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In the past, construction industry was characterized as a traditional and one that is resistant to change. However, over the last few decades, accelerations in technology has introduced a tremendous transformation in industry. Coming back to the current times, it can be said that construction industry is under a significant paradigm shift.
Let’s take a look at the top 6 emerging technology trends that could transform the construction process.
Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, are no longer only a hobbyist gadget, they are now emerging as widely used technology construction industry. The drone industry is forecasted to grow to %11 billion by 2021.
When deployed in construction sites, they assist with monitoring and inspection bringing the following advantages:
- Entirely sweep a large project in a matter of few hours gathering the required data rather than collecting the same data in many days or weeks by foot.
- Easily keep a tap on and monitor viewpoints that are normally inaccessible for humans. This enables drones to detect issues that are hidden from human sight.
- Improve safety by gathering information and observation that might expose surveyors to injury.
Drone can even achieve significant cost savings by enabling faster supervision with no need of surveyors. With use of drones, construction and engineering companies can supervise multiple projects simultaneously. UAVs can also help with emergency situations like COVID-19 outbreak by limiting the need for personnel.
Advanced drones can be used for collecting information even during harsh weather conditions saving a lot of time.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR allows a user the ability to visualize the world through a camera lens. Construction industry has started adapting Augmented Reality and is said to revolutionize construction projects in the near future. AR superimposes a computer-generated image and can be fed to VR to replace the real world with the computer-generated image in a simulated environment.
AR systems are capable of displaying key information about the equipment and display warnings for nearby areas at risk. For example, AR lens can detect surfaces that are at high temperature or are electrically charged.
Imagine the power of visualizing the real world with desired elements through a camera lens. A completed project can be overlaid on an empty site or an existing building to enable clients to see the final result even before the project is finished.
Use of sensors to monitor and manage a building effectively in nothing new. However, managing all the data has been a real challenge in construction projects. Internet of Things (IoT) brings connectivity to all types of devices that are used in construction including equipment, tools and even gears work by personnel. IoT generates abundant data that can used for different purposes like:
- Live monitoring for activities to improve efficiency and prevent accidents.
- Tracking the performance of equipment and tools to reveal potential ways for improving overall efficiency.
Connected devices coupled with GPS tracking can benefit greatly especially for monitoring equipment that travel long distance between projects. Project owner can know the exact location of the equipment when equipped with telematics. This enforces efficient fleet management and also prevent theft.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM when used in construction projects, add detail level ranging from broad geometric representation to an accurate building model. BIM uses a software that not only allows project managers to design the buildings in 3D, but also creates several layers of metadata including the MEP layout of the building which can all be rendered in a collaborative workflow with increased accuracy and efficiency.
BIM is one of the most powerful tools for handling and preventing construction waste at the design stage. BIM can detect component clashes so engineers can make better decisions and efficiently optimize the design.
BIM is estimated to be a game-changer for the construction industry with its ability to depict project development in a highly collaborative environment.
Prefabrication & Modular Buildings
Prefabrication is a process where building modules are manufactured in an off-site manufacturing facility and assembled on the building site when required. Prefabrication has several benefits over the traditional construction process like:
- Minimizing overall component and equipment waste since the building modules are created in a controlled factory environment.
- Prefabrication is independent of the outside weather conditions which is one of the biggest hurdles in traditional method with high level of uncertainty.
- Higher quality can be achieved since there are fewer external factors influencing the project during prefabrication.
- Potential to cut the overall timeline by up to 50% as compared to that of traditional construction.
Prefabrication & modular construction is highly recommended for construction in emergency situations like COVID-19 since the workforce can be easily monitored and preventive measures can be carried out with ease.
In competitive markets in New York, prefabrication has additional benefits of financial rewards for completing a real estate project early.
Cloud Services & Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Emerging advanced technologies are characterized by generating a large amount of data that is processed and stored. Cloud services not only helps project managers to store a lot of data, but also makes it accessible at any time while maintaining it in a secure remote location. This data can be accessed by connected devices or by any data analysis platform.
Large data volume produced by multiple connected devices is a lot of work for human analysts and often require Artificial Intelligence (AI) to be processed efficiently. AI retrieves the cloud data and processes it into simple and intuitive metrics that help making effective decisions.
The high exposure of risk and uncertainty can be overcome with the help of AI by shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach in risk management. This in turn helps construction companies reduce project costs while improving safety.