The construction and heavy equipment industries are lagging behind automotive industries in digitization and modernization and only slightly so comparing to the agriculture world. There are many reasons why.
- The Heavy Equipment and Construction Industry: An Overview
- Agriculture Vs. Construction Industry
- Automotive Vs. Heavy Equipment Industry
- Unique and Customized Projects
- Shortage of Skilled Workers
- Where It’s’ Headed
- A Push for New Technology
- Switching Energies
Taking an analytical standpoint, the heavy equipment industry has a ton of growth potential. Construction is something that all areas need, whether on a city-wide scale or an individual one. As of 2020, the heavy construction equipment market was estimated to reach USD 166.05 Billion. So there was an obvious need for equipment that could help businesses achieve their goals, one that is sure to keep growing.
Investments in the industry are substantial and are said to keep rising as the need for growth and development continues across the globe. Still, there is a lag between the heavy equipment industry and agriculture and automobile, and the reasons why might surprise you.
The agriculture and construction industries are not too far apart from each other when it comes to digitization, though the reasons why differ. Agriculture has challenges when it comes to digitizing due to long plant-to-harvest cycles. This slows down experimentation and takes a longer time to analyze and test new technologies.
Additionally, most large crops are in rural areas, which are not known for their connectivity. Trying to increase the presence of technology, especially IoT, in an area without much connection is difficult, dragging the agriculture industry behind others when it comes to innovation. Many factors affecting the outcome in agriculture are complex, like weather, seeds and soil composition. These factors add difficulties to digitization.
Still, the challenges haven’t gotten in the way of the push to increase technology in agriculture, notable progresses have been made in AgTech, especially in the areas of self-driving tractors and Precision Ag.
The automotive industry deals with individuals more than the collective population of people. Individuals can sometimes make decisions quicker. This is one reason. why modernization can be done faster.
Vehicles often drive from one side of the country to another from a logistics standpoint, long transportation needs to be simple, streamlined, and fixable if the worst happens. During transport, if a vehicle breaks down thousands of miles away from where it was purchased, companies need ways to get it fixed quickly wherever it is.
That’s where location services started making their way into vehicles early. This innovation started more than a decade ago before there were talks about digitizing heavy equipment used in construction, which are comparatively stationary. Cell signals along highways are the first to be available, making it easier to keep vehicles connected.
The DOT requirements also are also the technology advancements in the auto industry. ELD is a perfect example in this regard, and so is eDVIR and IFTA reporting challenges Unique to the Construction Industry Fragmentation
In construction, there is rarely a time when companies are working alone. Most large-scale jobs have several contractors working on jobs at the same time performing different tasks. It’s already challenging enough to get everyone coordinated and working toward a common goal. Additionally, it makes unified digitization challenging. Not all contractors are similar in technology selection or adoption, which makes across the board modernization difficult.
Comparing to manufacturing, construction projects are unique and customized. We do not want all buildings and bridges to look the same. Even if we are OK with that, the grounds and surroundings are different. Adopting new technologies for customizable projects is more difficult by nature.
These days there is a big shortage of skilled people for the construction industry, creating more pressures to meet the deadlines. According to findings from the Associated General Contractors of America, about 80% of construction companies note their most significant challenge as finding workers to fill jobs. In addition, many of those in the business are getting older, and the shortage of younger workers coming to work is creating a widening gap. The added pressure from the labor shortage makes it hard to adopt new ways of doing things. It is also the exact reason why we must accelerate the pace for digitization and modernization because technology will help to solve the labor shortage problem. Rise of New Technology
The more that technology improves, the more benefits most companies can reap. That’s the case with all industries, including automotive, heavy equipment, and agriculture. As a result, each industry is now feeding off of one another, influencing the other to break ground on new ideas and new technologies.
The automotive, heavy equipment and agricultural are moving in the same direction, though the speeds vary. They all know that there are obvious benefits from increasing the use of technology, most of which help them overcome the top challenges that they face day in and day out.
The entire world came to a halt back in 2020. Some parts of the construction industry came to a standstill with workers unable to get the jobs done. The standstill resulted in some drastic consequences for some businesses and brought many companies to near bankruptcy. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics initially estimated 10% growth from 2018 to 2028 this growth might be revised downward due to the pandemic.
Today, many states are increasing investments in their roads, highways, and buildings, all of which will require heavy equipment. The infrastructure bill being debated in the congress would definitely add to the pace. In addition, as the economy begins to bounce back, many businesses will break ground, expand, or renew, all of which will need the help of construction workers and heavy machinery. The outlook for construction businesses is bright.
The construction industry has recognized the benefits of adding technology into the field. For example, there has been an increase in things like equipment monitoring, material management, and virtual reality. These things have helped construction companies do the jobs they were hired to do faster and more safely.
A better understanding of how to complete complex jobs quicker and with more efficiency has caught the attention of many and increased the awareness of the benefits of technology across the industry. This awareness is why there is a push for technology, and many companies and investors are willing to invest. Numbers show that companies that do adopt more technology could see as much as a 30% increase in productivity.
Agricultural and automotive industries have been working on turning away from fossil fuels for a while. The demand for greener vehicles and products that don’t produce waste can sometimes take precedence over the size or the performance. These ideals have begun to change how most industries operate, making it a perfect opportunity for heavy machinery to evolve.
Electric and hybrid vehicles are breaking the mold when it comes to new and improved vehicles out there. These ideas are all great for the heavy equipment industry, as they can switch to new ways of doing things more quickly. It could reduce their carbon footprint, reduce the costs of fuel, and create a better and cleaner environment all at the same time.
There have been significant challenges for the construction and heavy equipment industries to modernize and digitize. However, there is plenty of data available to reinforce the evidence that taking advantage of new technology will benefit the industry in the long run. Companies that invest in technology to make them more efficient will reap the rewards going forward.
Though it might look like the heavy equipment industry is lagging behind in some areas today, they are not as far behind as most think, and innovations and improved machinery and processes are emerging daily. The heavy equipment industry has had more hurdles to overcome than the automotive industry. The agriculture industry has challenges, too, though digitization is happening at a higher rate and more incredible speeds by the day.
Tomorrow’s construction projects will be more demanding to tackle, and more companies will be forced to upgrade or risk being left behind.
About the Author
As the CEO of Foresight Intelligence and Fleet Intelligence, Dale helps organizations utilize their critical data in a seamless and painless manner. With an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, Dale knew that he wanted to focus on using technology to help people improve the efficiency of their businesses and organizations, rather than focusing on pushing the boundaries of the technology itself. As such he created results-driven businesses that are focused on revolutionary solutions not evolutionary bells and whistles; including the only telematics company that features no-touch options.
For over ten years, Foresight Intelligence has helped many companies become more efficient; saving time, money, and precious resources. While others sell technology, Dale delivers results. His companies were created following his personal motto “SPIRIT” … they provide the best service to clients, are passionate about what they do, proceed with integrity, ensure they provide a rockstar performance, work with an innovative mindset, and always use teamwork to do what is best for clients.
When he is away from work, Dale enjoys spending quality time with his wife and four children in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. As the lights of his life, he is resolute in making sure they receive all the love and care they need to become successful.