Technological innovations in construction are rapidly changing the way we build. These emerging industry trends include 3D printing, robotic total stations, sustainable materials, and more.
Robotics help increase productivity by performing repetitive tasks, such as laying bricks or tying rebar. However, they need human supervision to ensure that the job is done correctly.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a relatively new technique that is becoming increasingly popular. Originally designed for product prototyping, the technology is now being used in construction and other industries. It is expected to revolutionize the industry by reducing costs, increasing production, and improving architectural freedom.
However, the technology is not without its challenges. Some of the main barriers include: regulatory issues, integrating it with existing construction project management processes, and the need to upskill workers. In addition, the quality of prints is often dependent on the printer and the materials used.
Despite these challenges, the construction 3D printing industry is still growing at a rapid rate. Construction 3D printing companies are developing innovative methods of building and home construction that promise to reduce human, energy, ecological, and financial costs.
One example is Mighty Buildings, a company that uses concrete-based 3D printing to produce low-cost homes for underdeveloped areas in record time. Another is Fortera, a material technology company that produces an eco-friendly concrete that significantly reduces CO2 emissions. These innovations are promising to reduce the cost of residential construction by up to 50% and to provide more housing options for people around the world.
Construction firms can use AI to automate tasks and provide insights for optimum project efficiency. It also reduces project costs, increases productivity and enhances safety. This technology is especially useful in remote locations where labor shortages and telecommunications problems limit human intervention.
AI construction solutions like camera-enabled robots allow for quick inspection of the site and help detect even the slightest errors early on. This allows for the correction of these minor errors, preventing their expansion into major issues later on. This enables the completion of projects on time and within budget.
Occupational health risks are common on job sites, including falls, mishaps, and exposure to hazardous materials. AI can monitor work areas for these hazards and alert the relevant team to take action. It can also assess the impact of a potential accident on the overall project schedule, cost, and quality. This can mitigate risk factors for companies and protect them against lawsuits and high insurance premiums. AI tools can also help reduce downtime by predicting when maintenance is due and identifying potential machine failures before they occur.
Robotic Total Stations
A robotic total station is a surveying instrument that allows for more accurate measurements than manual instruments. While they may seem costly at first, many companies are finding that investing in them saves them time, money and resources in the long run.
Robotic total stations allow for a single operator to perform surveying and layout tasks remotely, speeding up the process of laying out points and installation preparation. They also have the ability to automatically lock onto a prism if they get lost, so work can continue quickly when interruptions occur.
The technology also helps to break down barriers between offices and field teams by allowing real-time data connection between the two. This allows managers to better understand what’s happening on the ground and catch any problems before they become a major issue, keeping projects on schedule and budget-friendly. This technology is also helping improve safety on construction sites by preventing accidents. For instance, by using facial recognition and geolocation software, workers can be instantly alerted if they are wearing PPE or near a hazardous area.
Sustainable Building Materials
Whether it is building materials, drones or a wearable sensor, technology helps construction companies streamline projects. This increases productivity and improves communication between team members. This is especially important in a sector that faces challenges such as labor shortages and rising material costs.
Startups are developing sustainable building materials that are durable, low-maintenance, and energy-efficient. These include nanomaterials like graphene and spider silk, carbon composites, and hydroceramics. Additionally, startup Recoma makes construction boards out of recycled materials such as plastic and beverage cartons, which reduces the need for deforestation and mining of natural resources.
These technologies are essential for construction companies that want to maintain their competitive edge. They enable them to make decisions faster and more accurately, ensure project timelines are met, and improve safety and working conditions on the job site. In addition, they help to avoid waste and increase productivity by reducing project scope overspending and QC errors. This can also boost profitability and allow companies to stay ahead of their competitors. Moreover, they can lead to better business process management and more effective communication with clients.
Autonomous Heavy Equipment
With skilled workers a hot commodity and margin pressures keeping construction contractors on the edge of their seats, equipment automation has never been more appealing. But, before you fire your bricklayer and bring in a robot to do his or her job, it’s important to remember that robotics and automated machinery aren’t going to replace human laborers in the construction industry. Rather, they’ll serve as a tool to help reduce manual workloads and expand project possibilities.
For example, using autonomous dump trucks can significantly increase operational productivity and offer cost savings through optimized operations. Plus, these machines are often designed with energy-efficient systems that reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
While full autonomy is still a few years away for most construction applications, the technology can be used to help improve worker safety, reduce maintenance costs and provide better site visibility. For instance, a company like Teleo uses machine learning to monitor the performance of equipment and keep operators safe. Moreover, it can help to shorten the training time for inexperienced employees to operate certain equipment.