The construction industry is under a significant paradigm shift. When we look back throughout this industry’s history we notice some great advancements have taken place. As the end of the year approaches and we look ahead to 2019 there’s no reason we shouldn’t expect more of the same to occur. In fact, here are some of the most noteworthy trends experts believe you should expect to see in the construction industry next year.
Construction World says that although virtual reality has been an emerging trend over the past few years, it’s quickly growing outdated – especially when compared to augmented reality uses and benefits. This is the ability to visualize the real world through a camera lens. It’s something that’s bound to open many new opportunities for the construction industry even though it’ll come with a cost. For those companies who can afford to start using it now, it’ll revolutionize how they project and build things. This is a trend that will grow much bigger in the next few years. In fact, many people believe that instead of using safety goggles, we’ll start planning and plotting sites before we even break ground.
Construction software and data ecosystem
Real-time collaboration software is already regarded as an essential component of the entire building process. Nevertheless, its impact on the sector is expected to increase substantially in the near future. It goes without saying that data has played an integral role in this paradigm shift in construction.
The emergence of a data ecosystem where all the innovative players of the industry will come together and share data, experience and project knowledge is closer than we might think. And it is no exaggeration to maintain that it’s the only way forward for construction.
The ability to integrate your existing processes and systems into a single fully-connected platform can empower the way people in the industry work. A plethora of software solutions for different functions and disciplines in the course of a construction project can now effortlessly be combined in one place.
The use of digital tools facilitates the accumulation of these valuable bits of information and by extension, the minimisation of delays, rework rates, and communication hiccups between the site and the office.
In that sense, a reliable real-time collaboration software is expected to function as the digital backbone for the construction process from start to finish.
BIM will continue growing
Similar to last year, BIM is again one of the hottest construction technology trends. It comes as no surprise if we take into account that the emergence of an open and highly collaborative data ecosystem is on the way.
BIM technology could be the catalyst for a fundamental change in how we manage, design and develop a construction project. There are many different levels of programming enabled through BIM. 4Dand 5D BIM are two very representative examples in that direction.
From a general point of view, BIM will bring more accuracy to the building process and empower the exchange of important project information between the numerous stakeholder. Moreover, its further evolution is anticipated to make construction projects more productive and affordable by including revolutionary sustainability and safety measures.
It is evident, then, that BIM could function as a game changer for construction and offer a detailed depiction of the project development in an open and highly collaborative environment.
Increased prefabrication, modularization, and eco-friendliness
There’s been a growing trend towards multi-trade prefabrication. This is something the Multi Trade Prefabrication Conference is now addressing. It was the first ever multi-trade conference that was held for the growing number of construction companies who are implementing prefabrication strategies. A great example of this occurred in Dubai where a 3D office building was printed in 17 days, followed by only two days spent on site assembling it. Many construction industry experts believe we’ll continue seeing this practice grow in the coming years, especially since cost and time are no longer as prohibitive. This doesn’t mean that they’re no longer issues, simply that they’re being addressed in ways that will help propel this industry forward.
Another growing trend is off-site construction (a.k.a. modularization). This trend is similar to prefabrication in that many people see it growing in popularity over the next several years. There are already some progressive construction companies who have started implementing these strategies in the way they run their operations – especially manufacturing companies. These companies use standardized processes to assemble as much as possible off-site before they complete the construction project on site. The benefit here lies in the fact that the standardization cuts down on costs and lead times.
All these processes are very beneficial in the following three ways:
- They’re quite eco-friendly because when working on construction in a factory you can easily recycle any extra materials.This is much better than what was happening with traditional construction practices – many of which would often be forced to send large amounts of waste to landfills.
- Prefabrication saves a lot of money because construction companies can get bulk discounts on materials. This also saves them time, which will, in turn, save them even more money.
- Since all the work occurs in a factory-controlled environment there’s less risk for problems that are typically associated with things like moisture, environmental hazards, and dirt. Additionally, construction workers and the project’s eventual tenants are also less likely to be exposed to weather-related health risks.
Many of the industry’s experts believe we’ll start seeing self-healing concrete being used on roads, buildings, and homes. Since concrete is the most widely produced and consumed material in the construction industry (being used to create buildings, roads, and bridges) many believe that by 2030 we’ll be using about 5 billion metric tons per year. Part of this is due to the urban boom that’s being experienced in China and India today. Currently, the United States already makes up 8% of the total global emissions in this area – a number that’s also slated to rise.
Many construction sites are already heavily dependent on the use of drones. These drones are very beneficial in that they save a lot of time. For instance, surveyors can survey an entire site in just a few minutes, whereas in the past it’d take them several weeks or months. Obviously, this will also save construction companies a lot of money. As drone technology continues rapidly developing in its accuracy and precision of its readings, even less human involvement will be necessary. In the past, many companies were hesitant to use drones because they still needed a controller, but today as the technology grows much more efficient, more construction companies are willingly and openly embracing this technology.
JB Knowledge says robotics is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Industries like healthcare are already investing a lot of money in them. As these robots grow even more precise and accurate, they’ll become a commanding force in the construction industry. In the beginning, the cost of robotics will be high, but it will still be well worth it to at least pay attention to this technology. Eventually, we may witness robots being able to do things like lay bricks and tie rebar, we may even see them complete most of the current man-operated construction projects.
Cloud and mobile technology
Just a few years ago most people either didn’t know or couldn’t explain what a cloud operating system was. Today, this is no longer the case. In fact, most mobile devices can leverage cloud technology from anywhere, at any time. There are many great advantages to this, including storing almost limitless amounts of information that you can then share instantly with the touch of a button. This is much less expensive too – about one-tenth of what sharing old technologies cost. Since the cloud -based business phone system is accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection you can expect it to become a mandatory part of the construction industry in the future, especially if you want to remain competitive.
Advanced uses for GPS
Construction World says while GPS tracking solutions aren’t anything new, they’re now being used in more creative and resourceful ways including:
- Surveying has been dramatically improved because crews no longer need to use traditional surveying equipment.
- Data for prospective project sites can be quickly and accurately collected.
- Project managers are also using GPS in fleet management. Today, each of their vehicles is equipped with a device that is trackable via both computer and smartphones. This lets everyone know where vehicles always are.
- It’s easier to find lost or stolen equipment because managers can now generate maps that pinpoint the exact location of any of these items.
Many people within the construction industry feel that we haven’t even come close to seeing the end of the growth of GPS technology today though. Not only are applications in autonomous vehicles and wearable technology are on the rise, but we’re bound to see driverless vehicles as well. This will no longer be something we only hear about Uber using, construction companies will also be using them too. In fact, the general public will probably have these vehicles available to them as soon as 2020.
They’ll see it in the form of buses, trains, and trucks but construction fleets seriously aren’t far behind. There are many professionals who are currently working on autonomous vehicles that will make job sites even more efficient. For instance, both Caterpillar and John Deere are currently working on dozers that will have automatic blade control and hopefully they’ll take this even further and create fully autonomous and driverless versions of these vehicles as well.
We’re also witnessing the construction industry borrowing from the mining industry. In specific, there’s one piece of driverless equipment that Tokyo–based Komatsu uses GPS in for moving high-grade ore. As the number of these driverless vehicles continues growing, we’ll have a reliable and powerful guide to automated machinery. We’ll also witness GPS tracking solutions solutions be relied on for positioning and sensor integration so that they can avoid accidents and make sure everyone is safer.
New effective scanning solutions
Scanning is now creating many cost-effective solutions over the past few years. These have helped the construction industry fully understand in what stages certain projects are.
While many people may think this is only common sense, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that wearable technology (e.g. Fitbit’s, 3D glasses, Google Glass, armbands that can communicate with coaches on the sidelines) will become an emerging trend that’s useful in keeping workers safe. This will help keep workers from constantly looking down at their instructions because now they can talk to one another via this technology. Additionally, it can help track where workers are if there’s an accident. This is bound to become mandatory at some point in the future.
Without a doubt, 2019 is expected to be a breakthrough year for the construction industry. A data-driven sector with emphasis on collaboration and real-time communication is hopefully around the corner. Only then, construction stakeholders can hope for higher productivity rates and fewer painful project delays.