New Trends in Construction Technology
All industries are embracing innovation, and construction is no exception. So, what is new in construction technology? For construction management emerging trends and technologies, options range from site planning software to clothing to make workers safer on the job site.
The future of construction looks to be even more productive, safer and more precise than ever. You can see the development of future solutions in recent trends in construction technology that create the foundation for tomorrow’s equipment.
Future Trends in Construction Technology
The future of construction equipment technology trends will include ways to integrate smarter equipment and sensors to vehicles, site computers, personal protective equipment (PPE) and more. These equipment solutions will improve the current processes of construction to reduce wasted time and improve efficiency.
1. Digital Construction Twins
Digital twins are computer-based replicas of buildings under construction. However, unlike three-dimensional models of the completed project used for reference, digital twins are built in the computer simultaneously as their real-life equivalents. The double of the physical building can help teams make construction changes before they cause issues with the long-term integrity of the building.
To achieve creation of digital twins, construction sites must use several forms of technology. The software comes from building information modeling (BIM). Plus, the information used to create the digital twin accurately comes from high-tech sensors and drones. Predictive analysis in the system takes the information to generate the digital twin that precisely matches the physical version in all aspects.
Even after construction ends, the use of the digital twins does not. With existing digital twins of buildings, owners can get insights into the emissions and efficiency of the structure. Plus, the software can predict when the building will require maintenance based on the data from its digital twin. This new technology in the construction industry provides for the longevity of the project by improving the structure during building and into its future occupation.
2. Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are useful for more than video games. These new trends in construction technology bring computer plans of sites to life. First, you should understand the subtle differences between AR and VR to embrace how these tools can benefit construction.
Augmented Reality in Construction
AR uses a viewer with a camera attached, such as a smartphone or a tablet, to overlay an image onto the view of the site through the camera lens. A site manager can use AR to view the plans of the finished project overlaid onto the site during construction to ensure alignment and positioning of the existing work with what needs to be built.
AR systems can also help those working at the job site to become more aware in real time of existing dangers. An AR view can show the location of electrified areas or other hazards that may change too quickly to allow for sign installation.
Virtual Reality in Construction
Virtual reality puts the digital overlay into a digitally generated background. This type of setup works well for training vehicle operators to respond to a variety of situations that standard training may not subject them to. In a VR training, an operator can practice responding to emergencies and unusual scenarios to prepare them for rare events. Virtual reality can also allow for walkthroughs of site plans before construction begins. This technology can integrate with BIM to see work in progress and compare it to the existing construction.
3. Multi-Dimensional Building Information Modeling
An exciting technological advancement in construction industry processes is the use of building information modeling. This system is more than just a three-dimensional depiction of the construction — it is the key behind making digital twins possible.
BIM provides valuable information that can improve accuracy of estimations and show possible construction problems before work begins. Resolving the problems before groundbreaking can reduce the time wasted during construction and improve project efficiency.
While initially, BIM only included three-dimensional creations of buildings, future uses include many other ways of integrating it into construction work. By adding scheduling to the information from BIM, you create a four-dimensional building model. Incorporating material and work costs to improve estimations brings the BIM to five dimensions of use.
Checking for sustainability of the construction and future predictive maintenance scheduling adds six and seven dimensions to this tool. The more dimensions added, the more useful BIM becomes in reducing the time required for projects, understanding project scopes and improving productivity.
Currently, 76% of construction company executives plan on investing in digital construction technology trends, of which BIM is a vital one that can assist in digital twin creation, predictive maintenance and other solutions.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) works in a similar manner to BIM and digital twins. All three rely on data collection for the program to use. What sets AI apart is how it uses that information. Unlike other software solutions that can only analyze data and require people to use it, AI can make predictions and decisions based on the information it collects.
One way this technology currently has an application is for scheduling projects based on similar past work. This application reduces wasted time and ensures the project gets done, even allowing for possible weather or similar delays.
Additionally, AI can monitor site images to find workers acting unsafely or failing to properly use PPE. The system can then take measures to correct the problem by alerting the worker on a phone, tablet or other method. Workers can stay safer on the job and avoid time-consuming incidents through the helpful reminders from the AI system.
Modeling equipment use and predicting when to conduct maintenance before breakdowns is another use of AI to benefit construction sites. With predictive maintenance, you avoid unnecessary preventative maintenance and unpredictable work stoppages from broken-down equipment.
Making computer-guided predictions based on accurate data offers the construction industry several new tools for the future.
5. Monitoring Wearables
AI does not always have to text employees. With worker-monitoring wearables, workers could have the AI contact them through their safety vests or other PPE. However, warning workers of unsafe conditions is not the only use for these wearables.
Data is key to construction technology trends in the future. For safety, information is also crucial. In the future, you will likely see PPE equipped with GPS trackers, temperature monitoring devices, voltage detectors, Wi-Fi and other sensors.
With GPS trackers, you will always know where all workers are all the time. Therefore, if an emergency arises, evacuating an area and knowing where people are is easier. Plus, you will know that employees are spending time in their appropriate work areas.
Knowing the locations of workers is only one aspect of biometric PPE. Sensors can determine whether workers are experiencing dangerous conditions or are involved in an accident. For instance, voltage detectors can warn workers of nearby electrical hazards. Temperature and biometric sensors keep track of heart rate, breathing, body temperature and other vital signs. This data can alert workers if they are in danger of heat illness or overexertion and need to take a break.
In some instances, workers may not be able to respond. If a worker experiences an accident, wearables can alert onsite supervisors, give the worker’s location and keep track of their health during the rescue.
Wearables may also provide important information for reducing overuse injuries. Data collected from PPE could inform workers whether they use poor posture at work or repetitive motions, both of which could cause soreness or injury. By becoming aware of these issues, workers can make changes to reduce their chances of injury, which could take them from their work or make them less productive.
6. Robotics and Drones in Construction
When it comes to construction, robotics and drones are not yet mainstream, but many in the industry have plans to invest in them. To improve productivity and site efficiency, 24% of construction companies are investing in these technologies.
Drones gather site images vital to creating digital twins. These overhead devices can also collect information for site surveying when they have lasers equipped for taking measurements. Cameras on drones can capture images used in real time by AIs to identify issues with worker safety and send alerts to correct the problems. Plus, drones can help during inspections that would otherwise require people to access dangerous locations, such as high on building exteriors.
Robots can help close the gap in labor many construction firms have experienced since 2017. Since then, job positions filled increased by less than 10%, while vacancies almost doubled. To mitigate the labor shortages of today and the future, robots can help. They reduce worker overuse injuries by taking over labor-intensive, repetitive tasks, such as bricklaying or putting in drywall. Human workers will still be vital assets to the job sites, though, to offer setup and supervision for their mechanical helpers.
7. Off-Site Construction Advances in the Construction Industry
Faster construction may begin off-site in the future. Some current projects have made headlines due to their innovative methods of using prefabricated components to quickly create structures.
For instance, one fast-food restaurant used an off-site modular construction for one of its buildings to set up the structure in almost half the time of a standard build – 12 weeks compared to 23 weeks. This type of construction reduces project turnaround time and limits disturbances of nearby occupants.
With off-site construction, the controlled environment of the process prevents delays from weather or other incidents on site. Options include modular building and prefabricated building:
- Modular building: This method creates entire rooms or portions of a building with finishes and fixtures installed, which fit together like puzzle pieces on the job site.
- Prefabricated building: This method creates parts of the structure off-site and requires workers to piece them together on location.
Both types of construction speed up the project by allowing for work on the building during site preparation. Additionally, modular and prefabricated off-site construction both require fewer workers at the building location, helping protect against labor shortages problems that may occur in the future.
8. 3D Printing
Components of construction in the future may come from a three-dimensional printer. These printers use additive technology, so called because they add material to create the needed shape instead of cutting material from a larger piece.
Currently, the technology remains cost-prohibitive for many. But as the price of 3D printers and materials decreases, it may become a way of quickly accessing parts on a job site. Future construction sites equipped with these printers can quickly print replacement parts or customized tools using ceramics, concrete, metal or polymers. Construction projects can happen more quickly with the ability to print off components as needed.
Supply issues will not vanish. To avoid shortages, better tracking through blockchain may become the next future innovation in the industry. This technology can trace the origins of supplies used for construction from their raw material state to their final positions on the site.
Blockchain is like a list that multiple people contribute to by adding individual virtual blocks. However, no one can alter the other blocks in the chain. This blockchain technology makes tracking products secure and verifiable. For instances of product recalls or when owners want more transparency in the sources of the supplies used in their buildings, blockchain technology allows that.
What Is the Latest Technology in Construction?
While many of the emerging trends in construction technology remain in the development stages, you can still access future-thinking solutions for your job site today. Thanks to software integration and other improvements, equipment that bridges the past and future can become part of your operations.
You won’t just get into a trend when you invest in new construction technology. You also access ways of increasing precision, safety and efficiency at your site. Some of the currently available technologies include:
1. Site Positioning Innovations
Site positioning systems today go beyond making manual calculations for construction. With new technology used in construction site positioning, you can improve precision on the site and save time.
Site positioning equipment today includes controllers, receivers, antennas, correction sources and software. These tools tap into Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). To improve the accuracy of the GPS, GNSS correction sources integrated into equipment ensure the continued accuracy of the location information over time.
Whether for staking out a site, grading or taking site measurements, today’s site positioning equipment eliminates the time and added cost of hiring surveyors for your site. Plus, you attain improved accuracy — essential for avoiding setbacks or delays in construction due to measurement errors.
2. Intelligent Compaction and Paving Control
Intelligent systems can help your worksite cut operating costs while improving productivity. For instance, intelligent compaction systems and solutions for paving control reduce overcutting, improve surface uniformity, allow for tighter tolerances, reduce project times and lower fuel costs.
This category of innovation includes methods for avoiding costly mistakes such as overcutting with milling machines. Plus, pavers stay better aligned, to within 0.01 feet, for even more precise tolerances. Like pavers, you can get more uniform surfaces when compacting asphalt. Due to the use of intelligent systems, you can reduce the need for multiple passes to achieve the necessary surface compaction. By improving accuracy in paving and compaction, this innovation creates an investment in your job site’s productivity, cutting excessive costs over time.
Laser construction products grasp forward-looking technology for use in seemingly mundane tasks to improve efficiency and accuracy. These tools often incorporate with other technologies to improve your site’s productivity:
- Interior lasers can capture three-dimensional images of objects to transfer to software for site planning. This data can assist in creating digital twins or verifying construction specs to ensure accuracy. Lasers can also provide precise measurements for interior construction, reducing measurement errors caused by manual data collection.
- Pipe lasers hasten the speed at which your teams can lay pipes. By integrating user-friendly pipe lasers into your operation, you can improve accuracy and cut the time needed for laying out storm drain lines, water pipes, gas lines, sewers and other utilities.
- Construction lasers can improve grading and leveling for all forms of general building jobs. With laser-guided technology, you never need to second-guess the accuracy of the data used on your site.
By providing accurate data for leveling, measuring and more, lasers offer a good entry point for those who want to begin integrating high-tech solutions at their construction sites.
4. Grade Control Solutions
The land under your construction project is a vital foundation for supporting the building. Therefore, when grading, you need to be accurate and have the best solutions possible. One of the current construction industry technology trends is software to improve grading, such as Trimble Earthworks.
Three variations of this software for dozers, graders and excavators connect equipment to site sensors and more to create an integrated network that optimizes work:
- Dozers: Dozers can grade complex sites using fewer passes when equipped with grade control solutions that mount in the cab rather than on the blade.
- Graders: Graders take advantage of the three-dimensional data collected from nearby to give the operator the greatest amount of information needed to create smooth surfaces without unnecessary passes.
- Excavators: When used with excavators, Earthworks automates the operation of the bucket and boom while permitting manual control of the stick by the operator. This blends the best of human judgment with time-saving automation.
5. Software Solutions
Software solutions bring digital information into a useable format for access to necessary data from anywhere on the job site. The many software options will allow you to use existing and future technology on your construction site.
For instance, the Trimble Stratus collects and makes sense of the data collected by site drones. Currently, many sites use this information for accurate measurements and to improve decision-making in real time. For future construction technology trends that require drones for data gathering, such as BIM and digital twin creation, this type of software will prove invaluable in the future.
WorksManager software provides a solution to one of the biggest time-wasters on construction sites — a lack of accurate data. In fact, 48% of rework on construction sites originates from incorrect data or miscommunications. On average, construction teams lose 5.5 hours of work weekly trying to track down project information. With software solutions, you can get this time back because you’ll always have the most up-to-date project information and drawings at hand.
Connect With SITECH West to Access Advanced Technology in Construction Industry Equipment
You don’t have to wait for the future to purchase or rent the latest technology in construction industry equipment. At SITECH West, you can find new and used equipment solutions, consulting and services. We will connect you with current cutting-edge technology solutions. Continue to trust us with your future needs as we keep our services and products updated to maintain pace with the latest trends in construction technology.
Whether you need assistance in finding the right options for your job site or know exactly what you need, contact us at SITECH West.