Building large complex structures is a very expensive and time-consuming undertaking. The construction industry is making great strides due to emerging technologies allowing technical professionals to gather data, automate processes, and build structures with greater precision and speed. From an executive's point of view, it's important to identify the tools that work well with company business practices and offer the most favorable cost-to-benefit ratio. BuildingTech Insider offers an executive's perspective on the innovations in construction that deserve sincere consideration.
Traditionally, the construction industry is slow to adopt new work practices let alone technologies. However, as game-changing construction technologies continue to proliferate the market, I believe we are experiencing an industry disruption. Construction executives need to think about how to keep up with the pace of innovation by fostering an environment that encourages technology experimentation. The following is my current list of innovative practices and technologies transforming construction operations:
- Virtual Design and Construction [VDC]: One of the greatest movements in the AEC industry today is the practice of virtual design and construction (VDC). Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is the management of integrated multi-disciplinary performance models for design and construction. The practice covers the structural (i.e. infrastructure, and/or facility), work sequences, and design and construction team logistics in order to support implicit BIM execution plan objectives. VDC takes a predictive and proactive approach between the office and field activities throughout all project phases. Learn more by reading Innovating the Way We Build with Virtual Design and Construction.
- Augmented Reality (AR): AR continues to refine and enhance the way jobsite teams work. The benefits of this technology are felt throughout design and construction phases. Field teams are using AR to overlay project drawings, models, or images onto a physical space. Computer-generated input allows for visual comparison, real-time collaboration, and onsite problem solving. Simply put, AR enables visualization of design as it relates to physical construction environment. Learn more by reading 7 Reasons Why Augmented Reality is Here to Stay.
- Laser Scanning: 3-D laser scanners create a digital reproduction of the dimensions and positions of objects in a certain space, and then turn that information into a point cloud image. Laser scanning on the job site is useful for gathering reliable data on complex site conditions. The ability to capture so much accurate data about the existing and developing structure and then transfer that information into a working model or, vice versa, into the field, is highly valuable. Optimizing your VDC program with the help of laser scanning gives project teams a solid leg up on productivity. Learn more by reading Solving Project Challenges with Laser Scanning on Job Site.
- Mobile Devices: When field teams can communicate and make document changes via a mobile device and offsite engineers and inspectors can monitor progress in real-time, work is quickly executed and timelines accelerate. Armed with an iPad, workers can access drawings with construction management applications, tag and make a note, and have the ability to send this information via email. Today, field personnel can stay on the move and in the field. Learn more by reading 7 Reasons Why Mobility is Mandatory on An Active Construction Site.
- Wearable Technologies: Wearable technology is being used to enhance or offer added functionalities to the hardhat, safety vest and power tools. A number of these technologies are developed to enhance the everyday gear familiar to the jobsite worker. Devices are hands free allowing workers to transmit images and access important instructions without taking a hand off their machines. Outfitted with cameras, wearables allow real-time assessment of a project to offsite management. Learn more by reading 6 Wearable Technologies for Design and Construction.
- Drones: Drones can outperform humans in number of ways. First, they can fly. Beyond that very obvious fact, drones capture invaluable information for project manager dissemination, allowing for a greater level of oversight. Drones are useful for job site mapping, 3D Modeling, job site logistics, job site progress evaluation, job site safety, and job site security. Learn more by reading From Start to Finish, Drones Are Changing Project Delivery.
- Project Data Gathering and Reporting: Between daily communications, in-office and trailer project management activities, and job-site exchanges, the enormous amount of information is simply mind-boggling. Now consider for a second all the ways we can capture project data: mobile devices, aerial sensory technologies, software logs, cameras, microphones, radio-frequency identification readers, and wireless sensor networks. Sophisticated applications are being used to distill this information into meaningful reporting that can be used to improve future project work practices. Learn more by reading Up Your Construction Game with Big Data.
- Smart Building Systems: Connectivity is a vital part of our daily lives, particularly in structures where we work. As a result, building power loads are increasing, mostly from wireless access points, in-building wireless antennas, Internet Protocol (IP), LED lighting and environmental controllers. The ability to effectively and efficiently power these devices is a growing challenge. Construction practices factor in the critical role of low voltage systems to optimize building performance. Learn more by reading Building for Performance with Low Voltage Systems.
The construction industry is being disrupted and I believe we are still in the very early stages. New technologies will allow pioneers in construction to leverage innovation to radically change the business model for erecting large structures.
How is your firm approaching the impact of emerging construction technologies? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.