What is Construction Technology?
Our homes, offices, finances, and even health have become smarter and more automated thanks to the advancement of cutting-edge technology.
The construction industry has more recently started to break serious ground in this area with the adoption of technologies such as AR & VR, BIM (Building Information Modelling), IoT (Internet of Things), machine learning, and robotics to name a few.
Digital Transformation Post-Covid
As we transition into a post-COVID world, where virtual collaboration is just as important as face-to-face, digital transformation will become an integral part of our future success. In simple terms, digital transformation replaces non-digital processes with digital processes.
For decades, the construction landscape battled with inefficient processes, endless paperwork, and a lack of accountability. Now innovative tools, machinery, and software are driving great advancement and increasing efficiency, productivity, and safety across the board.
Listed are six popular technologies taking off in the construction industry with architects, designers, managers, construction teams, landlords and clients directly benefitting from the results:
- Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is not just for gamers anymore. These technologies were some of the first to be adopted by construction for their ability to offer complete immersive experiences with designers, architects, managers, subcontractors, and clients now able to take virtual tours of a building model, showing the layout and design of the finished project.
Other benefits for VR and AR use include improved collaboration for teams working remotely, real-time design feedback with 3D visualisation, risk assessments with hazard simulations and clash detections and training.
- Building Information Modelling/ 3D Printing
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the process of creating and managing information for a built asset, producing a digital representation of a structure across its lifecycle. BIM reduces change orders, eliminate risks by anticipating challenges, digitises the construction, connects project information from design through to construction and handover, and provides property owners with valuable building information.
- The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is made up of a system of smart devices and sensors which all collect and share data over a wireless network. For construction, this means machinery will become more efficient with the ability to self-maintain and heal without human intervention.
Other benefits include footfall tracking, increased safety with hazardous areas identified and alerting workers. IoT will also have a positive impact on carbon footprint with vehicles switching off when not in use, accurate waste monitoring and enhanced layouts for reduced site travel.
Exoskeletons/suits are wearable machines with motorized joints, providing support and power during repetitive movements like bending, lifting, and grabbing. Exoskeletons originally took off for injury and rehabilitation purposes but have since gained momentum as a tool to reduce injuries and increase efficiency for construction workers.
Some suits are electrically powered, others simply redistribute weight throughout the body reducing lifting strain and preventing fatigue. The industry is also looking toward construction robots to ease the burden by offloading certain risky and difficult tasks to machines.
Robotics and drone technology are gradually being adopted onto construction sites to improve safety, deliveries, and efficiency. Drones are used to survey large areas for danger, offer a spare pair of eyes for construction managers, and deliver materials around the site.
Repetitive tasks like bricklaying and masonry can be performed very well by robots with improved speed and quality. Other uses for robots include demolition and autonomous vehicles able to function without much human interference.
- AI/Machine Learning
The gains for the construction industry are monumental with Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning. AI is the ability for technology to make decisions independent of human input, while machine learning is the ability for technology to “learn” as it goes.
Software using machine learning processes can identify risks and safety violations from site photos. Past project analysis can identify inefficiencies and propose more effective timelines, and with the ability to learn over time, machine learning software can improve building design aspects by exploring hundreds of variations.
Feedback from the Experts
The third Construction Technology Festival held recently in Dubai reported digital transformation in construction is improving overall safety, reducing waste, streamlining processes, and providing direct financial benefits. In a post-pandemic world, it is clear technology will become the leading tool for the industry behind some of the most impressive structures in the world.