These Tech Trends Will Reshape EC&O in 2024

The engineering, construction, and operations (EC&O) industry is poised to undergo significant changes in 2024. Technology advancements are maturing, and there are numerous opportunities for these new technologies to improve visibility, accuracy, and efficiency in the design, construction, and maintenance of complicated physical infrastructure.

According to the Associated General Contractors of America, surveyed members reported that 72% of projects do not finish on time. The widespread prevalence of project delays and rework continues to be costly, impacting the profitability of construction firms and the feasibility of projects. New technologies are poised to alleviate this longstanding industry challenge – and many others.  

1. A new horizon of data-driven precision

Precision and accuracy are required to ensure safety and avoid costly rework. This year, emerging technology tools will continue to usher in an era of data-driven precision.  GenAI-assisted design will analyze large sets of design requirements to provide options and recommendations. This technology will streamline many planning, permitting, and design tasks in the building construction lifecycle, optimizing both processes and outcomes while enabling collaboration between stakeholders across the value chain. In addition, the autonomous site theme will continue to scale, bringing advanced AR/MR hardware, robotics, and AI/analytics to more jobsites and improving inspection accuracy during multiple construction phases. The same connectivity advances that enable these solutions will also spur the adoption of new IoT devices that can help construction managers track building supplies for just-in-time provisioning. On-site wearables will further improve worker safety, and enhanced sensors will monitor and predict needed maintenance for expensive equipment assets.

2. Construction sustainability

Emerging government policies are bringing in new construction sustainability standards. At the same time, owners, operators, and occupiers are seeking more sustainable living and working environments. Advancements in sustainable building materials, supply chains, and technologies could make 2024 the year that sustainability becomes the standard in the construction industry. Modular and prefabricated construction are already generating renewed enthusiasm. Preconstruction drives efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and prefab materials are more sustainable than traditional building supplies. Components built off-site and assembled on-site reduce construction time and labor requirements. Adding automation and analytics to the design and planning stage can identify excess waste upfront to help firms further reduce inefficiencies.

3. Renovating real estate and facilities management

This year, property management will be re-engineered to incorporate smart technologies like artificial intelligence and automation. IoT and advanced analytics can monitor systems (HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems), automate smart operations and predictive maintenance, manage and shift energy sources, and use cameras for continuous inspections. Facilities management will gradually shift to occupier-centric operations to deliver safer, cleaner, more sustainable, and more productive workspaces. IoT, AI, and data analytics will become integral to optimizing facility operations and enhancing occupant experiences and workforce safety.

Engineering and construction is a capital-intensive business. As such, enterprises in the sector usually take a wait-and-see stance rather than aggressively adopting the latest technology trends. But digital technologies that simultaneously improve precision, drive efficiency, and save money have been around long enough to prove their worth. This year, technologies like AR/MR, automation, AI, advanced analytics, digital twins, and even GenAI will gradually make their way into construction firms that have been resistant to change. The risk of being left behind in an increasingly tech-driven industry is no longer worth taking. 

About the Authors

Manish Kumar
General Manager – Domain & Consulting Head of EC&O and Airports Industry Practice

Tushar Batra
Global Practice Lead & Industry Partner - Engineering, Construction & Operations and Airports

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