3 Ways Autonomous Vehicles Can Benefit Construction Industry

Foundamental | May 07, 2020

  • Market dynamics pushing automation to the top of off-road hauling cost-management priorities solidly back up the regulatory advantages.

  • An off-highway environment is more predictable, in a controlled setting, and requires less outfitted technology.

  • The market is certainly there. The productivity gains are meaningful. Cost savings are realized. So, one might wonder, is there a catch?

There's money and attention drowning development of autonomous vehicles -- a whopping $4.2 billion invested in the first 3 quarters of 2018, according to Foundamental. The technology is imminent -- pieces of it have been sold in cars and trucks for years -- but nobody can nail down when we will see self-driving cars, SUVs, pickup trucks or trucks on streets and highways.

Safety is a huge hurdle on-highway autonomous vehicles will have to overcome -- demanding well-developed, tested and expensive lidar and radar systems, high tech infrastructure, and cloud computing and mapping providers to become fully operational and ubiquitous on our roads.

Autonomous cars generally refer to vehicles classified by the Society of Automotive Engineers International as Level 4 and Level 5. The automation included on vehicles sold today predominantly puts them in Level 1 and Level 2 of SAE’s rating system.

Some assert on-highway Level 4 and 5 AVs will be market ready in as little as five years. Foundamental argues that it will take longer, considering the regulation and policy that must be legislated and enacted.

So, this begs the question, will we see fully autonomous Level 5 vehicles this decade? Foundamental says the answer is yes, but we have to look off-highway.

Read more: 3 Modern Challenges in the Construction Industry

An off-highway environment (think large heavy machines on a quarry or mine site) is more predictable, in a controlled setting, and requires less outfitted technology. We couple this with the fact that the industry will increasingly be impacted by labor shortages — pushing the need for AVs to the front of management priorities.

Foundamental’s insights team found global construction unit sales in 2021 will reach 999,770 at a value of almost $90 billion dollars — with India expected to hold the largest potential for future growth. Fully autonomous vehicles currently hold a market share of less than 1% of total construction equipment sales worldwide but given global equipment sales will grow 2.5% each year until 2022, coupled with the exponential growth in adoption of fully autonomous vehicles, the market share will likely double in size at least in the next two years. Fully autonomous sites are already common place in Western Australia (capturing 75% of global demand for autonomous trucks), with some other large scale activities in South America (Chile and Brazil).

Foundamental reports an average increase in productivity of 30% with autonomous vehicles via longer production hours, reduced load and unit cost by 15% and improved tire life to 40% since optimized controls reduce sudden acceleration and abrupt steering.

The market is certainly there. The productivity gains are meaningful. Cost savings are realized. So, one might wonder, is there a catch?

Read more: Sustainability in construction: Green goals and strategies

About Foundamental:

We’re Foundamental – the global investor in construction and mining technology. We’re backed by some of the world’s largest construction and materials companies, giving our experts privileged access to deep sector knowledge across markets. This means we can recognize global patterns and apply them locally. Our industry insights help ventures commercialize across borders in the fragmented construction and mining markets. We currently have two funds under our management and are investing in one company per month.


As you know, engineering is a strictly regulated profession with tiers of licensing that exist at both the national and state levels. Add to those licenses the additional requirements tacked on by local municipalities, states, and federal governments, and it becomes obvious that a dedicated staff of license-compliant professionals is required to keep your business open.


As you know, engineering is a strictly regulated profession with tiers of licensing that exist at both the national and state levels. Add to those licenses the additional requirements tacked on by local municipalities, states, and federal governments, and it becomes obvious that a dedicated staff of license-compliant professionals is required to keep your business open.

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Alpine Launches Engineering Services Platform—Trilon Group—Through Partnership With Waggoner Engineering

Alpine | February 02, 2022

Alpine Investors, a people-driven private equity firm committed to building enduring businesses, has announced the launch of Trilon Group, its newly formed engineering services platform. Waggoner Engineering, a Mississippi-based engineering services firm, is Trilon’s first platform partnership and will continue to operate independently under the Waggoner brand. Terms of the private transaction were not disclosed. Trilon was formed with the vision of building the next Top 20 design firm in North America by partnering with a comprehensive family of engineering services businesses focused on delivering practical and sustainable infrastructure solutions. Trilon will partner with like-minded engineering firms across the nation and aims to accelerate their growth through investment in talent, technology, and targeted M&A. Trilon’s key markets include Transportation, Water, Energy, Environment, and Community Infrastructure. Alpine plans to invest up to $200 million of equity capital to fund the organic and inorganic growth of Trilon. In partnership with Alpine’s in-house talent program, Trilon will focus on cultivating a culture that provides opportunities for its employees to quickly expand their purposeful careers. Trilon will invest heavily in developing and elevating talent across its family of companies with multiple career paths spanning technical, project management, business management, business development, and operations. Michael (Mick) Renshaw, an Alpine CEO-in-residence, will lead Trilon as its founder and CEO. With 30 years of senior management experience, Mick possesses a strong understanding of international markets, strategic management, M&A, and profitable growth in engineering services. Prior to joining Alpine, Mick was the Chief Growth Officer at AECOM, the world’s largest integrated design and construction firm with annual revenue of US$20 billion and a workforce of 56,000. Mick also previously served as the CEO and Managing Director of Cardno, an AU$1.3 billion engineering, environmental, and management services company. While at Cardno, Mick grew the US operations staff from four to more than 4,500. “At Trilon, we believe infrastructure is the backbone of the communities we serve, Done well, infrastructure can improve lives by promoting opportunity, equity, sustainability, and safety. I am excited to partner with Alpine as we share common views on the importance of investing in talent and technology. We invest to both help leading firms like Waggoner thrive and give their team members new opportunities for career growth within the Trilon group. We know this type of platform can be the perfect future home for other like-minded businesses.” -Trilon CEO Mick Renshaw Trilon’s and Mick’s focus on scaling and elevating talent to in-turn build enduring communities fits right in line with Alpine’s people-first culture, values, and goal of being a Force For Good in the world,” said Alpine Partner Dan Sanner. “We are ecstatic to welcome them to the family and to lend them our expertise in building enduring software and services businesses. Trilon is actively seeking partnerships with infrastructure services businesses in any of its key markets, including transportation, water, utilities, environment, and community infrastructure. Business owners interested in learning more about Trilon should contact Tyler Frances at tfrances@alpineinvestors.com. About Alpine Investors Alpine Investors is a people-driven private equity firm that is committed to building enduring companies by working with, learning from, and developing exceptional people. Alpine specializes in investments in companies in the software and services industries. Its PeopleFirst strategy includes a CEO program which allows Alpine to bring leadership to situations where additional or new management is needed post-transaction. Alpine is currently investing out of its $2.25 billion eighth fund. For more information, visit http://www.alpineinvestors.com. About Trilon Group Trilon group was formed with a vision to build the next Top 20 design firm in North America by bringing together some of the nation’s best infrastructure consulting firms. Key focus areas include Transportation, Water, Utilities, Environment, and Community Infrastructure. For more information, visit www.trilongroup.com. About Waggoner Engineering Waggoner Engineering, founded in 1976, is a civil engineering firm with a passion for helping communities realize their full potential. Today, Waggoner has expanded to 12 offices in five states and is recognized for its innovative, multi-disciplinary services that make it much more than a traditional engineering firm. For more information, visit www.waggonereng.com.

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Electra Progresses with Solvent Extraction Plant

ELBM | March 23, 2022

Electra Battery Materials Corporation updated the construction of North America's only battery grade cobalt refinery. It said that the foundation work for the solvent extraction plant had begun. The project stays on budget and on time for completion in December 2022. Health, safety, and the environment remain significant priorities at the refinery, with no lost time events and no reportable spills or exceedances. The budget for project control has been maintained at US$67 million (C$84 million), and commissioning is scheduled for December 2022. The new solvent extraction building's construction has progressed with concrete pouring for the foundations. Late last year, the plant's earthworks were completed. The pre-engineered structure is projected to be completed by the end of April. All equipment with a long lead time has been ordered. The verification of brownfield mechanical equipment is 77% complete, with all significant existing equipment having been examined. The existing mechanical/electrical and instrumentation equipment performed admirably, requiring minor changes when tested. The construction of the cobalt crystallizer circuit will commence in the following weeks, with critical equipment arriving on site between April and June. "Our team has been focused on both the recommissioning of our existing refinery equipment and preparing the site for the construction of the new solvent extraction and crystallizer plant facilities, These are important milestones and a credit to our project owner's team and our consultants who continue to demonstrate a disciplined commitment to executing this project. With no lost-time incidents at site, we continue to stress our values on health and safety, which speaks to the commitment of our team to delivering the project with zero lost time incidents in parallel with being on time and on budget." Mark Trevisiol, Vice President, Project Development "Canada is becoming a key player in the midstream of the North American electric vehicle supply chain," said Trent Mell, CEO. "Recent investment decisions by some of the largest players in the EV industry continue to validate our early-mover strategy. While our team continues to deliver on the recommissioning of the refinery, we are aggressively pursuing commercial partnerships and growth opportunities to deliver value to shareholders." Electra intends to develop a fully integrated battery materials park through the use of its hydrometallurgical refinery. In addition, Electra intends to develop a Battery Materials Park with cobalt and nickel sulfate manufacturing facilities, a large-scale lithium-ion battery recycling facility, and a battery precursor materials partnership to support North American and European electric vehicles production. Existing supply chain constraints have been worsened further in the last month by the emergence of COVID in China and Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. In the procurement process, Electra took a deliberate decision to acquire long-lead components from nations thought less likely to encounter supply chain disruptions. This has shown to be a prudent technique, as our current schedule remains consistent with the original. While this was difficult to foresee, management believes that effective equipment delivery to the refinery is substantially on time. While the spike in commodity prices is not expected to affect overall capital expenses at the moment, management is constantly monitoring the situation and believes that any impact, if any, will be small. Electra's business goal is to manufacture enough battery materials annually to power up to 1.5 million electric vehicles. The Company is on track to commission its cobalt sulfate facility in Q4 2022. The cobalt factory will be the first of four phases of the development of Electra's Battery Materials Park. In addition, Electra wants to expand its nickel sulfate processing capacity in the following years and recycle primary and secondary battery scrap materials and precursor production.

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Why lenders shouldn’t overlook Modern Methods of Construction projects

PBC Today | November 06, 2020

John Carter, commercial director for commercial real estate at Aldermore bank, explores the importance of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in an evolving industry. Modern Methods of Construction are increasingly being used in the construction industry today. In recent times they’ve moved from being something out of a science fiction novel to reality, particularly in the construction of units such as student accommodation and hotels. To some lenders, MMC is still relatively unfamiliar so they tend to take a conservative approach when deciding whether to invest in such projects. Yet the primary consideration for any lender should be the quality of the project making MMC not something to overlook as long as certain standards and criteria are met. MMC is a wide-ranging term that covers many different types and techniques of construction. Generally, it involves precision off-site manufacture engineering of either key components (a panelised system) or whole sealed units up to first fittings (wiring and plumbing) in a factory environment; with some methods mirroring that of the automotive industry.

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