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How Can Technology Disrupt the Construction Industry?

JS
John Sherman
Nov 12, 2018

Changing and advancing technology has affected multiple industries, especially construction. Instead of relying solely on skills, blueprints, and a few tools to turn raw material into masterpieces, workers have an entirely different resource available.

New technology streamlines processes, making many construction projects quicker, easier, and more accurate. Look at some of the more dramatic changes to technology and how each plays a role in the ever-changing landscape of the construction industry.

BIM

Building Information Modeling or BIM is perhaps one of the most notable of all technologies now used in construction. For virtual building models with extreme precision, this collaborative and drafting software is ideal.

BIM serves yet another purpose. Engineers can store information on the design, construction, and maintenance of different structures, including roads, buildings, tunnels, and bridges.

Overall, the BIM technology helps engineering specialists build complete projects digitally. Similar to a prototype part or component, the model gives builders and architects the opportunity to make changes before actually starting a project.

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to BIM.

For instance, instead of using traditional design sketches and blueprints, builders, contractors, architects, and other people involved with a construction project can use the 3D rendering to see virtually every detail, including walls, doors, windows, appliances, plumbing fixtures, and interior and exterior surfaces.

With everything combined, BIM gives people in the construction industry the opportunity to view a project before it’s physically completed. Using the rendering as a guide, this allows changes for changes to ensure a flawless outcome.

However, there’s one challenge to overcome before the construction industry can fully benefit from BIM. In 2017, the one struggle nearly all construction companies faced was not finding the required BIM training.

Drones

For surveying construction sites, especially those of significant size, drones prove extremely valuable. These unmanned aerial vehicles give builders, designers, and architects a bird’s eye view of projects without hiring a helicopter or airplane pilot.

The price of a pilot’s service exceeds using a drone. With an initial investment of $500 to $1,000 per drone, most construction companies can afford to add at least one aerial vehicle to its arsenal of tools. Even start-up and smaller operations have no problem taking advantage of drones.

Materials

Technology has even changed materials science. As an example, construction workers can now choose self-leveling and self-healing concrete over ordinary material that tends to crack, pit, and flake over time. There’s even permeable concrete, which allows water to drain through it as opposed to pooling.

Although not yet an option, one firm is trying to create engineering living materials. When this concept comes to fruition, it will allow for greener manufacturing processes and biologically sustainable buildings and other structures.

As stated by Justin Gallivan of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), “Imagine that instead of shipping finished materials, we can ship precursors and rapidly grow them on site using local resources.”

3D Printing

Along with creating prosthetics, artwork, musical instruments, and more, 3D printing has become a valuable tool for the construction industry. Some companies claim they can print an entire house in just 24-hours at a cost far below conventional construction.

As 3D printing becomes even more viable, it could have a direct impact on laborers. In their place, companies that adopt this revolutionary technology need skilled designers and software operators.

Without using standard construction materials, 3D printing could cause a significant ripple for companies supplying lumber, brick, rock, gravel, and other building materials.

Accelerated speed, reduced cost, and precision design make 3D printing in the construction industry increasingly attractive, not only to builders but also consumers. Innovators around the globe are trying to change the method of designing and building homes and businesses.

AR

AR, the acronym for Augmented Reality, is beginning to play a more significant role in the construction industry. This technology places images over what is actually in front of the viewer.

Wearing what looks like safety goggles, construction workers in the field can view “blueprints” while on the job, making it easier for them to create perfect structures.

Robotics

When it comes to labor-intensive jobs, nothing surpasses the construction industry. Working with heavy materials, tools, and equipment, people in this industry rely a lot on muscle. With the robotics technology, laborers would receive assistance in handling certain objects and performing various tasks.

Experts agree it will be quite a while before humans and robots actually work as a team. However, when that time comes, robots can take over some of the more laborious work.

Digital Collaboration Tools

There’s a significant volume of paper associated with the construction industry for things like drawings, invoices, meeting notes, contracts, and more. Thanks to technology in the form of digital collaboration tools, the amount of paperwork is decreasing.

Not only do these tools eliminate unnecessary paper, but they also create an easy-to-follow communication and action trail. Using these tools, any authorized individual can view documents and determine who else has seen or changed them.

There’s also a safety factor to consider. In case of a fire, the digitally stored information has full protection.

Training

As technology continues to disrupt the construction industry, it becomes critical for people to have proper training. At GO1, we offer thousands of articles, podcasts, and videos on multiple topics relating to the construction industry.

You and your team can learn about digital document storage, 3D printing, and much more. Prepare your employees for the technological changes already affecting this industry and those on the horizon.

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