Seventy-Six percent of engineering and construction executives indicated that they plan to invest in digital technology this year, according to Deloitte’s 2021 engineering and construction industry outlook. The latest construction technologies are helping construction business owners facilitate digital transformations and stay ahead of the competition by increasing collaboration, lowering costs, and delivering better projects.
There are indeed practical applications and benefits to modernizing your technology. To maintain a competitive edge, you must find ways of integrating new strategies. State-of-the-art technologies are drastically changing how the industry now operates.
Types of Construction Technology Impacting the Industry:
- Data Collection Apps
- Building Information Modeling (BIM) Software
- Virtual Reality and Wearables
- 3D Printing
- Artificial Intelligence
- Prefabrication Shop Software
Data Collection Apps:
Field construction apps are becoming more of the norm today. The increased use of tablets and smartphones allows for more excellent communication and the ability to work from anywhere. More specifically, data collection apps are helping construction companies gather faster, more accurate, and higher quality data from the job site. Integrating this type of technology into your current processes is simple and requires a smaller upfront investment while still providing significant benefits, including:
- Significant time savings & reduced data entry errors. Data collection app users have reported more than 20 field and administrative hours saved each week and a 50 percent reduction in data entry errors. Helpful tip: Estimate your ROI potential by using our free online calculator.
- Enhanced workflows. You can automate data collection workflows, so the submission of one form triggers another form to be sent, and so on until a particular task is completed with all necessary sign-offs and collected data. Additionally, some data collection applications offer mobile and web forms apps so your team can submit forms on their smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops – basically any digital device.
- Improved safety compliance. Data collection apps can facilitate everything from daily equipment inspections to near-miss reporting to a comprehensive job safety analysis.
- Instant reporting. Whether you need daily job reports, quick turn-around on client deliverables, or fast access to legal documentation, a data collection app will help you streamline reporting. You can also easily customize reports based on your business needs.
The use of drones is an emerging construction technology in conducting site surveys faster and more accurately than a work crew. Drones are also less expensive than aerial imaging. Their high-resolution cameras and the data collected can create interactive 3D or topographical maps and models and take volume measurements. Another benefit of using drones is the ability to inspect hard-to-reach places such as bridges or tall buildings, and to do it safely. You can also use them to monitor progress on a job site and see how people work.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) Software:
BIM provides space for better collaboration because each person and expertise areas can add their piece to the same model instead of breaking out onto multiple versions of a 2D paper drawing. The model evolves as individuals contribute, streamlining the process and increasing efficiency. BIM also assists with problem-solving in the design and planning stages of project by automating clash detection and providing a complete picture of the project. We’re seeing more and more global government initiatives to make BIM a compulsory procedure for large-scale facilities projects, including in India, Hong Kong, France, South Korea, Germany, and Italy. In the United Kingdom, BIM is already mandatory for government construction projects. According to Research and Market’s 2021 Building Information Modeling Market Report, emerging trends that will directly impact the industry include AI development in BIM, increased demand for BIM-based cloud collaboration, and modular construction and prefabrication.
Virtual Reality and Wearables:
Virtual reality technology is often used in conjunction with BIM to help better understand complex projects. Please think of the potential: you can create a building design with BIM and use VR to walk around it. This will give your team, or the client, an even more realistic idea of what the project will look like once completed. Fully understanding a project from the start allows you to avoid significant changes and expensive change orders mid-way through. Wearables are a construction technology that are not only making a positive impact on safety but also productivity. AsphaltPro published a recent article on the topic, reporting that wearable technology in the construction industry can increase productivity by 8.5 percent and workplace satisfaction by 3.5 percent. The article also highlighted some unique products on the market, including XOEye Smart Glasses, Spot-r Wearable Sensor, and Redpoint Positioning Safety Vest Sensors.
3D printing as a construction technology has the potential to change material sourcing. For prefabrication, materials for a project can be printed and then transported to the job site, ready for use immediately. This allows you to get materials faster and streamline the process by removing extra steps in the middle.
3D printing makes it possible to print materials right on site, reducing waste and saving transportation and storage costs. However, one of the current challenges with adopting this technology is mass production limitations. Although some 3D printers can produce on a larger scale, they are expensive.
For years, artificial intelligence (AI) has provided benefits to construction projects through increased safety, improving workflows, and get jobs done faster and better. However, many construction companies continue navigating and learning how to apply this complex technology within their organization best. Some larger firms have built their own AI programs to help with internal decision-making processes and operations. At the same time, others are relying on third parties, such as AI advisors and solutions providers, to audit their current practices and identify opportunities for AI and machine learning implementation.
Prefabrication Shop Software:
Prefabrication Shop Software allows one to fabricate or assemble construction components before arrival on a job site. It requires pre-planning to determine best solutions, which improves worksite productivity and return on investment (ROI).
Investing in the latest construction technologies is undoubtedly an intelligent business move. The key is finding the tech tools to help you reach your company’s goals. As we mentioned, onboarding a data collection app is an excellent place to start your digital transformation. It’s a reasonably small upfront cost with tremendous ROI potential.
Article Written by: Conor O’Brien