The construction industry is regarded as one of the industries that adopted technology late. The industry has, however, seen emerging trends and there seems to be no limit to the number of technological tools springing up every time. These tools have put construction experts on their toes to keep up with the continuing evolution in the industry and make the construction process very easy and less cumbersome.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic had a great impact on hastening tech adoption in the industry in 2020, findings reveal that the rate of tech adoption in the year is the same as what would have occurred in a three-year span.
With the hope offered by the high rate at which COVID-19 vaccinations are being administered in several countries and the projection that we would reach herd immunity at some point, the construction industry would soon be preparing for economic recovery that would increase the demand for construction activities.
Increase in demand for construction activities will translate to the use of a younger workforce for greater adoption of technology in 2021 which will improve productivity, eliminate inefficiencies, and lead to higher quality. There will surely be more emphasis and focus on quality and safety. It is, therefore, imperative to consider and analyse some of the technology trends likely to be adopted by construction experts this year.
Construction Management Software
Construction management software helps construction companies and personnel to be more competitive and master operational efficiency.
The numerous software available come with diverse features and functions. They create opportunity for workers to tackle end-to-end needs, compile data and share files with mobile teams. Other functions and features offered by these software include easy budgeting, document storage, payroll, and HR, monitoring inventory and project management. The key to maximizing construction management software is to choose the best that suits one’s needs. This can be done by their usability and integration with other software. Their customization options, upgrades, additional features as well as availability of support and training can also be considered before making a choice. Some of the software that may be adopted in the industry are:
Quick Base; and
More Adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Building Information Modeling is an advanced software modeling which offers immense benefits to the architecture and construction industry. It has changed the way architects and construction engineers approach building design as it provides powerful tools that enhance creation of dynamic design and streamlined structures that stand the test of time.
BIM improves collaboration and creates efficiency in workflow. It creates opportunity for architects, structural engineers and builders to access information in the format that they need without having to create different models. This means that the edits made in one format are automatically propagated throughout the system, removing the need to update different drafts as plans progress. Approaching design through database storage further removes the need to manually produce most other end-product design documents such as schedules, colour filled diagrams, drawings and 3D models.
3D visuals generated via BIM provide clarity on the product to various stakeholders, thus providing them sufficient visibility of the practical challenges. It enables you to design plans and then present them for review by clients or others without specialised architectural training and without extra planning.
BIM enables a user to observe the model in a seventh dimension called the life-cycle facility management view. This display shows expected operational costs for the building once it’s completed. With this, the user can make wise design decisions that will lead to greater cost savings and simpler building maintenance for you in the future.
BIM allows users to resolve coordination issues. It produces a near ‘zero-defect’ design and predicts the material required more accurately, leading to reduced wastage on site during the construction and maintenance processes.
Robotics and Drones
A big impact is being created on safety and productivity with the automation of construction tasks with drones and robotics. This means that construction robots will be used to complete simple, repetitive, and labor-intensive tasks like laying bricks, tying rebar, and installing drywall in future. This, however, does not mean that robots will replace humans. They will only aid and augment workers’ performance, enabling them to be more productive, and possible extend their careers by reducing the wear and tear on their bodies that occurs over years of employment.
Construction drones are also used to inspect structures in order to make construction sites safer. They are used to conduct jobsite inspections, monitor progress on projects, and identify potential hazards each day. They can also be used to monitor workers throughout the day to ensure everyone is working safely.
As drone technology continues to evolve rapidly in its accuracy and precision of its readings, even less human involvement will be required.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence is a technology that can be used with other technology like BIM, sensors, and laser scanners to gather the information it will use to learn and make decisions. AI focuses on technology that enables computers and machines to mimic human intelligence.
All the data collected in construction over the years on projects can be used to improve machine learning and predict future outcomes on projects, aid in schedule, mitigate risk, and improve productivity. AI is used to monitor workers and identify safety hazards or missing PPE and immediately alert the worker and safety manager via their smartphone or a wearable device to correct the hazard before an accident occurs.
AI can also be used in project planning and scheduling, simulating the projects millions of times in a matter of minutes and making small adjustments each time to deliver the ideal schedule to maximize efficiency and productivity to reduce timelines and save money.
Greater Modularisation, Prefabrication, and Sustainability
Modularisation and Prefabrication are very popular trends. This is because they are energy efficient and cost-effective. These features have been favoured lately as a result of the continuous rise in the costs of building materials. Many construction companies, who have the desire to cut cost, have been projected to also embrace modular and prefabricated construction. These trends create effective hot melt adhesives and the overall ease of design which make home building process quite easy. This means that many permanent modular and prefabricated buildings will spring up in the near future.
As regard sustainability, the construction industry has embraced green technology as many homeowners, buyers, renters, and commercial tenants are now using it has standard. Green technology aims to lower a building’s carbon footprint and the use of resources and building models to reduce the use of resources, as buildings are reportedly responsible for 40 percent of energy consumption and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
There is a gleam of hope for the construction industry in 2021 after the shadow of darkness created by the pandemic in 2020. There will be an unprecedented adoption of advanced construction technology as technology is the potent tool against lack of productivity and quality, inefficiency, and concerns about safety and longevity.
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