10 Disruptive Technological Trends in Construction
30 January 2017
It took more than 20 years and 20,000 workers to construct the Taj Mahal. If it were constructed today, it probably would have been completed within a span of few months and just a fraction of the original workforce, thanks to the rapid technological advances over the past decade or so. A Chinese construction company recently built a 57 storey skyscraper in record 19 days! With increasing competition and enlightened and empowered consumers, the projects conceptualized today have to heavily rely on smarter modern technology. These technical innovations support highly efficient, cost effective construction, reduce the use of labor intensive techniques, ensure zero wastage of resources and at a faster pace.
- BIM ( Building Information Modelling )
Traditionally, building designs were two-dimensional drawing on paper or 3D paper models. BIM extends beyond the basic geometry and incorporates time as 4th dimension (4D) and cost as the 5th (5D). This helps the design team to create more stable and cost effective designs, reduces information loss and provides extensive information to owners as well as the construction team. It helps to construct flawless buildings as problems can be found and resolved before construction begins.
- Smart Buildings
Information technology has completely revolutionized our lives. Real estate Industry is embracing IT to not only construct but also to maintain new age buildings. Automated processes are used to control operations such as heating, air-conditioning, lighting, security and other home systems. These are environment friendly as they are energy saving and reduce environmental impacts. Sensors, microchips and other devices continuously collect data and accordingly manage the building functions.
- Connected Job sites
Smart phones have changed the way we live and also the way we work. Video conferencing over Internet using mobile phones, sharing videos etc ensure that the team doesn’t have to wait for answers which can slow and delay projects. Remote team members can gain complete visibility of job-site and all the data. Such real-time collaboration improves efficiency and quality. It helps in keeping track of projects and avoiding delays.
- Big Data Analytics
With the advent of Information Technology, large amounts of data are generated by the second. Big data Analytics is considered the next big thing which will radically transform the Industry. Construction Industry itself generates large volumes of data which if recorded and analyzed, can be used to reduce costs, improve efficiency, save time and energy, identify risks, improve quality, create better designs etc.
- VR/AR technology
We all witnessed the impact of Augmented Reality when people all over the world took to streets to catch imaginary pokemons. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology is almost here and ready to take us by storm. VR/AR can be used in the construction industry especially during designing as it can help detect major errors in designs which can prove costly in the future. Some construction companies like Bechtel are already using it for safety training purposes.
- Construction Robotics
Giant robots smashing buildings and turning them into rubble doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore as Deconstruction robots or Demolition robots are already making their way into the industry. Some companies are also working on automating masonry construction. Construction Robotics could be the future of Construction Industry.
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ( Drones)
UAVs can be controlled using a remote control or a computer, or they can be programmed to fly on specified paths. They can be used for aerial surveys of job-sites or to track projects as they can generate real-time photos and 3D images. They can be used to observe and monitor hard to reach places thereby ensuring job-site safety and avoiding hazards.
- 3D Printing
3D printing is swiftly emerging as a cheaper and faster alternative to traditional construction. A Chinese company, HuaShang Tengda, 3D printed an entire two storey house on-site in just 45 days! Moreover the material they used is extremely tough, durable, inexpensive and the structure itself is capable of withstanding an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 on Ritcher scale. Many companies are preparing to follow suit as it is a cost-effective and convenient method for large scale construction.
Prefabrication is already widely used in construction. However, combining it with BIM ( Building Information Modeling ), prefabrication can be used more effectively on a larger scale and for even complex projects that need detailed information. It is especially useful for constructing green buildings since material, design and method for prefabrication can be planned at the designing stage itself. This high precision method ensures more controlled movement of air-conditioning, heating etc lowering energy consumption and wastage.
- Green Buildings
Green buildings use environmentally responsible processes to create resource-efficient structures that have minimal impact on natural environment. These buildings are designed to be energy efficient and reduce wastage of resources. Renewable energy such as solar heating, wind energy, rain water harvesting, sewage treatment etc are some of the features of a green building. They are built using environment friendly techniques and materials such as permeable concrete to assist replenishment of ground water. These buildings are eco-friendly throughout their lifecycle, from site location to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition.
Embracing new technology is not optional but mandatory for any industry in this digital age. Why will it be any different for construction business?