Over the past few years there’s been some great advancements in technology being utilised on construction sites. Here’s the Top 10 Technology Trends in Construction for 2019:
1. Augmented Reality
Virtual reality has been an emerging trend over the past few years, however Construction World says it’s quickly growing outdated – especially when compared to the augmented reality uses and benefits.
Augmented Reality is the ability to visualise the real world through a camera lens or mobile phone. It’s an interactive experience of a real-world environment where objects that reside in the real-world are ‘augmented’ by computer-generated perceptual information.
Augmented Reality will come at a high cost and for those companies who can afford to start using it now, it will revolutionise how they project and build things. It’s a trend that will grow much bigger over the next few years.
2. Construction Software and Data Ecosystem
Real-time collaboration software is already regarded as an essential component for building and construction projects. Its impact on the construction industry is expected to increase substantially in the future.
The emergence of a data ecosystem where all the innovative players of the industry will come together and share data, experience and project knowledge is closer than we think. A data ecosystem will give the ability to integrate existing processes and systems into a single fully-connected platform.
The use of digital tools facilitation of information and can help minimise delays, re-work rates and miscommunication between the site, office and other parties involved.
3. Building Information Modelling (BIM)
BIM is becoming one of the hottest construction technology trends. BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering and construction professionals the insight and tools to efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure. BIM will bring more accuracy to the building process and empower the exchange of important information between stakeholders. Its further evolution is anticipated to make construction projects more productive and affordable by including revolutionary sustainability and safety measures.
4. Prefabrication, Modularisation and Eco-friendliness
There’s been a growing trend towards multi-trade prefabrication. An example of multi-trade prefabrication occurred in Dubai where a 3D office building was printed in 17 days, followed by only 2 days on site assembling it. Many construction experts across the globe believe we’ll be seeing more of this practice in the coming years.
Another growing trend is off-site construction – aka modularisation. This trend is similar to that of prefabrication in that many people see it growing in popularity over the next decade. There are many benefits of modular construction some of which include reduced construction costs, reduced construction time on site, greater certainty of completion time and to budget, and reduced wastage in manufacturing and on site.
Both prefabrication and modularisation are quite eco-friendly because when working on construction in a factory you can easily recycle extra materials. This is much better than sending large amounts of waste into landfill.
5. Self-Healing Concrete
Many industry experts believe we’ll start seeing self-healing concrete being used on roads, buildings and homes. In the past, the only way to fix cracked concrete was to patch it, reinforce it, or knock it down and start from scratch. But not anymore. In 2010, a graduate student and chemical engineering professor at the University of Rhode Island created a new type of “smart” concrete that “heals” its own cracks. The concrete mix is embedded with tiny capsules of sodium silicate. When a crack forms, the capsules rupture and release a gel-like healing agent that hardens to fill the void. This is not the only method of self-healing concrete. Other researchers have used bacteria or embedded glass capillaries or polymer microcapsules to achieve similar results. However, the Rhode Island researchers believe their method is the most cost-effective.
Prolonging the life of concrete could have huge environmental benefits. Since concrete is one of the most widely produced and used material in the construction industry many believe than by 2030 we’ll be using about 5 billion metric tons per year. Worldwide concrete production currently accounts for 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Smart concrete would not only make our structures safer, but also cut back on greenhouse gasses.
Drones are being used on a number of construction sites and they allow for project managers to regularly map and model their jobsite, work more efficiently and communicate easier. High-resolution aerial images all you to build a complete, visual record of the site’s progress and can help identify any errors early. Drones can also be used to inspect hard-to-reach or accessible but dangerous locations for example, they can eliminate the need for someone to scale up scaffolding or walk a site on foot.
Robotics is currently an area being explored across all industries. As robotics in construction become more precise and accurate, they’ll change the dynamics of the industry. In the beginning, the cost of robotics will be high, but it will still be worth paying some attention to this technology.
Hadrian X is a bricklaying robot developed Fastbrick Robotics in Australia. In November 2018, Hadrian X built a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home structure in just 3 days. This month Fastbrick Robotics have announced that Hadrian X will be embarking on its first outdoor build.
8. Cloud and Mobile Technology
Mobile devices can leverage cloud technology from anywhere, at any time. There are many advantages to this, including storing almost limitless amounts of information that you can share instantly with the touch of a button.
9. GPS Technology
GPS technology isn’t a new solution, however, it’s now being used in more creative and resourceful ways. Examples include:
- Surveying has been dramatically improved because crews no longer need to use traditional surveying equipment.
- Data for prospective project sites can be quickly and accurately collected.
- Project managers are also using GPS in fleet management. Today, each of their vehicles is equipped with a device that is trackable via both computer and smartphones. This lets everyone know where vehicles always are.
- It’s easier to find lost or stolen equipment because managers can now generate maps that pinpoint the exact location of any of these items.
10. Wearable Technology
While many people may think this is only common sense, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that wearable technology (e.g. Fitbit’s, 3D glasses, Google Glass, armbands that can communicate with coaches on the sidelines) will become an emerging trend that’s useful in keeping workers safe. This will help keep workers from constantly looking down at their instructions because now they can talk to one another via this technology. Additionally, it can help track where workers are if there’s an accident. This is bound to become mandatory at some point in the future.