Like other industries, the construction landscape constantly evolves due to technological advancements. Emerging building technologies enable contractors to perform various tasks, such as planning their projects better and maintaining a good database of their construction fleet. High-tech tools, such as drones, 3D printing, augmented reality, telematics, and remote control, are transforming the industry in this age. Here is a rundown of the top eleven construction technologies impacting the industry.
- Cloud-based software and mobile applications
Construction businesses often grapple with time management issues. According to a report by Mckinsey and Company, big construction projects usually take about 20% longer to finish than the stipulated deadline, with some projects recording 80% over the budget. Several building firms have started adopting cloud-based software and mobile applications to track their projects and overcome this issue. You can maximize the potential of your construction company by effectively managing your time and avoiding budget overflow challenges using mobile apps and cloud technologies. However, this doesn’t mean quitting your reporting practices. Instead, you can modernize the process by integrating cloud-centered construction software.
Mobile apps can help contractors manage every aspect of their construction tasks, from planning to scheduling and field reporting. On the other hand, cloud-based tools can allow your construction workers to submit their expense reports and time cards from the site. With these, you can increase your reporting accuracy, lower costs, and decrease the use of paper documents.
- 4G and 5G data connection
A good internet connection is key whether on-site, at home, or in your office. Contractors can leverage 4G and 5G internet connectivity to connect their site devices to the web without using fixed broadband infrastructures. A strong and reliable 4G internet connectivity can clock up to 150 megabytes per second. 5G can reach even higher speeds, like 600 Mbps – faster than many fiber broadband connections. 4G and 5G are impacting the construction industry positively, with many now using these to equip their on-site teams with better connectivity for downloading and uploading technical data, fostering email communications, and even making video calls.
- Building information modeling (BIM)
BIM has become a crucial part of modern construction, helping contractors generate breath-taking models of structures, projects, and materials to improve design and construction. Building information modeling is a technique for creating realistic renders of construction activities with the aid of computers. Contractors, architects, and employees can use this technology to simulate real-world events, materials, and scenarios to help them better understand their projects.
Before the introduction of BIM, planning large-scale design projects was complicated. Thankfully, construction companies can now streamline bigger projects with greater complexity, making planning and modeling simpler. Adopting BIM can free up more construction time and reduce overall costs. Autodesk estimates that about 89% of architects will adopt BIM by 2024; structural and civil engineers are also set to follow the trend.
Drones and aerial imaging technologies are among the top impactful technologies taking the building industry by storm. If you have worked in the building sector before, you have probably used or seen teams deploying advanced drones for surveying and planning projects. As the construction industry goes through major transformations, drones are becoming more common by the day: developers and surveyors can employ these devices to get a full picture of lands under development before the planning stage. By gaining a complete view of their proposed projects, construction teams can reduce the time spent on planning while improving the accuracy of their technical drawings. Most construction drones have infrared sensors, cameras, and SONAR/LiDAR technology, so feel free to consider this.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
Construction CRM software allows companies to easily organize customer data with a comprehensive database. Thanks to this tool, you can manage your equipment, site contacts and complete various tasks with little stress. A customer relationship software can automatically alert your team when there is a need to perform critical tasks such as replacing a machine or servicing a piece of equipment. Adopting construction CRM software will allow you to improve your customer experience, boost revenue, and ramp up efficiency.
- Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication
M2M technology allows inter-device communication between machines or equipment on a construction site. One concrete example of machine-to-machine communication is linking a motion sensor to a CCTV camera. When the motion sensor detects any movement, the CCTV system can start recording. Another example is simultaneously operating several huge machines on one project. A vast construction project like Hinkley Point C in Somerset utilizes extensive M2M communication site-wide to optimize its operations.
By monitoring all their operating vehicles (e.g., cranes) and workers’ movement, they can ensure safety and boost productivity on site. M2M often utilizes the same connectivity as IoT (the Internet of Things). Enabling machines to interact with each other enhances automation and reduces staffing costs and man-hours. The world’s construction industry is becoming safer, thanks to the role of M2M in site monitoring and lone-worker protection.
- Construction augmented reality (AR)
Construction AR is fun and useful to workers and clients. For example, you can use this technology to input 3D models of your designs into the actual environment. This means your clients can visualize how their building interior would look from the comfort of their homes. A simple smartphone or tablet can make this a reality. Construction teams can use augmented reality to understand how a building design would function in the existing space. Workers can literally “see through walls” with AR: a smart helmet can enable workers to take the building information model to their site and immerse themselves in it.
One major challenge confronting construction firms is humans moving heavy loads on sites, often exceeding their weight-bearing limits. Conveying loads is even more stressful when manual workers maneuver through tight areas where construction machines may not reach. To solve this ongoing problem, the building industry is working on robotic technology in exoskeletons whose robotic powers permit the handling of bigger loads. Sarcos Robotics has designed a full-body industrial robot named Guardian XO that allows workers to carry weights up to 20 times their lifting capacity. They offer operators safety benefits in hard-to-access construction sites, so keep this in mind. They can maneuver and move things in locations forklifts, and other heavy equipment cannot reach. This way, you can minimize injuries and offer workers more freedom if you implement the right robotics technology in your construction enterprise.
- Remote control
Caterpillar product specialist Andy Masey says it’s still common for construction teams to put operators in hazardous situations. Safety is a major concern for construction teams. Fortunately, remote control technologies make it possible to control certain machines without the physical presence of an operator. This is ideal in dangerous or isolated locations where deploying manual labor isn’t feasible. Remote control tech for the construction industry has been largely based around the mining ecosystem, with experts saying it’s relatively expensive to roll into general applications. However, it is still a possibility as technology constantly evolves.
- GPS tracking
GPS tracking and fleet management are a core part of construction logistics and supply chain control, allowing building companies to effectively supervise their inbound and outgoing deliveries and track inventory around the site. Leveraging GPS tracking solutions can increase vehicle security and improve site productivity. Fleet management applications don’t only track the locations of your vehicles; they also enable you to monitor fuel levels, driving habits, and operating times.
Using this wealth of data on key metrics, contractors can evenly distribute their vehicles and resources, and areas that demand more resources can be served accordingly. With GPS technology, you can track all your assets from a centralized location or office, cut costs on the number of engineers on the road and log your data in a secure web portal. Construction firms may also use fleet management tools to track plant machines such as excavators and forklifts across the site.
- Big Data and AI
Another hot subject in the building space is big data and artificial intelligence. The application of BIM, M2M, IoT, and other technologies means construction firms generate a large volume of data, which needs to be processed by computers. Big data is a huge collection of data that is too massive for regular machines to store and process. Construction enterprises working on large-scale projects use the data generated from multiple data points to help refine their processes. This helps reduce costs and optimize the site’s workflow, so feel free to consider this. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to process big data, improving the overall workflow of a construction project.
The evolution of the building industry’s technology is often associated with heavy machines. However, alongside these innovations are breakthroughs in software technologies. As construction needs shift, manufacturers create amazing new technologies to help companies complete jobs faster, easier, and safer. So far, the software landscape shows the biggest growth in the construction sector. The above top eleven technologies have surely revolutionized the building environment. Therefore, consider investing in them to propel your construction business to greater heights.