Construction technology is rapidly changing the way sites work around the world, and Australia is no exception. Forward-thinking builders, developers, site managers, and architects are embracing advances in technology to helping their staff work faster, smarter, safer and more cost-effectively.
With so many changes and possibilities to consider, we wanted to break down the five construction technology trends that we believe will have the biggest impact on the industry as we head towards 2025.
1. Predictive analytics technology
While many construction companies have yet to adopt digitisation, the equipment and assets they’re purchasing are becoming smarter every year.
Smart technology on machinery is capable of making predictions about the likelihood of stock shortages, maintenance issues, wastage, and so on. Coupled with affordable wireless technologies such as sensors, building sites have become alive with data that make it easy to identify potential risks, monitor productivity and track materials.
With companies drowning in data, the competitive edge of the future will come from interpreting this information and producing actionable insights ahead of time.
2. Augmented reality
Clever Construction Technology companies such as Autodesk and Graphisoft are making 3D and 5D Building Information Modelling (BIM) easy and intuitive to use.
BIM works by compiling all sources of data about a construction project to create an exact 3D model. The systems can seamlessly incorporate architectural, geotechnical and structural engineering specs, along with project-specific restrictions, images and more to show what the completed project will look like.
BIM also comes in handy after construction is finished. The Sydney Opera House, for example, is developing a BIM model to track everything from mechanical equipment to roof tiles, in order to streamline maintenance activities.
While 3D components are solely focussed on design, 5D makes it possible to include time and cost dimensions, where visualisations of the progress of construction activities and their related costs over time can be achieved. This allows companies to identify potential risks early and ensure the project stays within budget throughout each phase of building.
If issues arise during construction, the model can be adapted to help make quick decisions about how best to solve them.
3. Drone building inspectors
Drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles) are able to do quick, safe building inspections without the need for scaffolding. This result in obvious time and cost reductions, as well as huge improvements to safety.
A drone can fly up a building multiple times a day and check on progress from all angles, with the live feed being streamed or recorded for stakeholders to view anytime, anywhere.
Drones have already hit the mainstream market and are becoming less expensive by the day.
As this exciting technology improves, we believe we will see a reduction in size (allowing site managers to fly the drones through narrow, dangerous spaces) and an improvement in strength – which would allow them to deliver materials across the site.
4. 3D Printing
3D printing technologies have been around since the 1980s, but the cost and scale of buildings have restricted its application in construction technology.
However, in recent years Australian researchers have been working on ways to 3D print components of houses known as SmartNodes. These nodes can be compared to the standard beams or fixings used to construct a house, but are faster to manufacture (and in the long run, less expensive and better for the environment).
While 3D printing of entire buildings is still likely decades away for most construction projects, the ability to print custom materials or fixtures as a means of saving time and money is definitely on the cards in the near future.
5. Data-driven site safety
By far the most prevalent use of technology is to improve the safety of staff on site. With construction technology able to do a lot of the heavy lifting, it simply makes sense to streamline work practices and avoid placing staff in risky situations. It also makes it easy to comply with tough industry regulations concerning safety and accountability.
For example, SignOnSite allows team members to quickly sign on to a job site using a mobile app. In the event of an emergency, site managers don’t lose valuable time locating paper sign on books (which often lack accuracy) as the information is on hand, at the touch of a button.
Staying on top of emerging construction technologies doesn’t have to mean implementing all of the latest developments at once. However, times are changing. And with more companies embracing technology as a means of working faster and more efficiently, it’s essential to take some steps to digitise in order to remain competitive and create a safer, more productive work site for all.
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