Top trends in the construction industry 2020

How will the construction industry develop in 2020? What trends will determine the industry? And what does that mean for you? We have studied and evaluated numerous sources – discover with us the most important trends and developments in the construction industry in 2020.

1. Building planning: digital for optimized workflow
2. ERP and CRM systems: How to make better use of data resources
3. Project management software: smart tools for fast teams
4. IoT: building with wireless intelligence
5. Revolution in the construction industry: artificial intelligence
6. BIM: Solving problems proactively and reducing costs
7. Many team players, much data: one cloud for all
8. See more, plan better: thanks to Augmented Reality
9. Take-off: during planning, controlling and commercialization – with drones
10. Mega-trend in the construction industry: the 3D-printed building
11. Closing contracts: simple, safe and efficient with blockchain technology
12. Robotics: colleagues with muscles of steel
13. Puzzle on the construction site: modular building with prefabrication in factories
14. Sustainability: Building becomes greener
15. Natural building materials: for more well-being
16. The critical side of the boom: rising construction costs
17. Virtual reality for more safety on the construction site
18. Fewer employees in the German construction industry
19. Clear trend: less building construction – more underground construction
20. Forecasts: How the construction industry in Germany will develop in 2020

Software in the construction industry

Erdbeben-Vorhersage-Software

1. Building planning: digital for optimized workflow

New interfaces open up further synergies. Take the example of EnEV calculation: Previously, every specialist planner had to enter the buildings for his planning services anew. With the “eLCA” interface, it will be possible in the future to integrate building eco-balancing into the digital workflow of construction planning. Now the data already recorded for the EnEV certificate can be used as the basis for a building eco-balance. This synergy considerably reduces the workload.

2. ERP and CRM systems: How to make better use of data resources

The construction industry is beginning to discover digital aids for itself, which have long been standard in other industries. For example, in merchandise management and customer management. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems promote faster, better and more economical work. If you use these tools in parallel, you should attach importance to integrating the systems on both sides. Then resources are better managed and business processes are made more efficient, as double data storage and data maintenance is avoided.
The difference between the two systems is that the CRM system plays out its strengths in customer interactions and ERP systems manage and control business processes across all departments. CRM software is designed to increase sales and retain customers, while ERP systems are designed to reduce costs. Without integration, frictional losses, redundant data and stop signals for processes will slow down the work of companies. Decide for a provider who offers the optimal features for both business areas.

3. Project management software: smart tools for fast teams

The desire for project support through software is growing – and so are the variety of services. After all, smart project management tools offer a lot to keep a cool head as complexity increases. The software becomes the link between all participants. For planning, the tools include calendars, to-do lists, task management and milestones. Collaboration is supported by functions such as forums, chats, messaging and whiteboards; also the possibility to exchange and edit files together. Some software products specialize in scheduling, others in collaboration. Hybrid solutions, on the other hand, combine both categories – and certainly offer the greatest convenience. Make sure that the tool is easy to use, has sufficient functionality and is as flexible as your teams want to work. Make sure that the provider offers good support. It’s also worth taking a look at the data protection standard, which varies from provider to provider.

4. IoT: building with wireless intelligence

The “Internet of Things” opens up completely new opportunities. Wirelessly networked and Internet-enabled sensors and actuators increase comfort, safety and energy efficiency. Fire alarms, intrusion detection systems, access control and emergency call systems connected via the network lead to greater security: the sensors register unusual movements and send the signals to central points such as the police, fire brigade or emergency services. And as soon as systems and equipment such as heating, lighting and ventilation are intelligently controlled via the Internet, energy efficiency increases. Equally helpful for maintenance: monitoring services. This is how an elevator, for example, reports the need for maintenance. The service personnel ensure smooth operation as emergency calls become a thing of the past.

5. Revolution in the construction industry: artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly ensuring greater efficiency in construction. The result is a reduction in construction costs and increased safety, both in planning and on the construction site. As soon as a machine imitates human cognitive tasks, i.e. recognizes patterns, is able to solve problems independently and can learn, it is called artificial intelligence. A subgroup of artificial intelligence is machine learning: computer systems “learn” from data based on statistical methods, so that they no longer need to be programmed. Fed with enough data, the machine “understands” more and more of its field of activity and can cope with its tasks better and better.

Important advantages of AI in the building industry: Artificial neural networks help predict cost overruns. Furthermore, forecast models calculate realistic time constraints for project control. And with training materials available online, new know-how becomes available to employees in no time at all, and they can be trained quicker and more efficiently. Analysis and prioritization of the numerous risk factors are also supported. AI systems take on the role of intelligent assistants and handle the daily flood of data in the form of information requests, unsolved problems and change requests very efficiently – and project managers quickly receive the desired answers and recommendations for action.

The examples could be continued endlessly. In short, more and more information sources provide valuable data for precise analyses, forecasts and recommendations that increasingly control, simplify, accelerate and secure all processes.

A tool like Building Radar, as a last example, independently researches new properties in the construction industry and provides sales teams with all the relevant data for a perfect sales process.

As you can see: AI is revolutionizing the construction industry on many levels.

6. BIM: Solving problems proactively and reducing costs

Efficient digital planning, design, construction and management of buildings: Building Information Modeling (BIM) significantly reduces costs and risks in planning and construction processes. This is because potential problems and conflicts already become apparent during the planning stage and during what is known as digital pre-construction, which are now solved virtually before they actually occur on the construction site. With BIM, all trades are involved from the first phase, exchange information via the system and track all project progress in real time. The basis is a digital 3D model on which all parties involved in the construction project – from the architect and the construction company to the owner – work simultaneously and always have access to identical, up-to-date data and drawings. Subsequent service providers also benefit from data material and drawings.

7. Many team players, much data: one cloud for all

The magic of Building Information Modeling (BIM) succeeds thanks to the cloud. But even beyond BIM, the cloud in the construction industry enables a shared team room as an online workspace – also via mobile devices – for correspondence, documentation and archiving, making project work much easier. In addition to facilitating communication; plans, lists and other documents previously stored in different locations are now available in one location in the cloud.

8. See more, plan better: thanks to Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality systems integrate 3D models of terrain or buildings directly into real camera images. Realistic and precise on-screen images show how new buildings fit into their surroundings, what the existing underground infrastructure looks like or whether a landscape plan harmonizes with the surrounding terrain. Planners can identify potential problems at an early stage, customers can make decisions more easily, changes are discussed more precisely and misunderstandings can be avoided.

Hardware in the construction industry

Baustelle von oben mit Drone fotografiert

9. Take-off: during planning, controlling and commercialization – with drones

The increased use of the drone is one of the most exciting developments in the construction industry. In the planning phase, aerial photographs from the remote-controlled aircraft provide the data material for 3D CAD or BIM model. On the construction site, they document the progress of construction work and help optimize the distribution of machines and manpower. In older buildings, they uncover energy losses, measure hard-to-reach areas and help detect damage.

10. Mega-trend in the construction industry: the 3D-printed building

Since the University of South Carolina produced the first wall using 3D printing in 2004, sensational progress has been made. Today a house can be printed in 24 hours.

In the years to come, this trend will gain momentum and more and more market share. For the first time, robot arms are applying layers of fast-setting concrete. Other processes use a mix of concrete and glass fibers, which makes it possible to build even large concrete buildings. Simultaneous expression of concrete polymer foam for insulation is also already possible. A Dutch company is already printing stable metal structures in stainless steel, bronze, aluminium and Inconel alloys. The very high construction speed with reduced material requirements are likely to be the main drivers for future development. Experts predict that global sales of printed houses will grow to USD 40 billion by 2027.

11. Closing contracts: simple, safe and efficient with blockchain technology

Block chain technology is the basis for crypto currency, which allows payments and other transactions to be carried out without any intermediaries. Transactions are documented in blocks in a decentralized database, which is mirrored on several computers. This principle, which directly links the contractual partners in a transaction, also simplifies the conclusion of digital contracts with a distinctly high level of security. This is because information, once it has become a link in the chain, is stored permanently. In the real estate industry, so-called Smart Contracts allow entries to be made in a land register without a notary. In the construction industry, accounting within complex contract constellations is one possible application. This requires that all parties involved are part of a block chain. Each service to be provided is regulated by a digital contract. As soon as a craftsman has reported the fulfilment of his contract by means of a mobile device on the construction site, the acceptance of the work is carried out, the inspector marks the order as completed – and the due invoice is automatically instructed to pay.

12. Robotics: colleagues with muscles of steel

If a robot lifts a heavy object, a repair may be necessary, but then it goes straight on – without sick leave and necessary reintegration. Especially when the health of workers is at stake, the use of robots is extremely useful. They also help to compensate for the lack of skilled workers. And: they are quite simply multi-talented and can process even components weighing several tons with high precision – around the clock, in bad weather, at a constant working speed.

Manufacturing techniques & processes in the construction industry

Green Building

13. Puzzle on the construction site: modular building with prefabrication in factories

In modular construction, the largest part of a building is made in the factory, not just individual elements such as concrete floors or facade panels in prefabricated construction. Prefabrication of the components significantly increases construction efficiency due to the shorter construction time. This is because industrial prefabrication of the modules takes place under ideal conditions: Everything in the factory is ideally matched to the production process. The organization of all work steps is perfect and the production is carried out under optimal conditions with the highest quality standards. Above all, climatic factors are eliminated and modern machines work with high precision and speed. In addition, materials are saved and as a result, construction is more sustainable and more resource-efficient.

14. Sustainability: Building becomes greener

Sustainable building follows the guiding principle of keeping an eye on the conservation of the existing natural environment right from the planning stage and saving as much energy and resources as possible during all following phases. Ideally, the building should return to nature without leaving any residues after the period of use. These goals require a careful selection of building materials, a sophisticated energy concept (electricity and heat) and conscious use of water. The concepts “Green Building” and “ecological building” are intended to reduce harmful effects on health and the environment in addition to the achieved savings factors. In the best case, the idea of sustainability is pursued throughout all phases of the building life cycle. The Green Building concept is also suitable for the renovation of buildings. For example, Deutsche Bank’s twin towers in Frankfurt am Main, which were built between 1979 and 1984, have been green refurbished and have been saving 67 percent heating energy per year since then. This green thinking is finding more and more supporters – after all, the construction industry currently consumes around 40 percent of global resources.

15. Natural building materials: for more well-being

The logical consequence of the desire for sustainability: The trend “building with natural building materials” continues to grow. Natural building materials place special demands on the construction of a building and are often less flexible in their use than conventional materials. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages: The ecological balance is quite simply much more favourable. And the indoor climate, which is so decisive for our well-being, is better than average with natural building materials. With a house made of natural building materials, building owners and ladies neither burden themselves with problematic materials nor the environment.

16. The critical side of the boom: rising construction costs

Rising salaries and material costs are driving up prices in the construction industry. Because more construction is taking place in Germany, the demand for sand, gravel and concrete is increasing. This repeatedly leads to supply bottlenecks, longer transport routes – and ultimately to higher prices.

17. Virtual reality for more safety on the construction site

The building site regulations clearly regulate it: to guarantee the safety and health of all employees on a building site is part of the duty of a building owner. But the construction industry still records the highest accident figures in commercial statistics. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) techniques can change this situation for the better. With VR, employees can be better trained by simulating and training dangerous situations and the corresponding reactions to them off-site. The use of AR will also improve safety on construction sites. For example, augmented reality solutions from SRI International: they help to identify, report and eliminate risks earlier – before accidents happen. This is because planners and workers can see directly on site what is behind already plastered ceilings, walls and floors and whether construction elements are attached in the right place.

Market situation in the construction industry

Börsenchart

18. Fewer employees in the German construction industry

The “Labour Market Forecast 2030” of the german “Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs” predicts a slight gain in importance for the construction industry in the southern states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hessen, while it is likely to lose ground in most other states.  This will be accompanied by a decline in employment between 2020 and 2030 of 117,200, which is 4.9%.

19. Clear trend: less building construction – more underground construction

In the long term, the economic downturn in Germany will also have an impact on growth in the construction industry. According to EUROCONSTRUCT, the market research institute for the industry, the growth rate for the construction sector was 3% in 2018 and according to the forecast, will be only 1.5% by 2021. In contrast, experts estimate growth of 3.2% for the underground construction sector in 2020. This is due to expansion and upgrading of transport infrastructure. Hardly any growth is forecast for new residential construction from 2020 onwards.

20. Forecasts: How the construction industry in Germany will develop in 2020

According to the business climate index of the Ifo Institute and the annual report of the German Council of Economic Experts, the situation in the construction industry remains positive for the time being – even with reduced growth. At least for the next two years, the growth rate in the construction industry is expected to exceed GDP growth. This is primarily due to an absolute increase of 37.5 % in the number of publicly tendered projects – after long overdue investments in some cases. The drivers of this increase are new buildings and refurbishments in the infrastructure, education & research, industry and residential sectors. In a study, economic consultants pwc also confirmed a boom in private new construction and renovation of existing properties up to 2020. But not all traffic lights will be green forever: according to ifo, the upturn in the construction sector is expected to lose momentum significantly by 2020. 

Summary

The developments in the construction industry are truly exciting. Where once it was primarily people who placed bricks on bricks, poured concrete walls or installed reinforcements, robots are now joining them, drones are monitoring, proven technologies for planning and control are being refined, and completely new ones are being added. One thing is certain: humans will continue to play the decisive roles but construction will become more digital – and therefore more transparent, more efficient and ultimately safer. What do you think about the trends that will dominate the construction industry in 2020?

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