Technology has permeated every segment of the workplace, bringing distinct advantages such as increased productivity, lower costs and a competitive edge in the marketplace. Like any other industry, the construction industry has at its disposal, a range of digital tools that can improve processes during planning, construction, delivery and beyond.
Interestingly, the construction industry lags behind other domains in the adoption of technology. A recent study describes construction as one of the least digitised industries. With capital projects often taking longer and costing more than originally planned, there is a massive opportunity for those who embrace new technology to reduce this gap, improving efficiency and boosting their bottom line.
Top 10 digital tools and technologies for the modern construction industry
Building Information Modelling (BIM)
An advanced digital tool that has revolutionised the construction industry, Building Information Modelling (BIM) brings all the elements of a project together, replacing blueprints with detailed, fully interactive 3D models encompassing geometry, spatial data, specifications, aesthetics, thermal and acoustic properties. BIM allows all stakeholders to effectively collaborate throughout the project and beyond. A 5D BIM platform also incorporates timing, estimating and costing, allowing project managers to identify and analyse the potential impact of any changes.
Project Management Software
Construction managers have a choice of several project management software applications specifically designed for the industry to streamline project workflows. Project managers can, for instance, use this software to easily make revisions, saving time and money and reducing the potential for errors. Cloud-based solutions allow seamless project management from pre-sale to completion, include financial tools to balance budgets, and also enable simple collaboration with clients and customers throughout.
Smart buildings are leading the way in creating energy efficient environments for commercial as well as residential sectors. Using embedded technology, buildings can adapt and optimise lighting and heating controls based on real-time external factors, taking energy consumption to new levels of efficiency.
HD Surveying and Geolocation
Discrepancies between geological survey estimates and actual site conditions can lead to budget and schedule blowouts. A new technology that enables integration between high-definition photography, 3-D laser scanning and geographic information systems, combined with advances in drone technology and light detection and ranging (LiDAR), is bringing more accurate results.
Continuous advances achieved in 3D printing technology are opening up new opportunities in design across several industries. While 3D printing may not be viable for construction worksites at the moment, projects ranging from a pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam to a cubby house in Melbourne are showcasing the technology’s capabilities. It’s possible to print materials such as concrete, steel and glass but regulation remains the main challenge moving forward.
Wearable technology holds a lot of promise for the construction industry. Project managers can take advantage of a host of developments from smart helmets and smart glasses with video capabilities, to smart vests with GPS and bionic suits that enable super-strength.
Tool Tracking Devices
Tools can go missing on busy construction sites very easily, but new tool tracking technologies can help prevent tools getting misplaced. Tool trackers consist of a small attachment that can be glued, screwed or strapped to tools, allowing the user to locate their tools using an app on their smartphone.
The growing demand for eco-friendly and affordable construction materials is driving the development of new materials such as self-healing concrete that uses bacteria to mend its own cracks; super strong, ultralight nanomaterials; a top-mix permeable cement alternative; and the super-transparent insulating material, aerogel among others.
Internet of Things
Operating through sensors and wireless devices, the Internet of Things enables equipment, machinery, materials and structures to communicate data to a central platform. Project managers can safely rely on IoT technology to receive alerts on maintenance, repairs or stock orders as well as keep track of quality assurance.
Digital Collaboration and Mobility
The move to cloud-based, mobile-enabled platforms from a paper-based system is a game-changer for the construction industry as it allows all stakeholders to collaborate seamlessly and manage projects digitally, with more transparency and ease. Regardless of your location, you can access all the latest project information on the cloud, create reports and have virtual project meetings. Communication is also a breeze thanks to the wonders of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
This is an exciting time for the construction industry with new innovations being developed and introduced to the market to simplify and improve processes.
Involved in the prefabrication industry since 2003, SBS Group is a forward-thinking manufacturing company, driven by the possibilities of building smarter and embracing new technology and digital trends.
Call SBS Group to know more about their smarter building solutions.