Advanced technologies enable construction companies to save money and create buildings in ways previously thought impossible. Here are a few technologies that could help you.
Globally, construction lags behind many other industries when it comes to the use of technology for productivity and efficiency. “If you can standardise processes and rationalise the way things are done using technology, and basically cease to use a lot of the manual processes that are currently in place, there are enormous efficiency gains to be had,” says Milton Walters, CEO at Textura Australasia.
With advanced technology already serving as a game-changer in construction, why not prepare to be part of the disruption instead of being prey to it?
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“Many tech innovations that started out as novelties or gimmicks are quickly finding their way to practical applications in the built environment sector,” according to B1M. Virtual Reality (VR) and 3D-printing are no longer just applications that come with your smartphone or used to create keyrings. Construction companies can create functional items for their buildings on-site, using VR and 3D tools.
The influence of technology on construction
“Technology within construction, as with other industries, really has to make other people’s lives easier. It has to be accessible from anywhere at any time, it has to be supported and be easy to use. Whether it’s the finance team in the office or project managers on a site,” adds Walters.
He says that the industry is still largely paper-based causing inefficiency by comparison to technologically based solutions available. But, the shift from paper to screen isn’t an easy one and everyone needs to get on board in order to take full advantage of the technological progression available.
“It needs to be integrated between all players on a project, not just within the host organisation, but outside of it to be truly collaborative,” says Walters.
“People are the key to the success of technology in any organisation, and it’s no different within construction. They need to feel supported, trained, and they need to feel like [tech’s] making their lives easier.”
Construction tech trends dominating 2017
1. Wearable tech
Putting the myriad of apps already used by the industry onto the arms of professionals, wearable tech can be used for a number of purposes on a building site including:
- Monitoring locations of people on-site
- Taking role calls quickly and efficiently
- Checking the heart-rates and body temperatures of employees.
2. Virtual Reality (and Augmented Reality)
The invention of the Daqri Smart Helmet introduces augmented reality (AR) into the field through data visualisation, thermal vision, guided work instructions and remote expert access. “It erases the line between what you know and what you don't know,” says Matt Kammerait, vice president of Innovation for Daqri.
VR and AR are gaining traction in construction and is being used as a valuable tool for both employee and employer. Health and safety training and stakeholder engagement are its key applications thus far.
It’s thought this could lead into overlays of data for site personnel, bringing them everything they need from construction-issue information and specifications, to stats on productivity and health and safety warnings.
3. 3D Printing
The ability to 3D-print physical objects is impacting construction at both ends of the scale. Accurate digital design information allows 3D-printing to be used for everything from rapid prototyping, component manufacture and scale modelling, to full-scale printing of excavator cabs and the concrete printing of entire structures.
Pepper Construction explains how technology has impacted the way they do business: “How has technology changed construction? It has gone from a supporting function to a business driver. Construction has come a long way because of technology, particularly over the past 30 years. Yet, we are still gaining momentum, and we are still an industry ripe for innovation.”
Walters agrees, adding that it’s going to be disruptive: “But those that get on board will be the ones that really prevail.”
Related: How to start a 3D printing business
Prepare for technology to change the game and cause disruption in the construction industry through innovations such as wearable tech, virtual and augmented reality, and 3D-printing, to alleviate the pressure on margins and really drive productivity and efficiency within the sector.