and tier 1 component suppliers will continue to develop the next generation of technology that will support industry stakeholders and beyond. 

Additional support comes through positive and supportive public policy, including:

  • Strategic use of state and federal funding to create efficiencies and long-term ROI
  • Incentives to drive the adoption of new technology throughout the construction industry
  • Education of stakeholders on the benefits of construction equipment technology and their significant impact
  • Assurance that the enabling infrastructure is in place to support the implementation of technology

Adopting and implementing next-generation technology and existing construction equipment technologies will drive additional benefits in productivity and performance, planet and environment, as well as people and safety.

This is not just about building higher or digging deeper - it's about shaping the world with an eye on the future, driven by the powerful tools of technology.


Lift & Access is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.