Technology is reshaping the way people operate across all industries, and the construction industry is no exception. Construction technology comprises innovative software and hardware that reduce human efforts and increase operational efficiencies during the construction phase of a project.
Investments have been pouring into the construction technology Industry for the last few years. For instance, the engineering and construction (E&C) industry attracted an investment of over $25 billion between 2014 and 2019. Considering the increasing usage of technology at job sites, we have compiled a list of innovative technologies in construction management.
3D printing is also called Additive Manufacturing (AM) in the construction industry. It is used to create three-dimensional prototypes and geometrically complex components. 3D printing makes use of the computer-controlling sequential layers of materials to design buildings. The emergence of Building Information Modelling (BIM) helped to facilitate the growth of 3D printing further. The concrete 3D printing market in 2020 is valued at $22.14 million.
A few benefits of 3D printing in the construction industry are:
– Increased safety: According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), around 5,333 workers died in the construction industry of the United States in 2019. 3D printing can reduce human errors and thereby workplace injuries and fatalities.
– Waste reduction: The worldwide construction waste is around $1 billion and it may increase to $2.2 billion by 2025. 3D printing would help reduce the waste if it is paired with methods such as lean construction and prefabrication.
– Saved time: 3D printing can save 60% of the total time on the job site.
3D printing offers great design freedom to architects and will prove to be essential in the future.
According to Allied Market Research, the construction drone industry is projected to grow from $4.8 billion in 2019 to $11.9 billion in 2027. Construction teams use drones to get a holistic view of the job site and assess workplace safety. Drones are also helpful in surveying, geographical mapping, real-time data acquisition, and accurate image capturing at the job site. Drone manufacturing companies are using advanced technologies such as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographical Information System (GIS), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase the efficiency and accuracy of drones.
Modular construction is the process of constructing a building offsite or at a factory setting before being transported and assembled at the final location. As part of the modular construction, several modular units are connected to create a prefabricated house. The number of units required to construct a structure varies by the complexity and size of the finished project. Though the cost of modular construction depends on the quality of material used, case studies indicate significant cost savings with modular construction when compared to traditional construction. A couple of the well-known examples of modular construction across the world are the Star Apartments in Los Angeles and the Furniture House 1 in Yamanashi, Japan.
A few benefits of modular construction are:
– High-quality products: Since factory conditions facilitate improved operating procedures and better monitoring, modular constructions can pull out a high-quality end-product.
– Waste and cost reduction: Modular construction reduces project waste and thereby the cost. According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), modular construction can reduce material usage by 90% when compared to traditional construction.
Construction robots are enhancing the safety of workers at job sites. Construction robots may be classified into factory robots, collaborative robots, and demolition robots.
Factory robots are designed to carry out repetitive tasks with utmost perfection. Collaborative robots are used to carry tools or equipment that would otherwise put a huge burden on workers. A demolition robot is another type of construction robot used to demolish concrete structures at the end of their lifecycle. A demolition robot is a cheaper and safer alternative to human resources.
Countries such as Japan, China, and Germany are using construction robots for various activities, including steel placement, finishing exteriors, and construction of masonry walls.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Construction companies are using technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the quality of decision-making, productivity, and safety at the job site. Artificial intelligence enables construction companies to make informed decisions without human input. Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that makes use of statistical techniques to learn from past data and offer decision-making input.
The applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the construction industry are vast. They act as assistants to construction managers in handling issues. For instance, they scrutinize the data received from various stakeholders and then alert the construction manager on issues that need quick attention. Most companies use artificial intelligence for advanced safety monitoring at job sites.
According to McKinsey, artificial intelligence and machine learning increase the productivity of construction firms by as much as 50% through real-time data analysis and better distribution of resources at the job site.
To eliminate communication issues, construction companies have started adopting industrial-strength communication tools that ensure relevant information is communicated to the right project team members at the right time. A communication tool like Hivot eliminates guesswork at the job site and enables project teams to make informed decisions. Communication tools are also improving the coordination between various departments, including plumbing, design, and electrical at job sites. By offering real-time updates on work progress to all teams involved in the project, an industrial-strength communication tool can reduce project lead times significantly.
A few advantages of communication tools like Hivot to construction companies are:
– Increased visibility of the status of the project to all teams.
– Software integrations that bring time-sensitive project notifications from all trusted applications.
– Increased accountability at job sites.
Building Information Modelling (BIM)
One mandatory technology every construction company uses is Business Information Modelling (BIM). BIM allows designers to create 3D models showcasing the physical and functional characteristics of a building. BIM can map geographical details, manufacturing specifications, customer requirements, and environmental aspects while designing a prototype of a project. BIM not only showcases what a project looks like but also how it acts.
Another vital feature of BIM is that it acts as a collaboration tool between architects, engineers, and contractors. A change made in the BIM by the contractor is instantly sent as a notification to everyone involved in the project, allowing them to collaborate impeccably.
The top benefits of BIM to construction companies are:
– Better coordination and onsite collaboration
– Reduced waste and increased productivity
– Better visualization of an end-product long before the construction work begins.
Technologies help businesses to improve operational efficiency and productivity. For construction companies, technology enhances safety, reduces waste, and improves team collaboration. Construction companies have been using the newest technologies like drones, construction robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning, industrial-strength communication tools, and modular construction to enhance their operational capabilities and reduce costs. Here at Hivot, we believe that this technology will usher in a new era of safer and more efficient construction work.