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18-Month Tech Surge Improving Construction Safety, Productivity

An influx of financial investments, start-up technology firms and a commitment to developing new technologies has helped improve construction safety and productivity, according to an analysis from Triax Technologies.

Over the last 12 to 18 months, construction companies have responded to an increase in activity and backlogs with an investment in new tools and workforce development.

“There’s no doubt that construction workforce dynamics are changing, with experienced workers retiring and a shortage of skilled workers to fill those slots,” says Chad Hollingsworth, CEO and co-founder of Triax Technologies. “Organizations must learn to do business in new ways with less manpower, and that means leveraging technology to gain visibility across projects, attract a new generation of workers, and optimize worksite, safety and project performance.”

The analysis points to an increase in data collection from workers, tools and equipment as one of the key components of the technological evolution the industry is experiencing. According to information from Triax Technologies, these initiatives also create new opportunities for advancement for construction workers.

“With this groundswell of data, construction firms are creating new project control centers to monitor, analyze and act upon this data across all their active job sites as well as more tech- and innovation-focused positions, including chief data officers, technology/innovation specialists, and directors of innovation,” it states.

According to Triax, between 2011 and 2017, $10 billion has been invested in new technology. This year alone, construction technology investments are up to $1.38 billion. “These initiatives are helping to attract traditionally non-construction tech professionals to the industry, providing an opportunity to shape one of the last digital frontiers and apply technology to solve key industry problems,” the analysis reads.

CB Insights reported that construction technology fundraising is on record pace, up 60% from last year with another quarter still left. “As one of the last industries relatively untouched by digitization—that also happens to have economically vast, global significance—construction is an enticing target for VC investors looking for outsized returns,” the report from CB Insights reads.

Construction tech startups have concentrated funding on pre-fabricated, modular construction, with additional emphasis on AI-powered analytics and project management tools. Larger, “late-stage” companies make up the majority of the financing, according to CB Insights.

Modular construction company Katerra, for example, accounts for $865 million in funding, which makes up more than 60% of 2018’s total. “Seed and angel stage financing make up about half of the deal count in construction tech, though most of the dollars raised come from $100 (million plus) mega-deals to later stage companies,” the report states.

Another manifestation of the technological surge overcoming the industry is the proliferation of education programs geared both training, development, safety and non-traditional internship programs. According to the Triax analysis, Keene State College in New Hampshire is offering a first-of-its-kind construction safety sciences degree program.

“Emphasis is placed on critical thinking, hazard identification and prioritization, problem solving, cost effectiveness, professional skills in programmatic management, and safety and environmental regulatory compliance,” the course description reads. “Graduates will have the capacity to pursue graduate study or transition directly into careers in loss control, risk management, organizational safety, and consulting.”

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