The last few years in the electrical industry have been dominated by shifts in technology, particularly relating to ‘smart’ buildings and sustainable practices. Some trends have been propelled by the changes in working practices adopted since the pandemic, particularly around remote-working and the use of cloud-based automation.
Here are the latest notable trends we expect to see in the electrical industry for 2023:
1. The continued growth of prefabrication
Within the construction industry as a whole, prefabricated and modular methods built away from the job site is a growing trend and the electrical industry is no exception.
Prefabrication can produce cost savings in terms of materials, labour and estimating. Using standardised processes to assemble offsite can significantly reduce costs and lead times, and it can also mitigate the need to transport materials from place to place.
It is expected that electrical will continue to join other construction trades with preparing prefabricated components. For example, prefabricated electrical components such as panel builds and lighting packages are being integrated into modular data centre skids, built by construction firms.
2. Using greener, recycled materials
Acoording to a recent study, 58% of Europeans actively monitor their home’s energy usage in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Being environmentally conscious suggests they are likely to prefer buying from or using environmentally friendly companies to carry out work.
A recent study showed that over a fifth of electricians have been questioned about the environmental impact of their work over the past year, with 4 in 5 unsure of how they can make their services more sustainable.
It is expected that the trend toward sustainable materials and building methods will continue to grow and this means there will be more demand for energy-saving resources and sustainably made components. So businesses will need to consider implementing the use of recycled and reclaimed materials, as well as other sustainable practices, as part of their strategy in 2023.
3. Increased use of Building Information Modelling (BIM)
The increase in the use of BIM is helping construction teams to reinvent the wheel when it comes to planning their projects. Essentially, BIM enables businesses to create virtual construction plans, making them more coordinated and efficient when it comes to the design process of large-scale projects.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are two areas in particular which are continuing to create new possibilities for electrical contractors and can prove useful for different stages of electrical projects. For example, contractors might use AR to plan how to wire a building at the planning stage, and during the work phase AR can be used to virtually guide someone through a task.
4. The move towards smart homes (and smart cities!)
There’s no surprise that the smart home and IoT (Internet of Things) trend is expected to continue into 2023 and beyond. The technology is becoming more appealing, cheaper, and accessible to more people and this means there will be an increase in demand for electrical businesses to carry out ‘smart’ installations, in both the private residential and commercial sector. For example:
- Smart appliances from CCTV, smart doorbells and alarm systems - IoT has created a network of devices for every room in the house
- ‘Decor gadgets’ and voice recognition integrations, such as touch-reactive countertops and lighting - the installation of these gadgets will require rewiring in most cases
- Artificial intelligence evolving for smart technology - what used to be hands-free and voice-activated may now be hands-free and voice-free, operated purely by AI and based on learnt personal preferences
It is also predicted that the expansion of 5G networks will lead to what’s known as ‘smart cities’ in 2023. More communities are embracing IoT and we expect to see smart technologies expand into the commercial sector on a prolific scale. Electricians will be playing a major role in upgrading these commercial, leisure and office spaces in the months (and years) to come.
5. Cloud-based tools
Software that helps electrical contractors to manage their work is becoming increasingly more advanced. For example, there are a myriad of cloud-based project management tools on the market, and cloud-based end-to-end automated electrical estimating solutions are becoming more popular, helping companies to work smarter and become more efficient.
With the continuing popularity of remote-working, these tools are a game changer for the industry as they help teams to work more flexibly with increased speed, while at the same time enabling collaboration off-site.
A lot of the trends we are seeing are of course natural progression over the last few years. Issues such as sustainability have been on the record for some time, but as new regulations, awareness and demand come into play, companies will need to adapt to keep ahead of these changes.
Smart technology is expanding into every part of life and it’s exciting to see the benefits it will provide throughout 2023 and beyond, and the electrical industry will have a big part to play in meeting the demand.