The way forward: the engineering industry’s 2020 outlook

Buildings with connected lines through them

Despite cost pressures, labour shortages and trends toward fixed-bid projects that often demand a level of pricing precision that is difficult to achieve with traditional systems, the Engineering and Construction industry has had a surprisingly strong 2019, seeing overall market growth despite these challenges.

Now, Bayside Personnel are looking into the future, to see what 2020 holds for the industry. Given the opportunities and potential challenges, it is a year that promises to be a dynamic one. Several major trends will play out on national and global levels, including the continued adoption of digital technologies and the growing investment in developing smart cities.

Here is what we have identified as some of the major trends that the Engineering and Construction industry can expect for the year ahead.


The development of ‘smart’ cities

According to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 55% of the world’s population currently live in urban areas, a number that is expected to grow to 68% by the year 2050. Urban planners and developers are looking towards the implementation of strategies to improve cities’ sustainability and overall quality of urban life.

The result is seeing many take on the application of smart technologies that support urban sustainability. This will see Engineering and Construction firms begin to champion ‘smart’ infrastructure, with initiatives encompassing the likes of sustainable buildings, energy, water, transportation and other factors that contribute to quality of life. The rise of intelligent buildings that can self-optimise their operations is a rising trend driven by AI that is likely to gain prominence in the coming year. In fact, the global smart building market is expected to grow to USD 33 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 29.69%, according to a study performed by Market Research Future.

A few Australian buildings have already begun taking on this approach, including Brisbane’s Skytower, which utilises sensors that can trigger equipment to take action according to a predetermined set of rules. What we can expect in coming years is the proliferation of smart buildings such as this.


The rise of technology

While the Engineering and Construction industry has been relatively hesitant to adopt advances in technology, it seems it can refuse the pull of the digital world no more. Indeed, the industry is now on the cusp of a new era, with technology start-ups creating new applications and tools that are changing how companies design, plan, and execute projects.

New software, construction-focused hardware and analytics capabilities will begin to be fully embraced and utilised in 2020. These technologies have the potential to reduce some of the major challenges experienced by the industry and provide the efficiency, productivity and safety breakthroughs the industry has sought for decades.

From the automation of construction sites – which could address the shortfall in labour – to using drones for site inspections – which could otherwise be hazardous to workers – this technology will make serious inroads in the industry this year.


Streamlined communications and digital collaboration

On large national projects, stakeholders such as engineers, architects and foremen can be wide spread, making channels of communication and collaboration challenging. They need to communicate and align frequently, as even the smallest modification could significantly increase timelines or costs if made too late in the game.

That explains why many construction-technology start-ups have focused on creating tools that streamline digital collaboration, including document, design and contract. This is something that will be more widespread in the coming year.


Jobs of the future

When it comes to job growth, many positions that will see an increase in demand are those which support the trend towards information technology and automation. While traditional fields, such as civil and petroleum engineering are still in high demand, the fastest growing fields are those rooted within technological advancement.

Roles in areas like software engineering, alternative energy, machine learning, electrical engineering and data science will all likely be in heightened demand due to the changing landscape of the industry.

As specialists within the Engineering and Technical industry, we understand where the industry is heading. Contact us today and speak with one of our professional Consultants.

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