Skilled labour shortage is a chronic issue that is being faced by the various industries including the construction industry. As per the National Skill Development Corporation’s report on Human Resource and Skill Requirement, published in 2013-14, “The workforce in the construction and real estate sector will touch approximately 76 million by 2022. Of these, 97 percent of workers between the age of 15 and 65 are likely to have no training before they start working.” This makes skilled labour shortage a grave issue as unskilled labour negatively affects the productivity, quality of work as well as the health and safety of others at the jobsite.

Some of the major challenges associated with unskilled labours are:

1. Low quality work: The work of unskilled labours is always unreliable and they cannot keep up with the construction quality. This results in major quality defects, thereby, increasing the claims arising from poor workmanship.

2. Project delays: Since the unskilled labours are unaware of many smart practices and methods, it results in project delays.

3. Decreased productivity: Speed and accuracy is always the problem with unskilled labours and this affects the productivity to a very large extent.

Having discussed the problem of skilled labour shortage and impact it has on the construction industry, use of technologically-advanced equipment can come handy and help solve this problem largely. In fact, the need of the hour is that the construction companies move towards the various technological solutions to help manage increasingly complicated projects with fewer workers and thankfully, the change is happening.

Adoption of technology to curb skilled labour shortage issue

In order to achieve maximum efficiency and complete projects on time, these days, majority of the construction companies or contractors are employing more and more state-of-the-art technology and machinery. This is also helping them to deal with the problem of skilled labour shortage and increase overall productivity.

Further, today many companies are also opting for various project management software platforms which have become indispensable tools. Another development is the advent of convenient and cloud-based construction monitoring software. Among all, technologically-advanced equipment emerges as the best solution to curb the skilled labour shortage problem to a very large extent.

Benefits offered by technologically-advanced equipment include...

1. Timely completion of projects: Work in the construction field can get smoother and faster with the help of equipment fitted with cutting-edge technologies which can ensure project completion as per the given deadline. Such equipment also make jobsites more efficient and help to streamline project schedules.

2. Improves quality of work: Employing construction equipment with latest technology also allows contractors to complete work with minimal quality defects.

3. Leads to cost savings and profitability: Increased productivity and the reliability of the advanced construction equipment also translate into higher profitability from fewer defect-related claims and the avoidance of delay penalties.

4. Performs multiple tasks: Equipment embedded with advanced technology can perform various tasks for which otherwise many labours may be needed.

A note on smart technologies incorporated in today’s machines

These days, be it heavy equipment like motor graders or backhoe loaders among others, they come with smart technologies so as to increase efficiency. Also, such technologies help in dealing with the skilled labour shortage as most of the tasks can be performed by these machines only. Let’s look at some of these technologies...

1. Machine control technology: The advanced machine controls generally help the motor grader operators to reduce the need for rework as the final grade can be reached in fewer passes. It helps increasing productivity by achieving accuracy in operations which is not possible through unskilled labours. Machine control technology also helps the contractors to more intelligently sequence and plan their equipment. The best part is it reduces the need for operator training as with advanced machine control technology even less-experienced operators can work easily and achieve grade characteristics similar to those with more field experience. RoadMaster G75 and RoadMaster G90 from Mahindra Construction Equipment are such motor graders designed specifically for Indian road conditions.

2. Telematics: The technologically-advanced motor graders with telematics also offer a host of benefits. These include improved maintenance and easy monitoring of machine useage & performance. By helping in capturing real-time data, telematics considerably helps in saving time and resources. For example, the RoadMaster G75 and RoadMaster G90 of Mahindra Construction Equipment (MCE) come with GPRS-based remote monitoring system digisense that keeps a track of the machine with the touch of a finger. Even the Mahindra EarthMaster backhoe loader comes with the revolutionary REMOTECARE feature that allows operators to get complete control over the equipment. It is an intelligent communication system that keeps the business owner or operator constantly informed about the machine through mobile phone based SMS updates.

Thus, heavy construction equipment like motor graders and backhoe loaders can put an end on the skilled labour shortage woes faced by the construction industry.

In a nutshell

If we go by the numbers, then the construction players in the country need nearly 35-40 percent of its labour force to be skilled for using heavy and complex machinery that’s been making inroads into the sector at a very fast pace. However, most of the labour force remains unskilled only. Hence, many private construction equipment players like MCE are coming up to take up the job of training the personnel. The company has 6 regional training centres across the country which imparts training on equipment operation, daily, weekly and monthly equipment maintenance and the safety parameters.

That said, it cannot be denied that technology and automation would eventually reduce the number of workers required at the construction project jobsites. In fact, over a period of 10 years, automation and other advanced technologies are expected to take the place of semi-skilled and unskilled workers who right now make up for the bulk of workforce at the construction site.