Construction is rapidly changing and technology has played a tremendous role in regards to this transformation. The perplexity of building projects is going up, while productivity and efficiency rates are going down. As a result, the advent of digitization can be a valuable gift for the sector.
Nonetheless, many construction stakeholders still can’t fully understand the impact that technology will have on the way they work and build in the near future. This resistance has created critical issues to construction.
Mark Farmer, Founding Director and CEO at Cast, recently published a very informative report entitled ‘Modernise or Die’ about the serious challenges that the sector is battling against at the moment and the ways in which digital tools could pave the path for a more transparent and accountable construction industry.
With this in mind, we decided to take a closer look at the numerous changes that technology could bring in construction. Here are 10 of most notable transformations which are already changing the industry:
1. BIM (Building Information Modelling)
Building Information Modelling has played a significant role in modernizing the way construction operates. Since BIM has the ability to digitally represent the building structure, it can be a crucial source of providing clients with a glimpse of what their future investment is going to look like. BIM also has evolved over time and emphasizes on team collaboration to be fully functional. In a nutshell, more collaboration signifies less mistrust between construction stakeholders.
The robotics industry has been making huge headways in the construction industry. Robotics can improve efficiency levels in construction processes. One such example is the famous robotic arm made by MIT, called the Digital Construction Platform. It works by using 3D printing technology to build a structure. Of course it is important to take notice of the industry’s stage. It is still new and researchers are still trying to work to create better technology that can be used on various construction projects.
3. Big data
Big data is taking over construction, as it provides a number of opportunities for the sector. It has already made a lot of success towards providing managers and contractors with project intelligence. Thanks to the vast amounts of data available, construction agents are able to predict the outcome of a project and prevent costly mistakes. Furthermore, it can provide valuable insight based on which future projects can be both designed and executed with higher precision.
4. Construction software
Software has played a significant role in modernizing various sectors. The same applies to the construction industry where it is constantly gaining more ground. To start with, we have construction software that offers a wide range of functions and features to clients and contractors. Project management software provides features such as budgeting, planning, forecasting, scheduling etc.
At the same time, there are software solutions that put emphasis on particular aspects of the building process. Scheduling software is such an example, as it makes sure that a project is always progressing according to the plan.
5. Virtual and augmented reality
Virtual reality tech in construction has attracted a lot of attention. It is, of course, due to its many uses. To begin with, VR enables virtual walkthroughs and allows both contractors and clients to witness a realistic display of what the project will eventually look like. This is a powerful element which is expected to boost accuracy during the construction process and reduce project costs and delays. Furthermore, it facilitates adjustments and changes to plans during the designing and planning phase.
VR also plays a strong role in training employees via stimulation. The resulting effect is less time wasted, smarter use of the equipment and safer environment. One example is the famous Daqri helmet.
Augmented reality has not gained the same popularity as VR in the world of construction but it is slowly making its presence known. AR tech’s job is to enhance an object or structure in a construction project via information. In other words, it provides measurements, material statistics and various other information about a given object.
6. Modular construction
Prefabricated or modular construction is a new way of doing things in the building sector. It has been gaining momentum for a while now. It’s a technology that allows most of the construction work to move off-site. The constructed structure is broken down into separate parts and created in a secure plant facility.
According to Modular.org, modular construction can move up to 80% of construction work off-site. On a similar note, Westchester Modular claims that modular construction increases construction project speed to up to 65 times.
7. Artificial intelligence
AI has developed in various ways. At the moment, Machine learning and Deep learning are its two most popular aspects. AI can bring a lot of benefits to the construction industry. In an article, Anand Rajagopal discusses that AI can contribute to construction in the follwoign ways:
i) generative design
ii) risk mitigation
Improvements in algorithms in order to solve complicated problems and come up with the best solution is also another way construction is being transformed by AI.
8. Innovative building materials
Various innovative materials are being created in order to improve the way things are working in construction. Largely due to the spirit of various researchers at well known universities. One such example is the development of cement that generates light. It is a special material created by Dr Carlos from UMSNH of Morelia. Another innovative method is creating bricks out of cigarette butts. A material to reduce the impact cigarettes have on the environment.
We will see more of these innovations that will slowly and surely bring a new light with the way things have been in construction.
9. Knowledge workers
The workers of the future in construction will be knowledge workers. This with technology comes the need to have a different way of using labour in construction projects. Intelligent workers who are capable of implementing new technologies in projects will be in demand. The change can be already seen and it is expected to become even more visible during the next ten years. A change in recruitment will appear and a great opportunity for construction to review its status and emerge as a field for promising long-term careers will become apparent.
Gamification is the use of gaming rules such as goals and points systems to increase project engagement and boost problem-solving. In construction, gamification is now a brilliant way to increase employee motivation and make the assigned tasks more interesting. By adding competition in projects or tasks, managers can increase the pace of their project and create a much productive atmosphere on-site.
A different take on gamification is to assess leadership skills in a cheap and unbiased way. A pretty good tactic to evaluate a potential manager or performance of current managers.
The list of different ways construction is transforming is increasing as we speak. Above are only a few of the emerging changes. In any case, the future of construction looks bright and now is the perfect time for new brave investments to come in the industry.