Technology has transformed almost every part of daily life. It’s no shock that construction technology is making worksites safer and more efficient. Some of these high-tech products take technology that is very common, such as smartphones, and find imaginative ways to address the needs of a construction business. Others, like 3D printers, are highly specialized and expensive pieces of equipment. Whatever their source, each tech tool is having a profound impact on the way the industry conducts a job.
Here are some of just a few innovations that have swept construction sites around the country.
Drones can be used to collect information and take pictures in places construction workers couldn’t easily reach on their own. Images from drones can be used to perform inspection reports and site assessments, helping to ensure that a worksite is as safe as possible for its workers and the environment. In some cases, construction firms can turn these images into 3D models that bring an architectural plan to life.
In addition to being used for planning, drones are helping companies manage their security and logistics, even when workers aren’t on-site. Drone cameras can be used to record deliveries of equipment and as a security system.
Drones will only become more important as camera and lens technology improves, increasing their capabilities.
Smartphones, iPads and other kinds of mobile devices are near-ubiquitous. Naturally, the construction industry has found ways to incorporate these technologies into its processes. Mobile apps give workers easy access to documents and other pieces of information they need to effectively do their jobs. These applications are extremely common on many sites, a trend that shows no sign of dissipating.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Building Information Modelling, or BIM, is a form of 3D modeling that’s helping construction companies with project visualization and planning. BIM was first used for architecture and engineering but has become an essential tool for construction.
Many software products for BIM also add in 4D and 5D processing. 4D projects out the scheduling for every part of the construction. 5D, meanwhile, gives a visual representation of the cost of the part of a building. Put together, each of these capabilities gives workers and clients alike a firm understanding of the plans and expectations and allows them to see if they are getting off track. BIM also can help cut down on accidents by ensuring that everyone on a crew is on the same page.
Many companies are adding 3D printed parts and materials to their buildings, making their projects more efficient. 3D printers can meet specifications for parts and create with a variety of materials, including plastic and concrete. They’ve become so effective that houses have even been built using exclusively 3D printed parts.
Many 3D printers utilize a robotic arm to move around as they print, making larger parts and helping to fit them together. Expect to see even more of this ever-growing sector in construction technology.
Internet of Things
The interconnectedness of different pieces of devices through the internet, collectively called the Internet of Things (IoT), is helping construction teams communicate among personnel on one site, with distributors and even with other work sites. Most prominently, companies are placing sensors on building projects in order to collect a continuous stream of data and use it to determine when to buy new materials. In some cases, IoT technology is being used to monitor many parts of a company’s supply chain, in order to make it more efficient.
Experts believe IoT may bring on combinations of several of the technologies listed above being rolled into innovative packages, such as BIM that uses information from drones. While it remains to be seen what the future holds, one thing is clear: Construction technology will continue to play a growing and exciting part in the industry.