6 Types of Construction Technology Changing The Industry
According to Deloitte’s 2021 engineering and construction industry outlook, 76 percent of engineering and construction executives indicated that they are planning to invest in digital technology this year.
There are real, practical applications and benefits to modernising current processes. If your construction company wants to maintain a competitive edge, you’ll need to find ways to integrate new approaches into your strategy and workflows.
Investing in the latest construction technology is helping business owners facilitate digital transformations and stay ahead of the competition.
The following 6 types of construction technology are changing the industry. These are the cutting-edge technologies drastically changing how the industry operates and how future projects will be completed.
1. Software & Mobile Apps
Apps are becoming more of the norm in construction, and for good reason. The increased portability of tablets and smartphones allows for greater communication and the ability to work from anywhere. Today there are software and mobile solutions to help manage pretty much every aspect of a construction project.
From preconstruction to scheduling, project management and field reporting to managing your back office. There’s a software solution out there to help streamline processes and improve productivity. Most software solutions are cloud-based. This allows changes and updates to documents, schedules, and other management tools to be made in real time. Which facilitates better communication and collaboration.
Specifically, data collection apps are helping construction companies gather faster, more accurate and higher quality data from the jobsite. Integrating this type of technology into your current processes is simple and requires a smaller upfront investment while still providing major benefits, including:
- Significant time savings & reduced data entry errors.
- Enhanced workflows.
- Improved safety compliance.
- Instant reporting.
Drones are the most widely used emerging construction technology. They can conduct site surveys more quickly and accurately than a crew on the ground. They are also cheaper than aerial imaging. Their high resolution cameras and the data collected can create interactive 3D or topographical maps and models, and take volume measurements.
Drones can be used to quickly conduct jobsite inspections and identify potential hazards. They can also be used to monitor workers throughout the day to help ensure everyone is working safely. Drones can be used to take photos as work progresses. These can be used to create ‘as-built models’ of jobsites to keep everyone informed of the changing work conditions each day.
Drones are also being used to tackle more dangerous jobs, like bridge and building inspections. This won’t eliminate the need for workers. However it will mean that workers will need to be trained on how to use the technology to perform these tasks.
3. Building Information Modeling (BIM) Software
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a process that incorporates digital representations of buildings in 3D models to facilitate better collaboration among all stakeholders on a project. This can lead to better design and construction of buildings.
The use of BIM provides space for better collaboration. Each person and expertise area can add their piece to the same model. Changes to the BIM model occur in real time. Any changes or updates to the model are instantly communicated to all team members when they access the model. BIM also helps with problem solving in the design and planning stages of a project. It automates clash detection and providing a more complete picture of the project. Everyone is working with the most up-to-date information at all times.
The type of immersive visualisation made possible by Virtual Reality paired with BIM will lead to better collaboration and communication. VR will also lead to greater acceptance and implementation of BIM. Most virtual reality applications being developed for the are using BIM models as the basis to create virtual environments.
With AR, a project manager or contractor could walk through a construction site and easily view an overlay of a BIM model on top of as-built construction and compare the two. At the same time, they could be accessing checklists completing a daily report using a heads-up display. The project manager could instantly take photos or record the augmented reality walkthrough and send it back to the design team for clarification as issues arise.
According to Research and Market’s 2021 Building Information Modelling Market Report, emerging trends that will have a direct impact on the industry include AI development in BIM, increased demand for BIM-based cloud collaboration, and modular construction and prefabrication.
4. Virtual Reality and Wearables
Virtual reality technology is often used in conjunction with BIM to help better understand complex projects. Think of the potential: you create a building design with BIM and then are able to use VR to actually walk around it. Pretty cool, right? This will give your team, or the client, an even more realistic idea of what the project will look like once completed. Having a more complete grasp on the project before it begins gives you the opportunity to avoid big changes and expensive change orders mid-way through.
Safety training and equipment operator training are another two areas where(VR) could have a strong impact on the construction industry. With VR, workers could get exposure to environments such as confined spaces or working at height in a safe, controlled environment.
VR simulators have been used for years to train soldiers, pilots, and surgeons. They could be used in the same way to train workers on everything from operating cranes and excavators to doing welding and masonry work.
Wearables are a construction technology that are not only making a positive impact on safety, but also productivity. AsphaltPro published a recent article on the topic, reporting that wearable technology in the construction industry can increase productivity by 8.5 percent and workplace satisfaction by 3.5 percent. The article also highlighted some notable products on the market. These include XOEye Smart Glasses, Spot-r Wearable Sensor and Redpoint Positioning Safety Vest Sensors.
5. 3D Printing
3D printing as a construction technology has the potential to change material sourcing. For prefabrication, materials for a project can be printed and then transported to the job site, ready for use immediately. This can allow you to get materials faster and streamline the process by removing extra steps in the middle.
3D printing makes it possible to print materials right on site, reducing waste and further saving on transportation and storage costs. However, one of the current challenges with adoption of this technology is limitations with mass production. Although some 3D printers can produce on a larger scale, they are expensive.
Current robots are good at doing simple, repetitive tasks which is why we are seeing things like bricklaying robots . Once set up, these robots can work continuously to complete tasks faster than human workers. All without needing to take breaks or go home for a good night’s sleep. Robots don’t get tired from lifting bricks, applying mortar and setting them in place.
Humans are still needed to perform some of the work. Workers are required to set up the robots and get them started. For the bricklaying robot, a mason is needed to oversee the work. They ensure bricks are correctly placed and clean up the mortar after they’ve been set. Instead of replacing workers, most construction robots are there to aid and augment a worker’s performance. This enables the worker to be more productive.
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