The construction industry has always been one of the sectors that have been slow to uptake on new technology. This is due to the high standards of accuracy required in order to implement new techniques to ensure top safety and lifespan of any project.
However, in the last few years, technology has begun to transform to meet these requirements. From construction site wifi to utilising drones and robotics, professionals in the construction industry are beginning to take advantage of new technologies to increase efficiency, reduce costs and cut carbon emissions to help run a smooth site.
Below, we take a look at 2020’s construction technology trends and how they are being implemented across the sector.
1. Blockchain Technologies
Blockchain is a form of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and it is becoming increasingly popular throughout the construction industry.
Using Blockchain alleviates any financial worries with the contract for all parties involved. Payment is safely stored with these third parties awaiting completion of a pre-agreed contract.
Contractors are no longer burdened with the worry of unpaid projects and clients can be safe in the knowledge that they will not be at risk of losing funds due to ‘cowboy builders’.
2. Big Data
Big Data is exactly that, large quantities of data that can be analysed and turned into actionable insight and it is quickly becoming the currency of the digital world.
But with over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being generated every day, without Big Data, it can be seemingly impossible to evaluate such large sums of information.
Big Data can dissect incredibly large amounts of information in a fraction of the time a human brain could, with fewer or no errors.
Historical data can be used within construction to determine the optimum times to commence a project by learning from previous weather and traffic patterns.
It can even aid in reducing wasted costs but evaluating previous projects’ overspend and unused materials.
3. Mobile & Cloud Technologies
Cloud technology enables ease of access to information from any device in any location while remaining secure with password-protected portals while connected to the internet.
Not only is this reducing paper copies within the construction industry, a notoriously tricky practice to maintain during the digital age, but it also provides the ability for better collaboration.
No longer are teams having to await signoff for designs and equipment as managers await documents in the post.
Teams can also collaborate with each other in real-time and provide immediate feedback and ideas that can be witnessed by all those with authorisation.
4. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
AI is programmed to mimic human behaviour while ML does this, but also learns from previous experience. Both are being rolled out within almost every construction site in the country.
Both can be programmed to complete tasks that are repetitive such as bricklaying or pouring concrete. This means workers are no longer required to complete these time consuming, monotonous tasks and can be free to undertake more complex ones.
ML can take historical data and create action plans for better financial management while providing ways to be more efficient throughout the project.
It can even increase safety as sensors and photography can alert workers when they are not in the correct PPE while in hazardous zones.
5. 3D Printing
3D printers are not new, but what they are able to create has evolved rapidly in recent years. By implementing 3D printers onsite is now generating more ability within the sector to create new ways for problem-solving.
Bespoke pieces can be printed for unique sections of the project and can be tried and tested at a nominal cost.
Materials can be printed in large quantities and altered as and when needed. This is also reducing wait times for materials to be delivered, while also reducing delivery trucks on our roads, leading to reduced carbon emissions.
6. Robotics & Drones
Once reserved for hobbyists, robotics and drones are now being seen as the norm within the construction industry.
Demolition robots are increasingly popular, albeit slower than the human equivalent, they are safer and cost less.
Drones are being used to fly in materials in record times, some of these can be onsite within an hour of ordering.
Cameras on drones are also being used to provide a quick bird’s eye view of sites. This means site managers can get a quick overview of construction, while also being made alert of any unseen hazards and risks that may not be visible at ground level.
7. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
VR created a fully immersive digital experience, while AR generates digital elements within a real world.
Virtual reality is being implemented to provide walkthrough tours to designers, contractors and clients before construction has even begun. This gives all parties a true to life look at what the finished project will look like, ensuring all parties have a full understanding of what is to be constructed.
By showing digital items in a real environment, clients have a better understanding of what will be provided to them on completion.
Site managers are utilising this to be able to create risk assessments without having to be physically present on the site, reducing any waiting times for the project to begin.
8. 5G and Wi-Fi 6
Internet connection is essential for all manner of business and without a fast one, projects can be left at the mercy of a slow connection.
While broadband is the best option for most sites, it isn’t always viable, temporary projects can cause this to be counterproductive or an immediate connection may be required before permission to install broadband is acquired.
5G and wi-fi 6 are significantly faster than their predecessors and are providing instant, fast and secure connectivity for all devices, ensuring no pauses in construction are due to loss of connection.
9. The Internet of Things (IoT)
Devices that are connected and controlled by one central platform is known as the internet of things.
Smart devices, such as wearable technology are increasingly popular within construction. This can alert workers when they have entered a danger zone and with social distancing guidelines, this can tell workers when they are in breach.
Sensors are being installed within machinery to alleviate workers having to waste man-hours checking these. Cement mixers can notify workers when they are empty and machinery that is not in use can automatically turn off.
10. BIM Technology
Building Information Technology is software that allows the best collaboration between departments during the design process, without each team member needing knowledge within another field.
This can detect clashes within the design, such as electrical and plumbing systems. Not only are these clashes picked up, but BIM can also provide problem-solving solutions.
It’s an exciting year for construction, with the application of these technologies, costs are reduced, man-hours are being used on more complex tasks and a site’s impact on the planet can also be significantly reduced.