One of the most vibrant sectors today is the construction industry. It involves the development of buildings for residential, commercial and business purposes. This industry provides the basic human need of shelter. As such, it is necessary and therefore quite lucrative. There are many companies and individuals who have made a fortune by building houses and developing properties. A famous example is Donald Trump. Like most other sectors, the construction industry is experiencing disruption by technology. It has been ripe for disruption for a long time. Big construction projects used to take 20% longer to get completed. Moreover, they used to exceed the original budget by up to 80%. The application of technological devices and concepts in the process of construction will cause strategic changes in this field. Here is how the construction industry will be disrupted by these technologies.
Agility at scale made possible by technology
Constructing large buildings is an expensive activity that normally takes quite a lot of time. For example the Freedom Tower has 104 stories and took a total of 7 years to build. However, technology is shortening this time period by a big fraction. In 2015, a construction company in China built a 57 story building in a record 19 days. The process was reported in The Guardian and shocked the world. How did they build such a large structure in less than a month? This is the power of agility at scale. This concept combines data gathering, process automation and the use of pre-fabricated building sections. By using this strategy, construction companies can build structures in record time while maintaining structural integrity. Agility at scale is a disruptive technology that is allowing companies to build faster, investors to get a quicker Return On Investment (ROI) and residents to get homes much quicker than before.
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This is a method of creating physical objects using a laser-guided mechanism. It is a major disruptive technology in the field of construction. In 3D printing, objects which have complex curves, layers and artistic decorations can be made. It is very difficult to make them by hand or using traditional tools and implements. As such, 3D printing is used to make the vision of architects come true. A major advantage is that the process can be automated to make multiple copies at a time.
Performing building inspections using drones
Drones are remote-controlled, unmanned flying robots. They are battery powered and are often equipped with cameras. One of the activities which is performed during construction is inspection. It is a quality control activity. Before a single brick is laid, inspection is performed to assess the quality of the building materials, the soil consistency, vegetation cover and surface space. As construction continues, inspection is performed to check the construction integrity. This is done even at building heights such as the 30th floor. Since it is quite dangerous to do this in person, drones have taken over the job.
They can fly very high and close to the building beams to assess them. Thanks to advanced, High Definition (HD) lenses, drones can take close up images of buildings during inspection. They are also much faster than human personnel. Hence, the process takes a much shorter time. Drones are also used to perform inspection of wide areas, supervise construction and conduct pre-construction simulation. These activities help the construction companies to avoid errors before beginning the work. The possibility of performing unmanned construction is also being explored with drones.
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Building Information Modeling (BIM)
This is a technology that is rapidly replacing blueprints in building construction. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the creation of images that contain intelligent, detailed and interactive 3D models of buildings. Tremendous information management is performed so as to bring BIM models to life. This is a major change in the construction industry. By using these building models, all the information about a particular building project can be brought into one collective spot. Through the activity of modeling a structure, clients and contractors can look at it through every stage of construction. This provides a forum for the discussion of changes and procedures from both parties. BIM allows all stakeholders to arrive at a common goal in building construction.
Augmented Reality (AR)
This is one of the foremost virtual imaging technologies available today. It is where pictures, icons and data can be overlaid on images of actual subjects in real time. By using AR, you can look through the lens of your smartphone or tablet and see more information about the subject of your image. This is currently being applied as a disruptive technology in the field of construction. It is especially important in highlighting hazards before they occur. In this way, you can assess if the schedule of construction will be affected. If it will, measures are taken to prevent these issues from occurring. In this way, errors can be discovered ahead of time and corrected to ensure smooth sailing of a project. Augmented Reality (AR) also makes it easier for architects, planners and designers to cooperate with contractors during construction. This is because relevant data about the building can be shared with all parties quickly and efficiently through AR. By arriving at a common ground long before construction begins, the overall cost is reduced.
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Special equipment for health and safety
One of the most important factors to maintain on a construction site is health and safety. It is important for all the officers present to be healthy and secure at all times. Maintaining these conditions in a construction site is performed using specialized safety gadgets. Examples of these include hard hats that light up, hardened safety goggles, night vision goggles, waterproof electronics and responsive clothing. All these and more are created using the power of technology. By keeping the construction workers safe and healthy, the cost of operations is reduced, the quality of output increased and overall efficiency is boosted.
The Important Take Away
Modern technology is disrupting the field of construction in many ways. Some of the ways it is accomplishing this are described above. Technological innovation allows for quicker, more effective creation of buildings. As such, it is a welcome and positive step towards the future of this industry.