Technology is advancing at a fast pace and each year brings new solutions to the construction table.
Here is a list of the ten most important construction technology trends to watch for in 2018, Leaders in the industry will be those who embrace the use of technology and pay attention to these emerging technologies.
1. Virtual and augmented reality
Virtual reality technology allows individuals to “see” what a built environment will look like which is especially useful for proposed new construction projects. Allowing someone to visualize and experience the project can go a long way in building confidence for all involved in the project.
Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality except that the it involves walking through a real 3D environment while viewing additional real-time information about the environment. For example, if a building owner wanted to create a rooftop garden area with various features, augmented reality would bring the roof to life – before the project starts. It will allow that owner to stand on the roof and see what the existing roof would look like with the addition of the garden roof features.
2. Online Jobsite
New technologies are eliminating the delays in communication that can occur between the job site, the office, the installers and the rest of the project team. Job site connectivity is becoming easier to achieve with the use of connected smartphones and tablets that can send and receive information in real time to everyone involved in a project, including the building owner.
3. Wearable Technology
There is a new company that offers wearable tags that allow contractors to improve and advance the safety of their workers on the job site. A clip can be attached to workers’ belts that tell you when someone slips, trips, or falls and alerts you to what zone of the job site they are in. They also offer an equipment tag that links to the belt clip to tell you who is operating the equipment and delivers statistics on how the equipment is being used.
The drone industry is exploding and there are so many uses for drone technology in construction. They can be used to map project sites, report project progress and changes, update clients and inspect damage following severe weather. Companies are popping up every day that offer drone services which means you don’t have to master flying one.
Robotics haven’t shown up on the rooftop – yet. But they will. They are already being used to lay bricks – at a pace six times faster than a human. This video of the SAM100 bricklaying robot shows how the technology works faster and eliminates the lifting and bending that can create problems and potential injuries for workers.
6. Cloud & Mobile Technology
Looking back only a few years, most people had difficulty or were unable to describe what a cloud operating system was. Today, virtually all mobile devices are capable of leveraging cloud technology, with the ability to use and operate cloud-based software from anywhere, and at any time. The sky is the limit for cloud devices as more people know the advantages, including essentially limitless amounts of data that can be stored and shared instantly with the touch of a button, and at about the tenth of the cost of old sharing technologies. It is accessible from anywhere that is connected online. This technology will go from being preferred in the construction industry to becoming mandatory in order to remain competitive in the market.
7. Construction Management Software
This trend has been around for some time and is commonly used by most construction businesses in some form or another. Today, however, there are numerous types of construction software being used to manage all functional areas of a construction business. These programs help manage business operations that are just as important as the construction itself, including job costing, service management, project management, scheduling, budgeting, and payments to name a few.
8. Smart/Green Construction
Smart Construction started out as an expensive fad on the West Coast and in Europe a few years ago. The savings yielded after careful planning on energy sparing construction was barely worth the effort. In 2018, many analysts are expecting the costs of green construction to go down significantly, assuming other trends are followed. If the entire construction process is streamlined with the use of other time and labor sparing technologies, the use of solar, wind and other sustainable forms of energy can be easily offset, making the clients’ savings well worth the use.
9. BIM (Building Information Modeling)
Easily one of the best new trends of 2018 will be BIM. This has been used in the past, but a lot of innovation has gone into this construction industry technology. This not only enables 3D and 4D (time) programming, but also 5D, 6D, 7D and 8D, or cost, as-built operation, sustainability and safety. It is essentially an intelligent, model-based technology that takes a project from conception to completion. Expect to see this trend continue to increase in usage over the coming years.
10. 3D Printing
Another technology that has been around for a few years, its usage is likely to continue growing in the coming years. In the past, the two main struggles to adopting this technology were cost and time. The machines are still cost-prohibitive and can be overworked easily, and the time to finish a project by this machine was very slow. There are plans to work on both of these issues, as the implications of this technology could be very important to the construction industry going forward.
Looking into what will probably be 2018’s top construction technology trends is exciting and much more ambitious than what we have seen in a while. The list will likely continue to grow as timeliness, efficiency, safety and the need for green technologies continue to become more important to the construction industry.
Companies in the construction and roofing industries need to get on board the technology train or risk being left far, far behind the rest of the market.