Digital technology is not only transforming the world we live in but also the way we build it. From removing risks to offering insight, construction technology can dramatically streamline various processes.
“Construction is one of the last industries to embrace technology,” Jeff Cook, Head of Construction Technology at BuildAI, told Jobsite ANZ. “But just like manufacturing before it, history has shown the uptick in efficiency by using technology.
“I do believe change has to come from the top down. From my experience, ‘at the coalface,’ construction teams are busy delivering and are under pressure to meet deadlines. It takes a strategic mindset and looking at the big picture to take a construction company from manual ways to automation and will need a robust change management plan.”
So, what can we expect to see more of in 2020?
1. Green Technology
Green construction will continue to grow in 2020 as more companies intend to incorporate more sustainable solutions into the construction process.
The construction industry accounts for approximately a fifth of global emissions so constructing green buildings is a no brainer.
Some of the more recent ‘green’ trends gaining traction include carbon scrubbing building facades, bricks made of recycled cigarette butts, thermally driven air conditioners, and asphalt that will heal itself. Scientists across the globe are hard at work developing more eco-friendly materials.
While collecting and analysing data is not a new thing, the tools in use are changing rapidly. Data and data capture could prove to be a key element in the future success of construction companies.
Data can change a business from being reactive to predictive. A data and analytics strategy can fuel the ability to deliver smart buildings, identify and address budget issues, and manage increasing project size and complexity.
Many contractors are overwhelmed with data. Without the proper tools, they are unable to successfully analyse it and make good use of the gathered information.
Cook said, “Construction sites are full of data. Data that can be harnessed and interrogated; predications can be made to help teams deliver efficient outcomes. AI is a great way of harnessing this data and doing the manual grunt work. This then allows engineers to replace reporting and programme tracking with high-value activities.”
Australia has a great opportunity to capitalise on its satellite imagery data through the Digital Earth Australia program. Satellite imagery data used to be available only to big business. As the information is now available through a smartphone, everyone has been granted access to 30 years of satellite images in Australia.
This data can be used to build new products and services for commercial purposes. It can also serve to interpret and analyse changes to Australia’s physical landscape. This creates a wealth of opportunities in land planning, mining, environmental analysis and research.
3. Modular and Prefabrication
There are vast reasons for the growing appeal of modular construction. It offers costs savings as well as a reduction in site waste and noise. The product itself is higher quality, produced with factory precision.
The world’s tallest modular hotel is due to open its doors in New York City next year, with prefabricated and pre-furnished guest rooms. Once erected over a 90-day period, the 360-foot-tall tower will represent a milestone for Marriott’s ongoing initiative that encourages hotel developers to embrace modular for new construction projects.
4. Safety Equipment
Another construction industry trend that will continue into 2020 is the adoption of safety products.
Some advancements include lighter and more effective cooling vests, moisture-wicking fabric, and “smart boots.” The boots connect to Wi-Fi and provide information, including GPS coordinates, about whether the wearer has fallen or is becoming tired. The popularity of specialised robots is also growing; they are used increasingly more often to work in areas that are unsafe for humans.
5. Construction Management Software
In order to take advantage of job site data, you need the right tools. An integrated construction management platform is critical to streamline data analysis and produce results.
Leading construction platforms, such as Procore, are continuously introducing new data analytics tools and business intelligence solutions, providing new possibilities.
The software can break data into specific fields, create customised comparisons, map data, create predictive models and much more. These tools can also streamline data collection from other technologies like wearables and GPS tracking.
And on a Last note
Another cool product to look out for is the Machine Eye, capable of preventing accidents thanks to smart sensors.
The device works by replacing conventional spotlights on machinery with a smart sensor-equipped light which is integrated into the vehicle’s control systems. The system then uses AI to track the machine operator and movements near the vehicle. If an anomaly is detected, for instance, a person is getting too close to a working machine, the system automatically sends an audible warning to alert the operator. If the driver fails to respond, the system overrides the operator and stops the machine.