New tools and skills needed in US

10 August 2017

Contractors must embrace technology to capitalise on Trump-led investment

Plans outlined by the new Trump administration could see trillions of dollars of public–private investment flood into US infrastructure projects in 2018, revitalising a construction sector in the midst of a productivity slump.

However, change cannot be achieved without retooling the workforce. US contractors have struggled to replace and retain talent lost during the financial crisis. 

And, while markets such as the UK have seen a revolution in construction practices, the US is a declining leader in the use of technology such as building information modelling (BIM), automation and prefabrication.

From on-site management apps to cloud-based control towers and drones that map, monitor and model projects, there is a tremendous amount of productivity gain on offer.

The construction of prefabricated units in remote factories or the automation of repeatable tasks, for example, will reduce the number of staff needed on site and make it easier for contractors to work year-round. 

Meanwhile, the adoption of cutting-edge digital design and analytic tools could make the construction sector more attractive to new talent.

Embracing new technology brings risk. Contractors must quickly get to grips with cyber, safety and liability exposures, as well as potential changes to coverage requirements. 

Most construction underwriters are yet to develop formal wordings around the use of robots or drones, for example, and gaps in coverage may exist in traditional policies.

Reshaping and reskilling the workforce will be challenging. As contractors embrace change and adopt new practices, they should keep their brokers duly informed and work in partnership to ensure new exposures are fully covered. 

For further information, please contact Al Marquis, Partner, Construction Risk Partners on amarquis@constructionriskpartners.com