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In construction? Technology is completely transforming the industry. Find out which tech advances are going to reap the biggest rewards.
By Daniel Clark, Information Systems Manager: Construction & Mining industries
The fourth industrial revolution is just getting started. A time when technology is almost biological in nature, allowing us to accomplish more than we ever imagined, with less effort. And the news is even better for construction, as the third-most likely industry beneficiary of this new revolution.
We’re already getting just a taste of what’s to come in the future. Here are the top 8 technologies that are ready now and accelerating the construction industry.
1. Specialty apps
Specialty apps have been a boon for the construction industry. Now, site plans, timelines, complex construction calculators, and 3D modeling is all available right there in your pocket. Apps like BIMx Pro allow you to present and share BIM content such as 3D plans with stakeholders in your project, no matter where you are. The Construction Master Pro App gives all the functionality of a traditional Construction Calculator (and more) in your pocket. And for those using AutoCAD, there’s the AutoCAD mobile app. For larger construction businesses, the opportunity to build an internal tailored app specifically for your needs can save resources, improve workflows, improve performance, and even help outshine the competition.
2. Cloud services
Cloud services allow the construction industry to concentrate on projects at hand, rather than having to manage IT products and services. Cloud computing allows people to store, access, and transform data offsite, rather than in-house. An internet connection allows you to do this from anywhere, no running back to the office required. The ability to collaborate whether in the office or onsite, as well as the ability to use cloud tech for management is now essential for those in the construction industry.
3. 3D Printing
3D printing within the construction industry has two distinct areas of application. The first is being able to create scale models of projects or certain elements of projects easily, and the second is actually being able to create components used in construction from a 3D printer. After all, we can now live in 3D printed homes and work in 3D printed offices, like Dubai’s “Office of the Future”. 3D printers can be used to create moulds for reusable components, rather than building specialty equipment or even be used to create individual components themselves, depending on the required material.
4. Autonomous vehicles
Autonomous vehicles are already transforming the mining and construction industry. Rio Tinto has already installed unmanned trucks and trains out in their iron ore ops in the Pilbara. The advantages of autonomous vehicles are three-fold: improved site safety, heightened efficiency, and reduction in FTE. While these sort of vehicles for the time being remain only in reach of uber-wealthy companies, as technology advances costs will reduce, making them affordable for SMEs.
Drones are already being used in construction for site surveys throughout the construction process, from assessing the site before purchase, all the way through to maintenance upkeep. After all, there’s nothing quite like a bird’s eye view of the action to properly bring project scope into (real) perspective.
6. IoT – Internet of Things
Internet-enabled devices are already core pieces of kit for many in the construction industry, and the possibilities are endless. IoT devices range from smart sensors like the ones from Pillar Tech that can monitor things like dust particle levels, smoke, humidity and temperature, to smart parking solutions for building parking lots, like the Libelium-Metiora Smart Parking Sigfox Kit. Anything that can be monitored and sensed with machines can be built with a custom IoT device!
7. Wearables for safety
Worksite safety is always an integral part of any construction project. Construction sites can be a dangerous place without the right processes, kit, and training in place. Not only can they reduce the risk of incidents and accidents, they can also help to improve employee confidence in safety on site. You can check out Redpoint indoor GPS solutions that track workers within the site and can alert employees when they’re entering different safety zones. Or how about the Myo wristband that can be synched to control heavy equipment?
8. AR and VR
The applications of AR and VR, or Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, are going to revolutionise the construction industry, and we’ve already started. Augmented Reality is when you create digital overlays over the natural environment, like Google Glass. Imagine looking through your Daqri smart glasses at the wall that’s just gone up and being shown its composition, height, width, estimated lifespan, or even what the next step for the wall is, rendering, painting or sealing.
Virtual reality is a great way for stakeholders to be able to explore what the site will look like when it’s completed, through a device like the Oculus Rift: taking a stroll down walkways, stairwells, seeing how tall a building will look as if they were standing beneath it…
Bremmar can help construction companies organise their cloud services, IoT networks, and smart devices as an easy to manage, cohesive whole. Ask us for more info about how to put your business ahead of the competition with integrated tech solutions.