It’s no secret that the advent of new technologies has changed decisively the way we live, work and eventually the way we build. The construction industry is under a substantial change which so far results in improved margins, increased productivity and more automation on site.
It goes without saying that this paradigm shift takes a lot of time and it can be quite challenging. That being said, it is indispensable for people who work in construction to acquire a good understanding of the possibilities that digital technologies are opening for them.
Otherwise, there is a serious danger for the sector to fail in taking the most out of new technologies and the impressive digital tools that are emerging on a continuous basis.
Good news is that the construction industry seems to do a pretty good job so far in embracing innovation and catching up with the latest technological trends. Afterall, the smarter we build the bigger the profits both for the sector and the society.
With that in mind, we did our due diligence and we have listed below five vital ways in which technology is transforming construction:
1. Robotics and AI
First things first, robotics and artificial intelligence are already shaking up the construction industry. The element of automation is expected to change substantially the daily working routine both on site and in the office.
Self-driven vehicles and self-operated building equipment are gradually appearing on the field and help construction workers with completing their tasks faster and with greater precision. Furthermore, higher precision means increased levels of safety, as well. Especially when we refer to construction projects which take place in unstable or unapproachable ground it becomes understandable that self-driven vehicles and robotic equipment in general can save laborers from a lot of trouble.
Drones are another excellent example of robotics in construction. The building team can effortlessly supervise the progress of the project from a safety distance. On top of that, they can map out the entire working area and adjust their upcoming tasks accordingly.
It doesn’t take much to see, then, that artificial intelligence technology holds great potential for the building sector. For now, it seems to be one of the most convincing answers against low productivity margins and high accident rates in construction.
2. Project management
Digital tools are fastly changing the way we collaborate and manage a construction project, too. Being able to exchange crucial information in real-time can empower the connection between the construction site and the office. Everybody can remain in the same page and avoid costly mistakes or painful delays.
For this to happen, the use of construction software is necessary. Step by step all the stakeholders of the sector begin to realize that it isn’t a luxury anymore. To the contrary, it’s a necessity if your goal is to keep your project running smoothly.
More specifically, here are some of the most essential benefits that project management software can provide:
- Send updates and photos from the site back to the office and find solutions in real-time.
- Improve project collaboration and keep everyone informed about the latest updates.
- Protect your data and use them as an effective source of truth once a project dispute arises.
- Save time thanks to automatically generated progress reports.
- Stay on top of the numerous tasks with no hassle.
It becomes clear, then, that if used right a digital tool can truly optimize the construction process and become a game-changer for the sector.
We couldn’t refer to collaboration and digital technologies in construction without taking into consideration BIM. During the last years, the first steps toward a more open and BIM compliant building process have been taken.
The United Kingdom is a great example toward that direction with the introduction of BIM Level 2 mandate in all public projects some years ago. Despite the problems that its implementation has faced so far, it’s a brave step to a more integrative construction industry.
Like that, it will be able for all members of a project regardless of the organization they belong to stay up-to-date with every little change or detail in regard to the project.
Furthermore, through the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality the project team will be able to navigate through the future building structures and constantly optimize both the design and the operation phase of the project.
4. Smart materials
It comes as no surprise that a smart building process requires smart materials, too. Thanks to new technologies, this is another major area of interest which has seen a lot of development in construction during the last two decades.
Self-healing concrete, smart bricks and transparent aluminium are only a few examples of where materials are heading. At a first glimpse, this type of materials might sounds as an expensive option. Nevertheless, they should be seen as a long-term investment which is anticipated to accelerate the building process and optimize the quality of construction.
In addition, smart materials can also be very helpful for the environment. They are created by environmentally friendly sources and they have a much smaller impact on the environment. All in all, smart materials can lead to buildings that can improve the life of their inhabitants and simplify the building process.
5. Modular construction
Last but certainly not least it’s modular construction. This type of construction has been around for quite a while and it has been broadly used in the offshore building sector. However, with the progress of technology it has become better and it is expected to take the whole industry by storm.
The main reason behind this trend has to do with the fact that it enables faster and easier completion of the operations on site. The ability to create certain structures in a protected environment (aka factory) and their transition to the construction site once they are done makes things much simpler and help contractors to avoid delays in their projects due to extreme natural phenomena and low on-site productivity.
Wrapping it up!
To sum up, it becomes apparent that construction is changing and that innovation is around the corner for the sector. Nonetheless, it’s a demanding journey which requires constant effort and a well-elaborated plan which will make the transition this new era simpler and empower the paradigm shift of the industry.
About the author: Anastasios Koutsogiannis is Content Marketing Manager at GenieBelt.