Insights: Shaping the Future of Construction
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) 2023 Annual Conference brought together professionals from across the construction industry to discuss pressing issues, share insights, and explore innovative solutions. The conference focused on collaboration, education, and networking. It also allowed attendees to learn about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices shaping the future of construction.
Simultaneously, the 2023 CONEXPO-CON/AGG trade show showcased cutting-edge technologies, innovative solutions, and breakthrough products that promise to revolutionize the construction sector. With 130,000 attendees from across the globe, the trade show offered an unparalleled platform for networking, learning, and collaboration.
Timothy Andersen, Vice President, Construction Services attended the conference and has some insights to share about the future of the construction industry.
Workforce Development and Diversity
One of the key themes at the 2023 AGC Conference was workforce development and diversity. Several sessions and panel discussions centered on strategies to attract, train, and retain skilled workers. Fostering diversity and inclusion in the construction industry is also a goal. The conference highlighted the importance of collaboration between educational institutions, industry organizations, and construction firms to develop a strong and diverse workforce. Recognizing the growing need for skilled workers, a key takeaway was the role of vocational training in addressing labor shortages.
One of AGC’s key initiatives is the Culture of CARE (Concern, Awareness, Respect, and Empathy) program, which aims to promote a more inclusive and supportive work environment in the construction sector. By improving the culture, the AGC seeks to attract and retain a diverse workforce that reflects the communities in which construction projects take place, ultimately benefiting the industry as a whole.
Innovative Technologies and Digital Transformation
At CONEXPO, the integration of digital technology in construction processes was another central theme. Exhibitors showcased advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, IoT-enabled devices, and data analytics tools that streamline project management and enhance efficiency. The concept of a “smart job site” was widely discussed, with demonstrations of how real-time data can optimize decision-making and resource allocation.
The increasing importance of robotics and automation in the construction sector was evident. Exhibitors showcased various robotic systems, including autonomous construction equipment, drones for surveying and mapping, and robotic bricklayers. Among the standout innovations were several remotely operated job sites. These are operated from thousands of miles away, around the clock. Another innovation picking up traction is robotic exoskeletons. Designed to reduce worker fatigue and prevent injuries, they highlight the industry’s commitment to worker safety.
Several major manufacturers had electric and hybrid equipment on display, including a mid-sized excavator, and a 4WD hybrid loader. Many companies now offer numerous electric and hybrid product models, a trend that is here to stay.
Sustainable Construction Practices
Sustainability took center stage at both events, with numerous presentations and workshops dedicated to green building practices, energy-efficient materials, and environmentally friendly construction techniques. Attendees learned about the benefits of adopting sustainable practices and the role of innovation in promoting environmental stewardship. A highlight in this area was the display of modular and prefabricated construction solutions, which significantly reduce waste and construction time.
3D printing technology continues to make headway in the construction industry, as demonstrated at the 2023 CONEXPO. Several companies displayed large-scale 3D printers capable of producing components for buildings, bridges, and infrastructure. The potential for additive manufacturing to reduce material waste and enable rapid prototyping was highlighted. The technology is poised to transform the industry in the coming years.
Risk Management and Safety
The importance of risk management and safety in construction projects is always a top priority. Industry professionals shared best practices for identifying, mitigating, and managing risks to ensure project success and worker safety. The conference also emphasized the role of technology in enhancing safety. Solutions like wearable devices, real-time data monitoring, and predictive analytics will make it easier to predict and prevent accidents.
Infrastructure Investment, Economic, and Legislative Updates
The 2023 AGC Conference provided updates on the state of infrastructure investment and the latest legislative changes. Experts discussed the potential impact of government policies and funding initiatives, emphasizing the need for industry advocacy and collaboration to secure long-term growth and success.
Ken Simonson, Chief Economist with AGC of America gave an excellent economic and supply chain update highlighting many important takeaways. Economic recovery should continue but the likelihood of recession remains high. Homebuilding is likely to fall for several months until prices and interest rates flatten. Multi-family, warehouse, retail, office, and lodging seem to be at the highest risk from slowdown. Materials cost and lead time trends are mixed, depending on supply chain complexity, which is an improvement. Labor availability has resumed being the number one challenge for many contractors.
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, The Chips and Science Act, and The Inflation Reduction Act give a major boost to infrastructure, manufacturing, and power construction. However, money will be slow to turn into construction awards and spending.
The Future is Bright
The AGC Annual Conference was an invaluable opportunity for construction professionals to come together, learn, and grow. By addressing critical issues such as workforce development, innovative technology adoption, sustainability, risk management, and infrastructure investment, the event reinforced the industry’s commitment to building a more prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive future. As construction professionals continue to adapt and innovate in the face of evolving challenges, the insights gained from the AGC Conference will undoubtedly prove instrumental in shaping the future of the industry.
The CONEXPO-CON/AGG provided an exciting glimpse into the future of construction. With its focus on sustainability, digital transformation, and workforce development, the event highlighted the industry’s readiness to embrace change and tackle the challenges of the 21st century. As the construction sector evolves and adopts these innovative solutions, the future is bright for businesses and the global community.