Interesting thoughts on construction tech recently from the Huffington Post: in an article discussing EquipmentShare (now included on our list of AEC tech startups on our Resources page here at AEC Labs), HuffPo notes how most contractors’ equipment (like your car, or even your apartment) sits unused 70 percent of the time, meaning builders aren’t getting the best bang for their buck. Compounding that are maintenance costs (5 to 25 percent of a machine’s value per year). To get at these inefficiencies, EquipmentShare went ahead and built its own platform called ES Track, which gives contractors information about fluid levels, pressures, locations, and other important metrics on their machines.

HuffPo also notes that the IOT, telematics (data), and peer-to-peer rentals, along with autonomous machines and accompanying decreasing costs of ownership of expensive construction equipment, could help the industry create $6.2 trillion in economic benefits by 2025. As HuffPo notes, the impacts of data and P2P solutions are broader than simply equipment rentals:

“Tech’s place in the construction industry doesn’t stop at generating telematics and enabling peer-to-peer rentals. In coming years, contractors can look forward to decreasing ownership costs and autonomous machines. As contractors connect with one another more easily, renting will become less expensive for those needing machines and more profitable for those renting them out. Machines should pay back about 25 percent of their purchase price annually, and tech-enabled rentals make this goal more achievable. Automation, too, has already begun to make its mark on construction. As companies struggle to find skilled hands, organizations like Komatsu have automated dozers, backhoes, and more to cut the need for manual labor and the time it takes to complete projects.”

Automation, I think, is the key. For example, whenever I walk by one of the dozens of construction sites here in Seattle, I can’t help but think about how technology could utterly transform the way we build projects. From drones taking progress photos or delivering materials instead of cranes, alongside autonomous trucks, to even robots that could someday replace manual laborers, the amount of savings, time efficiencies, and safety improvements that technology could ultimately bring to a job site is staggering.

As always, we’ll have much more to say about these issues here at AEC Labs in the coming weeks!