4 Ways the Rapid Growth of the Construction and Civil Engineering Industry is Impacting Ancillary Businesses

You’ve probably heard the astonishing statistic that China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the United States consumed over the entire 20th century. As far as the construction and civil engineering industry is concerned, the last 2 decades have been all about the mind-boggling rise of the Dragon. It’s not just cement. In 2017, China consumed nearly half of the world’s steel output. It now has almost two thirds of the world’s high-speed rail network and surpassed the US to have the world’s largest network of expressways.

While China’s construction boom is unmatched, it’s been emblematic of the growth in other large emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Brazil. Naturally, this growth has had a huge impact on the ancillary businesses like Costex Tractor Parts that provide technical, mechanical, infrastructure and service support to the civil engineering and construction industry. Here’s how.

1. Growing Use of Prefabricated, Modularized and Standardized Components

Production of construction equipment and components is seeing substantial efficiency gains thanks to prefabrication, modularization, and standardization. As a result, both equipment manufacturers and construction contractors will benefit from faster project delivery times, greater certainty, reduced cost, lower maintenance expense and new avenues for material and equipment parts recycling.

Modularization increases opportunities for flexibility and customization. Prefabrication can be applied to projects of all sizes ranging from small residential housing to expansive industrial plants. Presently, the actual degree of use varies widely between industries. It’s fairly common in offshore hydrocarbon facilities as well as bridges and overpasses.

2. Semi-Automated Civil Engineering and Construction Equipment

As an ever greater proportion of construction and civil engineering processes has become mechanized, project managers have seen firsthand the productivity gains that come with increased adoption of machinery. Bulldozers and excavators have simplified the moving of large quantities of earth as pile drivers and drilling rigs enhance underground works.

Despite these advantages though, construction and civil engineering has remained significantly behind other industrial sectors (like motor vehicle manufacturing) in its embrace of automation. This is gradually changing as the relentless pressure of global construction demand drives speed and efficiency expectations to unprecedented heights.

Existing automation technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, and autonomous control systems are becoming the early enablers of semi-automation in construction equipment.

While semi-autonomous equipment still needs considerable human intervention, it can perform many complex tasks that would otherwise have to be done manually. That substantially betters accuracy, reduces human error, enhances safety and improves construction quality.

3. Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (better known as 3D printing) is bound to have a disruptive impact on construction equipment. The technology facilitates the creation of custom-built shapes that would be difficult and expensive to produce by conventional equipment manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing promises massive manufacturing efficiency gains and waste reduction.

Delivery times for custom construction and engineering equipment can be cut from months to just hours. Production cost could be slashed drastically. 3D printing’s application in engineering and construction equipment manufacturing is still in its infancy. Currently, it’s used for high-value, low-volume parts. Nevertheless, it’s only a matter of time before equipment companies surmount the technological challenges that currently hold back production scaling.

4. Digitalization and Big Data

One thing additive manufacturing does is lengthen the digital thread of construction equipment production. This is just one way digitalization is transforming how the businesses that support the construction and civil engineering industry work. The result of rising digitalization is an exponential growth in the amount of data both equipment manufacturers and construction companies grapple with every day.

This data, when analyzed, can deliver huge cost savings running into the billions of dollars each year. Algorithms can extract fresh insights from the enormous data pools and identify otherwise invisible clashes as well as interdependencies. Construction companies can share direct feedback from the field with equipment manufacturers in real-time in order.

These trends among construction equipment manufacturers and other businesses that support the industry are an affirmation that industry success is dependent on all stakeholders working in harmony. The efficiency gains realized at the equipment manufacturing floor are an advantage to the equipment end users (in this case, the contractors).