The world of construction is constantly evolving. Thanks to the rise of construction technology, the way buildings are designed and created is changing. In fact, the entire workflow is being disrupted.
EasyBuild CEO Carol Massey says: “As a leading CEO in the software construction sector, I fully appreciate the importance of innovation and how we all need to learn how to disrupt our old ways of working. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to learn to embrace technology advancement.”
Digitalisation is storming into more industries than ever and taking control of administration, processes and even manual labour. It brings with it a whole host of benefits, from an increase in productivity to safer sites.
But what are the biggest trends in construction technology at the moment? We’ve got everything you need to know about the eight most important ones and how they’re revolutionising the industry.
The 8 biggest technology trends in construction
1. Building information modelling
Collaboration is key to any project running smoothly, and that can be achieved with building information modelling (BIM). This intelligent 3D modelling of buildings means that every stakeholder and worker can work together to bring more accuracy to the process. Planning, designing and constructing are all made easier and more efficient.
Adoption of this technology has been on the up in recent years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, it could even reduce costs in the future thanks to improved sustainability and safety measures that can be introduced to projects.
2. Virtual and augmented reality
Wouldn’t life be easier if you could walk through your building before it was built? If you could see the little flaws that needed to be fixed? This isn’t a pipe dream – it’s real.
There’s a reason virtual reality is being used more and more in construction. It allows stakeholders to experience the finished project, meaning that changes can be made early on, saving time and money.
Along with augmented reality, this technology is transforming the construction industry. As well as improving BIM and allowing real-time design feedback, there is the potential for them to be used for safety improvements and training in the future.
3. Cloud-based technology
Large teams can be chaotic – everyone is working at their own speed and not always communicating. This is why collaborative platforms and cloud-based software solutions have taken off over the past few years.
Integrating every process into one fully connected platform brings with it a plethora of benefits. Supply chain information can be tracked in real time on the site, while your accountants back in head office can sort out your payroll with specialist accountancy modules. Everything you need to run your business is on one easy-to-navigate platform. Delays and communication issues are greatly reduced, and all with such a simple fix.
4. AI and machine learning
Artificial intelligence was once science fiction, but now it’s everywhere – and it’s appearing on more and more construction sites. Why? Because it’s saving time and increasing safety all at the same time. From mapping supply routes to searching for materials, the adoption of AI has meant that workers can get on with their jobs, so projects take less time to complete.
Away from the site, machine learning can be put to use in the planning process. It has the power to create alternatives to your designs and explore different variations of solutions to problems. It’s definitely something to look out for in the future.
5. Robots and drones
If you’re not already using robots and drones on your building sites, it’s a trend you need to tap into. Whether you’re after better safety or faster bricklaying, solutions are being created for a whole host of situations.
Drones have a multitude of uses. From up high they can identify danger areas or just give managers a quick view of the site so they don’t have to travel. They can also deliver materials to sites.
But it’s robots that are steaming ahead in this field. Construction Robotics has already developed a robot called SAM (Semi-Automated Mason), which can lay 3,000 bricks a day. Human builders usually average around 500 a day, so it’s definitely worth looking into this construction technology if you’re worried about the skills shortage.
Robots can also be used for demolitions. Although the process takes longer, it is a cheaper and safer option.
6. Wearable construction technology
Safety is a priority on any construction site, and it’s an area that technology is beginning to improve. With wearable tech, managers can track where workers are in the case of an accident. At the same time, exoskeletons allow builders to reduce strain and make sites safer.
Wearable technology goes further than this, though. Combined with AI, AR and VR, smart helmets, vests, glasses and more boost productivity, efficiency and effectiveness by allowing closer collaboration.
This technology is far from complete, though. Innovations are happening in this field all the time, so keep up to date with this trend to help your business evolve with the times.
7. 3D printing and off-site fabrication
Once upon a time, the idea of printing a house was absurd. Now it’s reality. In fact, a house can be 3D printed in less than 24 hours. A 3D office building has also been printed in just 17 days in Dubai, which was followed by only two days of on-site assembly.
Off-site fabrication – and 3D printing by extension – is a trend that has made a re-emergence. Originally gaining popularity in the post-World War II boom, it’s on its way back due to its reduced waste in materials and time. Less labour and materials also translates into money saved, so it’s hard to find a downside. This trend is evolving constantly, so keep your eyes peeled for new ways in which it could help your business.
8. Technology for sustainability
Sustainability is a trend everywhere, and for good reason – we use more resources than the Earth can provide us with. As always, huge problems lead to great innovation, and that’s what we have seen in this trend.
An extra push has been seen in the form of legislation. Building regulations are now geared towards new constructions minimising environmental impact and promoting sustainability.
New materials have been created to encourage sustainable construction. Aerogel, for instance, has excellent insulating abilities, which in turn creates energy and cost savings. A recyclable and reusable substance, it’s created by removing all liquid to leave a silica structure that is up to 99% air.
This is definitely a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon, so it’s time to bring it into your business plans if you haven’t already.