Recent innovations in technology have boosted the construction sector in a myriad of ways. New advancements have made projects safer, more efficient and quicker to complete. Although the pandemic has slowed down many construction projects, many exciting initiatives are currently in development thanks to the latest technology.
Let’s take a look at five of the most exciting modern technology innovations for project leaders right now.
Wearables are being used in the construction sector not only to aid productivity but to boost safety standards too. Construction has always been a dangerous sector, with a considerable number of fatalities occurring within the industry each year.
There’s a good chance construction wearables could reduce the number of constriction industry deaths considerably in coming years. Smart boots are being used to prevent collisions with construction vehicles that have had sensors fitted to them. Smart hard hats detect what are branded as “microsleeps” to prevent injuries, whilst power gloves can heighten worker strength to reduce health complaints from excessive exertion. Wearables like smartwatches are protecting workers as they complete tasks alone and ensure individuals can easily be traced if they go missing.
One company making waves in this area is Barcelona-based startup, Engidi. Focussed on improving safety in construction and manual industries via technology, their wearable device can be adapted to multiple types of PPE including helmets, safety vests or belts.
BIM (Building Information Modelling)
With BIM, structures are represented digitally before they are built. There are many big advantages to this. BIM allows the public to see what a building will look like once it is created and also help companies and investors to identify potential problems, minimise risk, work through logistic challenges and make the construction process more efficient. It can be beneficial throughout each construction stage.
Prior to construction getting underway, BIM can be used to identify potential challenges so substantial changes aren’t needed further down the line. When construction is taking place, BIM can boost efficiency and communication so everyone concerned has up-to-date information and imagery to refer to. Even after constriction is complete, BIM ensures each detail of the building is featured in this imagery so all kinds of issues can be addressed.
While BIM is being used on many larger projects worldwide, there are still many smaller developments that could benefit from its implementation. One UK-based company helping support this implementation is BIMBox, who help developers and contractor begin or continue their journey through digital construction.
Drones are being used to cut the expense of various construction processes. Mapping can cost just 5% as much as it normally would when aerial drones are used. Drones can also be used to track the whereabouts of equipment on building sites.
Construction equipment rarely comes cheap whether it’s rented or purchased outright, so being able to locate it at all times is vital. Thieves often strike under the cover of darkness when no staff are around, but drones can be used to monitor sites 24 hours a day. As drone technology improves further and there are more developments in machine learning and AI, drones will likely become even more indispensable.
Sitemark, a Belgian startup, helps remove hassle for project leaders who want to harness the data-capturing and imaging abilities of drones. To date, their work has covered over 40 countries around the world.
3D printing machines are used to make layer-by-layer creations. They work with digital designs just like conventional printers but can provide much more than just flat documents. They can be used to make all kinds of objects and structures, like this building in Dubai which recently became the world's largest 3D printed building.
More and more building materials are being created by 3D printing, and waste is being reduced in the process. It’s hoped that 3D printing will allow big structures to be created much quicker than they have been up until now. 3D printers are also noted for their accuracy, which means costly construction design errors will be avoided.
The rise of 3D printing shows no signs of slowing down, as US-based 3D printer ICON recently announced it had been selected as the builder of America’s first 3D printed homes for sale.
Blockchain technology is heavily associated with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but it also offers a host of benefits for the construction industry. It can be used to record a huge amount of information and therefore make projects more efficient. Each piece of data linked to your construction project can be encrypted by blockchain technology, so all sensitive information can be robustly protected. You can also access your secure project information from anywhere, as it won’t be stored in one single location. Even if you’re working on a particularly large project, you can scale blockchain to this. You won’t need access to a vast data warehouse to benefit from this technology.
It’s thought that blockchain will play a pivotal role in the evolution of the construction industry over the coming years. Blockchain looks set to reshape the way assets and contracts are managed, how materials are purchased and how payments are made. Blockchain can provide vital support before, during and after a project, storing key data long after projects reach completion.
A leader in the introduction of Blockchain to the construction industry is SiteSense. Their technology leverages the blockchain to maintain an activity feed for every construction resource and record document. SiteSense also stores these transactions in a secure, private Blockchain that supports multiple shared stakeholders (or peers) connecting and syncing transactions.
The Future of Construction
The future of construction looks very exciting indeed thanks to recent advancements in technology. Construction has always benefitted from technological advancements, but it may be entering its biggest period of change for decades.
New technology in construction may help us reach whole new levels of worker safety, project planning and procurement. Blockchain, wearables, 3D printing, BIM and drones are just a few of the many things helping construction professionals achieve more than ever. The coming years are likely to be very exciting indeed for the construction industry.
Interested in reading more about the latest ConTech trends? Check out our interview with Ivo van Breukelen; a man at the forefront of innovation in construction and real estate.