Chances tell me I’m not the only curious mind to consider the chance of the construction labor shortage to be a fabricated topic. Before I ruffle any feathers—it’s not. Aside from all the action-oriented solution thoughts out there, I recently came across a perspective that stresses the potential of a natural balance. Allow me to explain.
To begin illustrating the point, Jobsite’s Procure Editorial Staff painted a hypothetical picture of an HVAC technician visiting a job site. The project owner is surprised to find the tradesman wearing strange, technical-looking glasses without lenses, and speaking to himself in conjunction with hand movements.
This scene depicts an increasingly prevalent situation of a field professional using Smart Glasses to improve the way his work is performed. Although there are several different applications, in this example, the office was communicating with a worker on-site to stream audio/visual capabilities in order to relay step by step instructions in coordination with mechanical plans from an engineer. Innovations such as these have the potential to offset the skilled labor shortage – relaying expertise to field workers with skill gaps (the skills in such dire demand currently).
Many companies, such as the one in this example, have been researching technological improvements to lessen the hindrance from the labor shortage. Is this a complete substitute for human involvement? Unfortunately, no. However, the increase in productivity is indisputable.
According to the author: “This idea of the ‘telepresence’ of a skilled laborer who can look in and guide the field work from virtually anywhere in the world is already softening the blow of the skilled labor shortage. [An HVAC company testing these systems], with very industry-specific skill-sets, provided the perfect fertile ground for a pilot program that sought a solution to the skilled-labor shortage that threatened to close the company down. The results? The Company reports a 20/1 ROI on investment, and a large boost in monthly sales.”
Technologies like smart glasses and live streaming tools allow novice staff to be trained by expert technicians on the job in real time. Mistakes can be corrected as they occur, and the output has already been run through two checks in half the time of two professionals coming out to visit.
There are even marketing and administrative uses for this footage in portfolio compilations and documentation of work completed. If something is recorded with hard proof of work completed and time inputted, there is little room to dispute man hours or punch list items archived visually.
Regardless of how far we have to go, enhanced productivity through wearables and technology is making things a little easier on construction managers as projects continue to be presented in the busy market of 2018.