Nobody likes the unknown. At the same time, changes are an inevitable part of any process. That is why today, we will take a look at innovation in construction. How was it changing throughout the years, and what are the predictions for the future? Let's find out!
Can you imagine a world without any innovation? Apart from technology, it is hard to imagine a life without houses, kitchens or bathrooms that we use nowadays. If you have stumbled on our blog before, you probably already know that we are fans of innovations. In Archdesk, we believe that modern technology gives us excellent tools to work faster, smarter and more sustainably.
But how has the construction’s innovations looked like throughout the years? In this article, we want to show you the history of innovation. But don’t worry, it will not be a boring history lesson as you have a chance to see what changed, where we are now, and how the construction industry may change in the future. Let's start!
It is hard to distinguish one specific point from which the innovations in the construction industry started. Of course, we could list all the critical inventions or mention the dates of the industrial revolution, but we believe that is not the point. Instead of that, we want to present how the way we think about construction’s innovations has been changing throughout the years. Mainly in the 20th and 21st century.
According to the Designing Building Wiki, the first stage of technology push lasted from the 1950s to the mid-1960s. After the Second World War, there was a strong need to focus on science and development to rebuild the country's economy. People mainly thought about innovation as a possibility to increase productivity and invent new ways of production rather than focus on clients' needs.
After the focus on economic growth, at the end of the '60s and '70s, the construction companies started focusing on the potential clients' needs. Innovation in construction was required to attract and provide better service and gain an advantage over competitors. At that time, innovation was considered as something individual, made by each company separately.
R&D and marketing
A significant change happened after the oil crisis in 1973, which impacted some of the developed countries' economies. Innovation, perceived before as individual, moved to a corporate research program approach. There was an essential shift in thinking from separate companies to the consolidation of projects.
Integrated business processes
The late ‘80s and '90s was when technology became an essential aspect of construction's innovations. We can observe here a strong emphasis on faster and better production processes with more advanced tools. Unlike in the previous stages, innovation is not anymore a process to manage but rather an approach to follow.
System integration and networking
The last phase lasts from the '90s to almost nowadays. Innovation becomes a crucial aspect of any company's reality, and many of them struggle to be perceived as a fast innovator and pioneer on the market. The whole process is speeding up due to the 4th industrial revolution and modern technology that digitises all construction processes.
Before we bring some numbers and statistics, it is crucial to highlight how substantial was the impact of Covid-19 on the industry. Many construction sites were closed while the funds for future investments were either stopped or transferred to support other sectors of the economy. That is why it is hard to provide an accurate prognosis of the market. However, we will try to give you a little bit of an overview:
Before the pandemic, the construction industry in the UK was in the state of continuous growth since 2010, amounting to almost 123.2 billion pounds in 2018. At the same time, the industry was among the least digitised sectors, not really seeking innovations. How is the industry managing now, after the whole experience of 2020?
In March 2021, the construction output was 2,4% (£334 million) higher, compared to the numbers from February 2020.
New orders increased by 12,2% in the first quarter of this year, compared to the end of 2020.
The annual rate of the construction output price growth was 1.8%.
If you want to learn more about the construction’s recovery from Covid, you can check out our article here.
Without a doubt, Covid-19 was a severe threat to construction. However, at the same time, it speeded up some trends and changed the way we think about construction’s innovations. Of course, after such a short time, it is hard to state definitely what the changes will be. However, we can already observe some general tendencies.
Even before the pandemic, there were many signs that digitalisation is a must in construction. Among them, a severe problem of an ageing workforce in the UK. Also, technology creates great possibilities, such as minimised risks of mistakes or improved safety on the construction sites. Covid-19 only accelerated the shift, making inventions like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence or Construction Drones and Exoskeletons. And probably, the number of them will only grow in the coming years!
The shift towards online solutions
Did you know that the popularity of online solutions (like office or project management software) was increasing even before the pandemic? Of course, lockdown accelerated this trend when many companies realised how hard it is to manage teams or work on construction sites remotely when not all team members have access to the data. Cloud-based solutions often offer all information stored in one place and, depending on their functions, their use in the UK rose even by 24% between 2018 and 2020!
The popularity of off-site construction methods
In the coming years, we can also expect a rise in the popularity of off-site solutions. Among them, we can list modular construction, off-site manufacturing and technology like Building Information Management (BIM) or Virtual Reality. These tools give a possibility to modernise and speed up processes without necessarily doing it from the beginning on the construction site. Besides being safe, such a solution can also be beneficial for your finances!
Taking into account the sustainability aspect
Last but not least, a trend that can innovate the way we think about construction is the sustainability aspect. When we look at the history of innovation, there has never been a clear emphasis on ecology. Luckily, times have changed. Due to greater social awareness and government's requirements, decarbonisation may become the most substantial innovation trend that will shape the coming years of construction.
Construction innovation is happening in front of our eyes! If you do not believe it, compare your business from 30 years ago with the way it looks like nowadays. Probably the processes, technology and information flow have changed. If yes, that is great! Innovation is supposed to help you work smarter, faster and better (in terms of productivity as well as well-being!). It would be best if you did not fight with the inevitable changes but instead, tried to benefit from them. Sometimes, you might need some help to do it right, but we are here for you!
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