Historically, electrical contractors have been slow to adopt new technologies in comparison to other contractors. Part of this may simply be a result of the nature of electrical work; a fancy new gadget isn’t worth much if it can’t handle the rigors of actually being on the job.
No one wants to be the one to find out whether some new gizmo can REALLY handle live wires and being surrounded by electrical currents, so many electricians and electrical contractors take a “wait and see” approach to embracing new tech.
With that said, according to the USG and US Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index for Q4 2018, technology adoption is on the rise among electrical contractors. While general contractors are adopting tech at a faster rate than trade contractors, even those specializing in trades like electrical work are experiencing an increase in technology adoption and anticipate growing adoption rates over the next three years.
Obviously, not all technology that’s targeted at the construction industry will be an ideal fit for electrical contractors. While general contractors might have a growing need for drones and other high-tech equipment, an electrician isn’t likely to need any equipment that flies around and requires a remote control. So which technology might be of use to electrical contractors? Here are a few options:
• Database-driven equipment tagging: Electronic tags allow for the easy check-in and check-out of equipment, letting you check instantly to find out which team has which equipment and when the last time a specific item received maintenance or other services.
• Wearable sensors: There are a number of wearable tech options that can help electrical contractors to stay safe, including wearable voltage sensors that warn of live wires and energized equipment to prevent dangerous contact.
• 3D printing: While you may think this is more suited for general contractors, an increasing number of electricians design and print custom wiring guides and other custom plastic pieces on an as-needed basis.
• Augmented and virtual reality: AR hardware is already being used in some locations to provide up-to-date information from sensors to help identify potential hazards or hot spots, while VR is increasingly seeing adoption as an alternative to on-the-job training for teaching safe work practices in dangerous environments.
Other technologies may be of use to you as well, though the various pieces of tech will depend on the specific work that you and your crews do.
Benefits of Tech Adoption
Adopting new technologies can have a number of benefits. In addition to preparing for future shifts in equipment standards, tech such as equipment tags and wearable sensors can provide direct benefits to labor productivity and on-the-job safety as well. Depending on the technologies you use on the job, the adoption of new tech may help to reign in project completion times and keep work from going over budget as well.
Should You Consider New Technology?
Determining whether new technology is right for your company isn’t always easy. Take the time to consider just how well new tech would fit in with your crew and how much training is required to get your workers up to speed with the new equipment.
Look at your current work procedures, safety record and how you produce custom items to see whether new technology would have a significant effect on your work. Be objective in your considerations, and be sure to revisit the idea down the road if you decide that now isn’t the time to bring on some new tech.