Historically, the construction industry has lagged in technological advancements. However, in recent years, it has made tremendous strides in the following areas...
Cutting-edge GPS technology provides efficiencies that would have not been feasible just a few years ago. It is increasingly used for surveying and mapping, locating buried and overhead utilities, facilitating heavy machinery, precision grading and excavation, and enhancing material application. It has become critical to improving productivity, efficiency, and the safety of construction job sites.
2. Digital 3D Modeling
Thanks to 3D modeling, the construction process no longer necessarily requires rolling out blueprints of building designs. This speeds up the design process and enables architects and designers more freedom to explore different ideas and identify potential design problems before they become real issues. It also provides an engaging, realistic rendering for owners and clients to better imagine what the finished project will look like in the real world.
3. Image Capturing, Drones, Robotics & VR
With high definition time-lapse image-capturing cameras set up throughout the job site, construction companies can create a virtual record of project progress with ease. With some of the most high-tech versions such as OpenSpace, a new Silicon Valley startup, users only need to mount a 360-degree camera on a hardhat, press record, and walk through a construction site. Within a day, OpenSpace AI will stitch the video footage into a 360-degree-panoramic map similar to Google Street View. This cuts hours out of the time it would take to walk through with a standard camera.
In addition, the growing popularity of drones allows for easily capturing aerial footage of buildings. This is excellent for capturing work progress, but also great for creating content that fully captures the building’s beauty from all angles.
Virtual Reality is beginning to play a role in construction, with the world’s first pavilion-scale structure being built with the aid of VR goggles called “HoloLens” which integrates CAD workflow with augmented reality. It displays a generated design model through holographic instruction rather than 2D drawings.
4. Management & Reporting Software
Easy-to-use apps allow workers to access, document, share and edit important project information even while on the job site. Select new devices are built to weather field work and rugged conditions. Barcode scanners and RFID readers help track equipment and materials. The use of mobile devices and apps increases communication, real-time information, and sharing of documents and materials not only with co-workers but with clients as well.
5. 3D Printing
New large-scale 3d printers can precisely pour cement to quickly produce building components, foundations, bridges, and even full small-to-medium size buildings. Only the future will tell how this will transform the construction industry.
6. Social Media
Our industry has embraced the social media boom with marketing techniques that are coming full circle from a virtual idea to approvals, design, groundbreaking and commissioning. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become the hub for employees and customers to congregate around photos, videos, news, and construction site updates on a daily basis. Real-time photos can be posted by phone straight from the job site to social media, giving customers and employees instant access to what is happening *now*. Social media has also made remotely posting job listings, connecting with old colleagues, and meeting new clients and customers faster and easier than ever.
The millennial wave has hit the forefront of the construction industry, encouraging companies to acquire, learn, and implement many of these new and upcoming software & technologies. It has become the norm for our high-tech society to infiltrate all aspects of construction.
What does this all mean? While it can mean huge changes and advancements in a positive way, it can also mean we are constantly at odds with ourselves in the workforce. As we gain knowledge and speed from all of these technological advancements, they enable us to creatively work ourselves into being more proficient and accountable with fewer people!
Todd Laubach started with March Construction, in October 2005 as a Project Executive where he was in charge of Whole Foods projects as well as Target and other industrial projects.