Everyone seems to have a 2017 Hot Tech List. I thought it would be great to follow up with on our own take on what will be top-of-mind this year. First, let’s consider the big industry picture, there are A LOT of construction technologies allowing builders to communicate in real time with project stakeholders. Communication is not just through a phone call; it can be through image-sharing, document-sharing or quick text messages via smart phone or tablet. Builders no longer have to wait to report activity at the end of the day or until they have the next team meeting to report updates. There is a tremendous shift taking place.
Photography By Douglas Sterling
The following describes the trends that will continue to transform how we engage, make decisions, and build.
- The Cloud: Let’s face it. Without the Internet, the construction industry would not be facing this kind of transformational change. A majority of built world technologies utilize the Internet as a highway for information transfer. It is the foundation for engagement and forever changing the way we design, build, and manage our projects.
- Mobile Devices: If the cloud is the highway for information transference, then mobile devices are the vehicles for transferring information from one place to another. Multiple job site mobile devices gathering and providing information about one project simultaneously and in real time is tremendously powerful.
- Wearables: Similar to mobile devices, VR/AR Headsets, halo lights, safety glasses, and responsive clothing are just a few of the wearable gadgets undergoing modernization and providing yet another way to gather and transfer information for process improvement that delivers greater results.
- Construction Management Software: The sheer number of management software solutions aiming to increase productivity and maintain project schedules is astounding. These tools are invaluable to construction practices. The ability to engage with project stakeholders, evaluate and manage activity milestones, oversee and monitor budget status, and report on said activities in real time is tremendously powerful. Building Information Modeling bolsters these solutions and allows for enhanced process improvement through prefabrication.
- Mobile Apps: The amount of paper on the job site has significantly reduced. A lot of construction management software solutions have mobile app counterparts. Extended functionality of powerful programs now replaces the demand for paper with the ability to transfer real time data to mobile device applications. Stacks of paper are replaced with tablet device screens jam-packed with technical apps. These apps allow project stakeholders to do all sorts of things - access project plans, create mark-ups, add images, make comments, and transfer information instantaneously. You could say, mobile apps are like the tires on the vehicle enabling technical data transference.
- Drones: Drones are similar to mobile devices with respect to their ability to gather and transfer project information. However, they are different because they operate without being physically attached to a human. Flying over a project site, a drone captures visual project information about a project allowing the operator to monitor job site practices and secure the area in off work hours.
- Laser Scanning: Laser scanning, controlled deflection of laser beams in an existing space is another tremendous job site innovation. Laser scanning captures almost every visible component of a space - every wall, every door, every window, and every nook and cranny is measured in a space. Whatever you can see, the scanner discovers it, measures it, and transfers the information into a virtual model with precision. The information provides a reliable foundation for modeling and can serve as an as-built model for an active or completed project.
- Process Refinement: With each of these enduring trends, job site practices need to be evaluated. The way we build is changing. Core traditional practices are dramatically improved. But how much? There is a need to harness the project data companywide to quantify the results of technology investment.
There is no doubt in my mind, the future is bright and the future is now. Technology is truly changing the construction industry at a pace it has never seen before. Don't just take our word for it, share your thoughts in the comments section and let our readers know what you think!