The Dodge Momentum Index and monthly construction start figures tell the tale of an up-and-down 2021 in construction during which a hoped-for recovery didn't play out quite as expected, writes Dan McCarthy, president of Dodge Construction Network. Looking ahead, McCarthy writes that new tools and technology will help, but successful relationships will be key "to overcome these challenges and enter a new era of modern construction."
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Manufacturers pursuing transformation and growth will need to improve beyond the shop floor in areas such as digital, sustainability and employee skill sets. "To capitalize on the convergence of advanced manufacturing and ESG goals, industry leaders must design new business models that are sustainable and inclusive by design, practicing lifecycle thinking, promoting supply chain transparency and enabling operational efficiency," says HP Inc. Chief Strategy Officer Philipp Jung.
The pandemic has accelerated manufacturers' move toward digitalization and automation, spurred by the need to improve efficiency, operate with fewer employees and employ technology to improve safety and distancing.
The Commerce Department says housing starts grew by 1.4% in December, countering economists' predictions of a drop, while permits for new homes rose 9.1%. However, supply shortages and the rising cost of materials -- up almost 19% in January -- are delaying house construction completions.
Better collection and utilization of data and greater use of digital visualization are among the construction technology trends likely to grow this year, according to industry experts. The pandemic has increased the pace of adoption of these and other technologies and brought greater recognition of their value.
Manufacturers will need to change their hiring protocols and workplace culture if they want to recruit and retain more employees, write James Stone and Jonathan Minear of Jackson Lewis. They recommend increasing pay, speeding up the hiring process, bolstering diversity, equity and inclusion programs and offering more flexible work arrangements when possible.
The Associated General Contractors of America has asked the White House to rethink its intent to double tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. Construction material prices increased almost 20% last year, and additional increases would threaten the construction industry's prospects this year, AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said.
Emissions levels from IKEA's supply chain dipped 6% in the 12 months through last August compared to pre-pandemic levels, despite a rise in sales, the Sweden-based furniture retailer reported. The progress puts IKEA on schedule to reach its goal of becoming climate positive by the end of the decade.
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