The digital revolution forgets no sector, and technology can be a huge asset for the construction industry, in construction projects, tenders, and real estate. Internationally, technologies are being piloted and others are still in progress, aiming to make already implemented processes easier and integrate new possibilities and interactions with data.
Below are some key areas in which construction has seen exciting and dramatic changes as a result of continued technological advances:
Away with the Drones
2014 was the year of ‘drone technology’ – small, remotely operated multiple-rotor aircrafts. Armed with high-resolution digital cameras and advanced software, they take surveying to new heights. Today, drones are popping up everywhere, and the jobsite is no different. If you look out, you may see drones checking on job progress and keeping the site secure. Drones map worksites and keep tabs on productivity. Footage is even used to analyse when jobs will be finished and to show progress to clients.
3D through the decades
Ten years ago, the invention of digital maps became a revolution. Everything now, even the interior of shopping centres, has been digitally mapped, and can be used by different technologies for various applications – for example 3D rendering.
3D printing and carbon fibre are now changing the way items like turbine blades are constructed. The carbon fibre is printed in honeycomb-shaped structures, with reinforced cell walls making it durable. The 3D union has the potential to reduce the time required to produce components from weeks to mere hours.
The German PropTech (Property Technology) initiative implements technology in industrial construction. It also has a company called Building Radar, which offers an easy way to find all contacts within the construction industry. It helps employees find data much quicker, leaving users with more time to complete the essential tasks of their profession. PropTech offers visualisation products and project management tools, and many other applications that provide value and cost savings for their users.
Wearing your technology
Technological innovations are seeping into the industry so thoroughly that even the traditional hard hat is changing. A Smart Helmet gives instructions on completing tasks and warns of potential hazards. It may not come cheap, but it’s arguably worth it for the committed construction worker who aims to keep up with digital trends.
Devices such as the Oculus Rift exploded in 2014 when they became available for nearly any construction firm. These systems, combining advanced software and dual displays, meant designers and clients were able to bring information to life.
In 2015 Microsoft introduced Hololens – a virtual reality headset used on construction projects. It enables workers to immerse themselves in a powerful 3D projection, and interact with it, even drawing in the air and adding notes.
These pieces of equipment use the kind of augmented reality technology used in the phenomenon that is PokemonGO, and could revolutionise the way that the industry pitches to clients and give them a virtual walkthrough of prospective projects.
Apps and online presence
Technology is helping to keep paperwork in order, and apps such as Safety Meetings can help you to keep track of your business’s safety records. New apps are helping to keep data in order and make it possible to share information between the office and job sites.
Surety agencies are beginning to offer electronic bonding, which is vital as contractor license bonds continue to be an important part of your business. The process is becoming a quick and hassle free alternative to wet ink.
Programmes such as Fieldlens have enabled construction workers to view their plans from anywhere, including on a mobile device. The world of technology is going mobile, so it is only fitting for workers to be able to communicate about drawings, project images and even view weather reports, in real-time on the construction site.
The world of websites, online videos and social media offers a huge number of ways for companies to tell people about what they do and ‘blow their own trumpets’. It is vital for raising awareness about the job and creating brand visibility. Construction companies need appealing, well designed websites with easy to understand language. Social marketing should be a wakeup call to UK construction workers who may be stuck in the past.
The Tiny House Movement was founded in 1997 by Sarah Susanka, and since then more and more people around the world have seen the merit of smaller home footprints. The 300-1000 square-foot homes feature space-saving architectural features to maximise every square foot. In 2014, New Jersey State Senate began considering tiny houses to assist poor and homeless residents.
Now they are putting forward two bills, and Under Lesniak’s bill, the HMFA would raise $5 million and choose three willing municipalities in different regions of the state to participate in the program for three years. The agency would then distribute the awards to applicants for the construction of homes, and establish guidelines and rental assistance to select people to live in them.
On the Road
Technology in construction is also in works, with smarter roads being developed. Dutch firm Jeijmans and designer Daan Rosegaarde are working on a technology called Smart Highway. It’s not just for cars, but cycle paths too, and incorporates glow-in-the-dark lining on road decks using special luminescent paint, electric priority lanes, and interactive lighting.
SolaRoad is working on roads that will generate solar power and absorb sunlight to convert it into electricity. It was tested outside of Amsterdam, and generated about 3000 kWh in the first six months.
If you are feeling enthusiastic now about the future of construction, you are ready to keep your business running smoothly by using technology. By doing this, not only will you see drastic changes in your working life, but there is a high probability your customers will feel satisfied with your productivity and efficiency and that they will stay loyal to your company.
Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2016