Each passing year, technology continues its trend of aiding businesses and individuals increase efficiency: warehouse robots transforming the logistics industry, the remote work model replacing more desk jobs post-pandemic, and AI in radiology able to better detect anomalies in X-rays by seeing shades that a doctor’s eyes could easily miss.
The construction industry is no different with several new trends combatting construction’s largest problems from delays raising costs to a lack of data collection affecting decision-making. Here are 6 construction technologies to take your projects to the next level.
Internet of Things
The future of construction involves ubiquitous data automatically being transmitted to project owners, managers, and contractors in real-time. This allows leaders to always stay informed and make decisions backed up by data.
Most IoT devices used in construction are connected via satellite, and some come with batteries, meaning although you need the internet to view the data, the data itself will always be transmitted to servers even during harsh conditions and power failures. Many of the trends in construction relate to IoT one way or another, and projects that invest in IoT devices should see long-term benefits in efficiency and cost savings. IoT comes in many forms of hardware; to read more on what IoT is click here.
Construction Management Software
Managing construction projects with software has traditionally made projects more efficient, but it is important those software evolve to create and automate complex workflows, are easy and quick to learn for use, and can integrate with IoT technology.
IoT has been the single-biggest trend in construction software. Consistently receiving data from worksites, equipment, and assets into a system that neatly organizes and displays the most relevant information is important in combatting some of the industry’s problems of labor shortages, delays, variations, and going over budgets.
Additionally, some construction software also allow for notifications and automatically issuing work orders when data reaches above or below a certain range, thus increasing efficiency and saving costs, giving some construction projects an advantage.
Wearables increase productivity and safety for workers on construction sites. This includes labor tracking such as through AI cameras to determine a worker’s location throughout a site. Another wearable for worker safety, which usually goes around a worker’s wrist, monitors vitals including blood oxygen saturation and heart rates. Many wearables even allow workers to signal alerts during emergency situations.
Surveying to build plans, track progress, and analyze hazards used to involve either walking around a site or driving a vehicle with occasional stops. While traditional methods such as those aren’t going away, they are becoming less and replaced with drone monitoring that can conveniently fly over sites and rough terrain, through tunnels, or to the outside of high-rise buildings.
Cameras on drones are also capable of having captured footage be converted into 3D models. Drones themselves have the potential to become an IoT device of its own as more cameras used in construction are optimized with AI for data collection and tracking.
It used to be that projects had to be sketched first before it could be constructed. Now, with BIM and IoT, 3D models of projects can be created in the pre-construction process with IoT providing critical data to aid the modeling. AR technology is the natural next step of that as models built, either entire structures or individual parts, can be visually overlayed onto real worksites and viewed through a camera.
AR will allow leaders to visualize construction projects and workflows. This becomes useful not only before projects begin, but also during or after projects such as when one can stand above ground and view 3D models through a camera of where cables lay underground without having to dig. Another example would be using wearables such as the DAQRI smart glasses to check alignments of BIM models with physically-built structures.
Building Information Modeling
BIM technology empowers engineers and architects in construction to build 3D models of infrastructure, building, and worksites. While constructing 3D models with a program on a computer may not seem new, BIM is 3D modeling specifically designed for construction and related industries. It allows multiple layers and types of structures to be designed and fused together to plan and make changes to construction projects.
IoT and other hardware such as drones mentioned earlier work with BIM by making it easier to build such 3D models. Data collected from IoT, for example, is used to help BIM designs by informing on peoples’ movements and energy patterns.
The construction industry continues to grow rapidly with an expected market size of over $12 trillion by the end of 2021. However, to maintain a competitive advantage in this crowded industry, leaders will need to evaluate which technologies to adopt to improve efficiency and save costs in construction.