In the past few decades, evolving technology has affected the way in which we, as a society, both interpret information and interact with one another. Every facet of industry has faced huge changes. In many cases what’s now possible with tech, has surpassed the predictions of elaborate works of Sci-Fi. Think of Orwell’s 1984 compared to real-life, modern-day surveillance as revealed by Edward Snowden, or even how an iPhone improves upon many of the functions of a Star Trek communicator. Now if only we could nail that transporter tech – commutes would be a whole lot easier. But what do these shifts mean for the world of Construction? Below are a few of the trends that are reshaping the way we build.
These are no longer just military death machines, the expensive playthings of a man-child, or how an overenthusiastic photographer gets unflattering aerial shots of wedding revelers. No. In fact, drones are being used across the industry to monitor and understand projects as they unfold - ultimately keeping them on track. These drones can be equipped with cameras, GPS trackers, heat sensors, and even laser scanners. They can go into areas that would be too expensive or dangerous for a human to go and create 2D and 3D maps of a project.
Picture a 'Smart Site', where every item of machinery or tool could be, in theory, connected to the internet, both recording data and talking to one another. You would have component sensors installed to monitor operating conditions or performance levels – but across absolutely everything. And I mean everything. This could refer to all items onsite, from a construction worker's vehicle, to their safety equipment, right down to their glasses. They would transfer data on location. While this helpful for improving safety and productivity, it would not be so fantastic if anything got hacked.
Yes, it’s certainly handy to be able to scan through your emails, but a truly cohesive series of apps on mobile devices can save time and money. This means strengthening communication procedures between staff and management but also making important data easier to access for everyone on the project. Any issues can be tracked and documented quickly with all information being updated in real-time. The bigger the site, the more issues this will solve in the long run.
As it stands today, you can 3D print with materials such as plastic, metal, ceramics and even glass; massive items such as multi-storey buildings or even whole bridges have been 3D printed with great success. It’s possible now to buy yourself a 3D printed house, with companies popping up delivering these across the globe. However, while it’s relatively easy and cost-effective to make components, molds, and smaller items, the technology is not advanced enough, nor is it fiscally viable yet, to make the switch to 3D printing completely.
Imagine you could walk around your building before it’s even completed and spot any potential issues before you break ground? Virtual Reality Architecture and engineering professionals use BIM models as representations of what the structure should be, after construction. Comparing the physical work to the model is perfect for staying on task and catching issues early. Plus, going on a virtual tour of your completed structure definitely beats eyeing up a scale model.