The world is rapidly digitalizing that even the notoriously named “brick and mortar industry” is reshaping itself. The digitalization of the construction industry has been a growing trend for a decade now. The covid-19 pandemic played a massive role in the adoption of the latest technologies in the construction industry. Studies reveal that the construction industry has undergone fast-paced digitalization in one year (during this pandemic), which was otherwise expected in three years.
With the acceleration of digital drive, construction companies are diving into the digital realm, albeit hesitantly. The change is gradual, but for sure, the revolution is underway. Construction companies are exploring emerging opportunities by setting up innovation labs. The proof of concept explorations (POC) remains at their heart. Zarea.pk is back with its insightful information! In this article, you will find out about the latest tech trends in the construction industry.
Below is a list of top tech trends in the construction industry:
Collaborative Software Solutions
The pandemic situation during the past year made data sharing in real-time an absolute necessity, especially one half of the workforce had to work remotely. There was already a growing demand for construction-industry-specific collaborative software. However, things escalated quickly during the pandemic.
Given the fast-paced nature of the construction industry, essential decisions ought to be made quickly. When it comes to decision-making, efficient communication is the key. Stakeholders, contractors, architects, suppliers, and building inspectors need to be on the same page. Timely communication can save hefty costs and the time-consuming hassle of reworks. Collaborative software solutions provide a platform for sharing and updating data among multiple users in real-time.
Collaborative software solutions bridge the communication gap and provide a seamless aisle for the completion of projects promptly. Using collaborative software solutions is the most significant tech trend of the construction industry in 2021. It is here to stay.
Building information modeling
Building information modeling or BMI is making designing and planning construction projects convenient than ever before. BMI enables the user to digitally present the physical and functional aspects of the building structure. It makes collaborative tasks easier, just like collaborative software solutions do. BMI is also suitable to use for estimation, prefabrication, planning, takeoff, and scheduling. It also allows clash detection. All of these features streamline the tasks of a contractor. It helps the contractor to conceptualize the design intent of the project by creating 3D models. At the same time, it enables estimators to make accurate estimates and precise takeoffs.
The usage of 5D modeling generates accurate quantities of construction materials and other components of the project. One of the most significant advantages of using BMI is that it can cut down costs up to 6%. It offers automatic clash detection, which presets during the design phase or once the construction begins. It allows sustainability and operations maintenance with the usage of 6D and 7D, respectively.
With real-time changes and updates, instant communication through BMI paves the way for the most updated information to have in place. You cannot only simulate the construction schedule with 4D. Still, you can also visually present the ongoing process and developments of the project for planning out better.
The next on our list is digital twin technology. Before further elaboration, it is essential to note that BMI technology is a bedrock technology. It is foundational to various other technologies such as digital twins, scheduling, and artificial intelligence. All of this construction-specific tech is powered by BMI.
Moving back to our point, Digital twin technology is all about the convergence of the digital and physical world. A digital twin is used for creating virtual models of buildings. It enables simulation and allows predictive analysis. It uses sensors, IoT, or drones to gather data on a building that is either completed or under construction. The gathered data is then processed with the AI software (which also allows historical recalls). With the incorporation of advanced analytics and machine learning, a virtual model of the building is created. The plus point of this technology is that it continues to learn from the physical building.
Creating “data-rich-as-built” this technology dramatically improves project scheduling. The scope of the technology is far beyond construction. It can also be used for building operation systems once the construction is completed. It can be used to evaluate energy demand, carbon emission, and indoor environmental quality. The best part is, it notifies the user about maintenance malfunctions.
The application of artificial intelligence is similar to BMI. Artificial intelligence is used in conjunction with other technologies like laser scanners, wearables, and sensors. It is used for gathering information, learning, and help in making intelligent decisions. Artificial intelligence enables machine learning. It allows computers and machines to imitate human intelligence.
Machine learning is the subset of artificial intelligence. It uses algorithms to learn from data and for the identification of patterns. One of the most significant advantages of AI technology is that it doesn’t require programming for decision-making. AI technology can work wonders for data-driven construction projects. This technology will utilize the available data for machine learning and future predictions of the outcomes. AI technology helps to mitigate risks in construction projects. Aiding in scheduling helps to boost overall productivity. However, some of the biggest challenges of AI are data collection, organization, and structuring.
The scope of AI technology is vast. It allows the user to monitor the construction workers and identify safety hazards in real-time. In case of missing PPE or some other safety hazard, AI alerts the worker or safety manager via smartphone or a wearable device. AI technology is pivotal for self-operating and autonomous construction equipment. AI can simulate construction projects multiple times in just a matter of a few minutes. It makes required adjustments and delivers an ideal schedule, maximizing productivity while at the same time being time-efficient and cost-efficient.
In short, AI is ideal for risk assessment, design optimization, forecasting, and predictive logistics. AI has many upsides which will gradually make construction sites more efficient and safe.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Both AR and VR are emerging technologies. In the construction industry, the development and adaptation of AR and VR are on the rise. VR allows immersive visualization, which in conjunction with BMI highly improves design, communication, and collaboration. With the use of VR, architects can conveniently showcase their designs to clients.
By creating virtual environments, change orders can be reduced, and clash detection can begin before construction projects commence. VR can also enhance the learning and training of construction workers. It can be used for all sorts of construction-related training such as safety training, building systems installation training, and operator training. The controlled environment created through VR allows the workers to learn and gain exposure to different scenarios while ensuring the worker’s safety.
On the other hand, augmented reality, or AR, is the convergence of the digital and physical world. It overlays digital objects in a physical environment. Vision-based AR using markers such as QR codes, GPS, architectural drawings and images, safety checklists, overlays of BMI models, and installation guidelines has a wide application in the construction industry. However, it is essential to note that AR in the construction industry is still in its infancy.
Robots and Drones
In the construction industry, the application of drones and robots is highly impactful as it sets forth the automation of construction work. It is speculated that robots will perform labor-intensive tasks such as brick-layering, tying rebar, and installation of drywall in the near future. Contrary to popular belief, robots will not replace the human workforce entirely. Instead, robots will augment the productivity of tasks while minimizing the safety risks for human counterparts.
Similarly, drones are used on construction sites for survey and inspection of the building structure. Drones cannot only quickly monitor the development of the project but can also identify potential hazards. Drones can also be used to monitor workers. Combined with cameras, scanners, and other data collection devices, drones can work well with AI-powered applications and improve efficiency significantly.
The most significant advantage of drones is that it allows the user to perform all these tasks remotely. This is a plus point, especially in the ongoing situation of a pandemic. The adoption of this technology will continue to increase in the years to come.
Blockchain improves the functionality of the construction supply chain by making it more efficient and visible. This public database is ideal for record-keeping. Each transaction is stored in a virtual box that is connected to a chain. The chain is what creates the history of entire transitions within a particular network. This technology also enables encryption and protection of all the critical elements associated with construction’s supply chain and operations.
Potentially, it can manage the contractual relationships through electronic verification and smart contracts. Distributed ledgers powered with blockchain technology can ensure more accountability and transparency in construction projects. It also addresses scope creeps, contraction change, and waste elimination for cost reduction.
3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. It is used to create a three-dimensional object from a digital source. In the construction industry, particularly in the polymer, ceramics, metal, and concrete sectors, it has enormous scope due to its feasibility. It can not only be utilized for a variety of materials but also allows seamless designing.
3D printing is cost-efficient and time-efficient as it fabricates complex shapes without many constraints for architects. This technology is still emerging with more possibilities such as printing pipes, fittings, tools, panel walls, formwork for concrete, embedded plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, and solar tiles, etc.
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