AWCI's Centennial: The Future
Members of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry were asked to opine on what the future holds for the wall and ceiling industry. More specifically, members were asked two questions—one about how the industry will change in the next 10 years and in the next 100 years.
All of the responses are included in AWCI’s commemorative centennial book, “Celebrating 100 Years of Industry Growth with the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.” The book includes answers from AWCI member contractors, suppliers, distributors and chapters. Due to space considerations, here we present only the responses provided by AWCI member contractors.
How Will the Industry Change in the Next 10 Years?
FL Crane & Sons has experienced firsthand the rapid evolvement of the construction industry. The company was founded when mainstream drywall use was in its infancy in our region. While technology continues to advance, we have to ask the question, “How will the industry change in the next 10 years in response to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges?” This is nearly impossible to answer with any accuracy. No one would have thought in 1947 that our take-offs would be completed with the aid of computer software, and that sets of paper plans are almost nonexistent in our company. We picture a much different and much more capable industry within the next 10 years. The use of effective technology will likely be the most visible change in our industry. Tools such as the Robotic Total Station will continue to develop and will provide faster and more accurate layouts. We will be better equipped and capable of tracking analytics, such as production and estimate tracking. We will likely also see the use of pre-fabrication and automation on every job site in the future. Although these are not nearly all the changes we can expect, even just these few have already drastically changed the industry as we know it today.
—FL Crane & Sons
We will continue to see advancements in tools and technology. Our new tools will help increase productivity; they will be lighter than the tools we use today. Tools will become more comfortable to use. Wall and ceiling contractors will pay more for tools to help increase productivity of a smaller workforce and to help reduce injures form repetitious activities.
Let’s start with the bid documents and estimating. First, these documents will continue to be distributed electronically, but improved cloud technology will allow faster feedback and delivery options. Budgets and project schedules will continue to be completed in a more collaborative environment with design and contractors working hand-in-hand.
Next, there will be a continued push to use pre-manufactured products and systems. These also will improve the construction schedules and quality control as well as improve labor shortages that continue in the industry.
Product development will center on increasing efficiency, limiting manpower, improving safety as well as the environment as a whole.
With the specialized and technical nature of the industry and the evolving relationship between design and contract partners, more projects will be completed using a different contractual relationship, such as design build, guaranteed maximum price or integrated project delivery contracts.
—Performance Contracting Inc.
The next 10 years in the construction industry in New York will continue to embrace and implement technology, especially communication/collaboration platforms seeking greater productivity and efficiency while trying to comply with increased safety mandates in a robust economic climate. New product innovation and revolution in space planning will continue as manufacturers and architects and designers continue to gain competitive advantage and service their client’s needs and desires.
How Will the Industry Change in the Next 100 Years?
We believe we will move toward efficiencies in all buildings from the size of the building to the carbon footprints and energy use. Our housing will be smaller and more efficient in the use of energy and how it interacts with the workplace. We will have robots doing most of the hard labor utilizing factories with all construction components being prefabricated for delivery to projects. We believe that our buildings will be completely multi-purpose with the capacity to grow a food source, process waste products for energy, have a work area that eliminates unnecessary commutes and energy consumption. Buildings will be self-sufficient—processing waste into energy and water, allowing for green roofs, green walls and products creating oxygen that are a blend of natural and manufactured.
And, lest I forget, we will be teleported almost everywhere eliminating much of the transportation as we know today.
How exciting to think about the world of construction in 2118! We have no doubt that a lot of the construction labor we have today will be replaced by robotics of some type. Automation and prefabrication will be commonplace compared to what we are doing today. Construction materials will be produced much faster due to automation in manufacturing and the use of rapidly renewable materials. All projects will be built in a virtual format, then prefabricated and mostly assembled offsite. Then the materials and prefab assemblies will be delivered by self-driving trucks to the job site where they will be unloaded, stocked and assembled by robots. Humans and robots will work together to physically build the project. 3-D printing will do most of the onsite work for us. On new projects, many items will be 3-D printed right on the job site while smaller, new projects will simply be 3-D printed. 3-D printing will be adapted to provide most things we need, including clothing and food. 3-D printers will be like the microwave of the prior century, where every house will have one because it is an essential part of everyday life.
—Heartland Acoustics & Interiors, Inc.
It is very difficult to think about how our business will be operating in 100 years. We are a stucco and plastering company that was founded by my wife’s grandfather in 1936. Imagine that—a business that will be almost 200 years old by the time you read this! Ironically, the plaster and stucco process has not changed a great deal during the last 100 years. The materials have certainly been upgraded, but the application methods are still today very similar. We do not expect this to change a great deal. However, we do expect the change will come from the way we purchase our material. I expect that you will be buying direct from the manufacturer, and the distributor will have fallen by the wayside. We see this as a cost-cutting measure for the manufacturers and contractors, and we sense this will happen with new and improved shipping methods and inventory control. We also see prefabrication playing a role in the demise of the distributor; you will have figured out a way to purchase material direct, manufacture the prefabrication units and ship direct to project sites.
Of course we are certain communication will have changed also. Although we have very little verbal communication today, it will be even less in the future. We want to leave you with this thought: The construction industry has been built around relationships that still exist today. Our hope for you is that this has not been lost in all the technology that you have available now. It’s not always about the money. Take pride in the quality of scopes you perform. Take pride in your company; many sacrifices have been made in order for you to be there. Lastly, give your customer what you would expect to get.
—Liddle Brothers Contractors, Inc.
—South Valley Drywall