Construction and HVAC installation are always designed together. When they’re not, the HVAC installer resorts to fixes like a squeeze elbow to install venting in tight spaces. So, understanding which construction trends will impact HVAC can help you plan for 2018. This year’s them? Digital integration.
Why labor is the driving force
The construction industry and the HVAC industry face a looming labor shortage. This will impact not only how you attract and retain staff, but it’s also going to impact how technology is used.
In 2018 more HVAC firms will invest in measures to retain and attract staff. If you want to stay competitive, consider adding benefits and perks to your employment package. Benefits packages can include extended medical coverage and retirement savings contributions.
Additional perks could include allowing your team to use their work vehicles for personal use, covering industry education, or a profit-sharing model.
The labor force will influence how technology is used on the job site in a couple of ways. First, a scarcity of labor will accelerate the adoption of technology solutions. So, any opportunity to increase productivity with machines will be welcome. Second, most young workers entering the job market are comfortable with digital tools, and they have come to expect the convenience technology solutions offer.
IoT and integration
As an HVAC technician, you likely have more experience with Internet of Things (IoT) and integration than most building professionals. In 2018, expect the IoT to move beyond home automation and onto the job site. What does this mean? It means building projects will use digital tools for all aspects of the worksite – from the design phase through to completion. HVAC technicians who embrace this change will be more likely to win bids as more building contractors and developers turn to digital tools.
Building information modelling
One example of integration in action is building information modelling (BIM). BIM is a workflow that is supported by software that allows contractors to create accurate virtual 3D models of existing and proposed systems. Around since the 1990s, its use was first adopted by architects and designers, but it can – and should – be used at all levels of the construction industry.
One of the main benefits of BIM is that it facilitates intense coordination between contractors and building owners. The models can be updated quickly to reflect last minute changes. For HVAC contractors, this means larger jobs will go more smoothly because you’ll have access to up-to-the-minute building specs.
Virtual reality technology (VR) is commonly used in BIM. Expect to see more adoption of VR tools in 2018. It’s used by designers to pitch a project by creating a virtual tour for investors. It’s also used as a sales tool, allowing realtors to give clients tours regardless of where they or a project is located. But VR will be used more in project collaboration, allowing clients to review 3D representations of builds as the work progresses. This use has the potential to reduce the amount of mistakes and miscommunication in projects.
From an HVAC perspective, the combined use of BIM and VR technology means the HVAC system installation can more easily be tweaked in response to last-minute building changes.
Project management software
Facilities managers and contractors looking to improve efficiencies may opt for project management software rather than BIM software. And there is no shortage of project management software for the construction industry. Applications like CoConstruct, Procore, Buildertrend, Workflowmax, and BuildTools are some of the available packages.
No matter how you look at it, digital transformation is happening in construction. Fortunately, most digital tools for the construction industry are user friendly, so all you need is to be comfortable working with apps. Already tech savvy? This will be a great year for you. If not, 2018 should be the year you make friends with technology.