4 Big Takeaways from CONEXPO 2020

2020 conexpo recap and takeaways

As the global construction industry came together for CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 on March 10-13 in Las Vegas, it became apparent to us at Autodesk that the construction industry feels as excited as ever about what the jobsite of the future may look like. With 130,000 registrations for the once-every-three-year event, the hunger for new innovation and technology was readily apparent across the vast expo halls.

CONEXPO gives industry leaders the chance to explore the latest equipment, products, services, and technologies for the construction industry. It also hosts an industry-leading education track for those looking to uplevel their on-the-job best practices. This year’s event hosted over 2,300 exhibitors from global manufacturers that ranged in size from small firms to multinational corporations. The expo hall’s diversity of offerings continues to be staggering in scale, with a record 2.7 million-plus net square feet of exhibits (up from 2.5 million in 2017).

For now, here are four of our favorite takeaways from the 2020 event.

1. A Spotlight on Trust in Construction 

Amongst the sea of machinery and technology vendors, something more human rose to the top of conversations at CONEXPO 2020: trust. During the event, Autodesk and FMI released a new report highlighting the impact of trust in the construction industry

“Trust matters. The greater degree of trust in an organization, the greater the payoff,” said Jay Bowman, Managing Director of Research & Analytics, FMI, at a press conference held at CONEXPO.

According to the research, high trust companies could potentially save millions of dollars annually from lower turnover rates, fewer missed schedules, and more repeat business. The full report, “Trust Matters: The High Cost of Low Trust,” is now available to download. 

2. The Rise of Connected Tools

When it came to technology, CONEXPO 2020 exhibited nearly every gadget, gizmo, and software available to today’s construction professionals. It’s now obvious that there is an innovation renaissance happening in the industry as we speak. 

But with more technology comes the possibility of creating even more divide and data silos than ever before. That’s why we heard many attendees talk about the need to connect their lifecycle data with the right tools.

“Having the seamless integration is definitely going to be helpful to us as contractors,” said one attendee visiting the Autodesk Construction Cloud booth. Hear more insight in the videos below: 

Other technology and equipment providers are following suit when it comes to serving the construction industry in this new, connected world. “To further unlock the benefits of connectivity, we’re developing simpler ways to generate measurement data,” said Rod Schrader, chairman and CEO of Komatsu America in a recent ENR Article. At CONEXPO 2020, the company announced that they were launching services to expand on its line of intelligent earthmoving machines’ 3D grade-control capabilities.

3. Positive Strides for Construction Culture on the Horizon

Offering complimentary learning and networking opportunities, the 2020 AGC Conference was also happening in Las Vegas during the same time as CONEXPO. One of the most exciting moments of the show was when Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Autodesk announced the 21 recipients of the grants for custom safety harnesses and mandatory training. This announcement was the result of a partnership between Autodesk and AGC. By funding a grant program to supply select, in-need member contractors with fall protection harnesses sized for women who work at height, the organizations hope to drive both a safer and more inclusive construction culture for all. 

On the heels of Women in Construction Week, CONEXPO 2020 provided more opportunities to highlight the growing role of women in construction play in the industry than in year’s past. This year, the conference partnered with women in construction groups, including the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Women of Asphalt (WOFA).

“Our industry and our companies all benefit from a diverse workforce,” said Amy Miller, P.E., president of WofA. “Through Women of Asphalt, we are looking to fulfill industry workforce needs by engaging with women at schools, through our podcast, and in-person events to show them all they can achieve with a career in the asphalt industry.”

At CONEXPO 2020, a 3D printed statue of a female construction worker was revealed to represent the growing role that women play in the construction industry worldwide. The statue is also the largest 3D printed statue of a person in the world, standing nineteen feet tall and is placed upon a ten-foot base. The statue joins two other existing statues featuring male construction workers that greet CONEXPO attendees as they enter the conference halls.

women in construction 3d printed statue

4. The Construction Community is Amazing and Resilient

Throughout the show, we were overwhelmed with the positivity and kindness we experienced in every one of the 2.7 million square feet we were able to visit. As the largest CONEXPO in attendance to date, it could be easy to get swept away in the hecticness. Nevertheless, it was clear resiliency outshone everything, and the community showed up to learn, share, and have a good time – fist bumps and all.

CONEXPO is just one week every three years, but we know construction professionals are no strangers to the unexpected and constantly evolving scenarios. While enjoying a few beers in our Beer Garden, we asked a few attendees how they #BuildRainOrShine – whether that’s in freezing temperatures or extreme weather events. Watch the video below:

Did you attend CONEXPO 2020? We’d love to know more about your experiences at the show. Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Eric Thomas

Eric is a Sr. Multimedia Content Marketing Manager at Autodesk and hosts the Digital Builder podcast. He has worked in the construction industry for over a decade at top ENR General Contractors and AEC technology companies. Eric has worked for Autodesk for nearly 5 years and joined the company via the PlanGrid acquisition. He has held numerous marketing roles at Autodesk including managing global industry research projects and other content marketing programs. Today Eric focuses on multimedia programs with an emphasis on video.