Illuminated Objects
 

New construction technology 

As we know, technology is advancing at an ever more rapid rate. And while the technology industry has been 'historically' slow at adopting new technology, it's starting to pick up speed and more and more smart technology companies are beginning to tackle the major issues and opportunities which face this massive industries and our company today.

Many of the technology trends which were gathering speed will continue to gather speed and shape the construction landscape in years to come, but there are some even newer technologies and trends which are going to rear their pretty heads in the years to come.

Some of these technologies include:

IoT (The Internet of Things)

The internet of things (commonly referred to as IoT) holds great promise for all devices, systems and communication all over the world.

For construction in 2021, IoT will still be in its early stages, and the most common and applicable use cases will be simple in nature, such as software and systems automatically catching people moving on and off of site (inductions etc.) and making machines and equipment smarter by enabling them to 'talk' with computers and other software's.

Eventually, most construction technologists see a future where everything on site is connected, from employees with smart devices and wearables, to automated machines and equipment and of course all the way back to the office and project and document management.

 

Augmented reality (and a bit of virtual reality)

Augmented reality (AR) is another promising and ambitious technology which is just starting to gets its claws into the construction industry.

On the consumer and residential side of building and construction, augmented reality is already playing a part in the design and construct process, with people being able to overlay digital couches, walls and kitchens into real spaces - getting a 'real' look at what it will look like in the space.

There aren't as many easy use cases for civil construction projects today, but AR will likely impact how people can plan and make decisions based on augmented reality models and visualisations in the not too distant future.

 

Data and software interoperability

The rise of project management software, financial software tools, on site apps as well as big data have brought a number of benefits to construction companies, but they also have their own unique challenges.

One of the biggest challenges facing these new software's and tools is interoperability, which is a characteristic of a product or system which enables it to work or communicate directly with other products or systems - or be 'compatible' with other systems.

Today, many software's and tools operate in their own silos, which brings about the same issues construction companies have seen for decades in managing work and information across word docs, excel and PDFs - the need to jump between systems, format documents and enter data manually.

Construction interoperability seeks to change this, and so do more modern software platforms like Dash pivot, which enable companies to move standardised information all the way from site to reporting and tracking without changing systems or manually entering data.

While integrations are the flavour of the day today and improve how data flows, there is still a lot of fiddling around and custom bespoke work required to get the tools talking properly.

The obvious benefits of this are lower labour costs, massive amounts of saved time and real-time data and insights.

 

On site controls

On a related note to the above, the power of the construction office is moving more and more towards the site - which is where the action really happens.

Workers on site today can be inducted, take photos and videos, mark-up PDFs and drawings, track progress and generally do most things they can do in the office.

This is improving record keeping on site, improving safety, improving the transparency and communication between the office and the site and giving foremen, engineers and project managers more freedom and better tools to get their jobs done every day.

On site technology and usability will continue to improve in 2020 and beyond.

 

Modular construction

Modular construction has already been used in a number of places on a number of projects, and is bringing new hope to many countries and areas because of its lower costs and speed to completion.

But as we know with all technology trends, it takes time for new innovations and new ways of 'doing things' to permeate an industry. 

There are a number of converging trends which point to this happening, including increased environmental awareness, smaller housing and more standardised vertically oriented housing apartments in cities (apartments).

Blockchain

Blockchain is widely regarded as the next big thing in the technology field after the Internet, big data and artificial intelligence.

 

It realizes the transaction trust among various parties in a decentralized way, which will bring about systematic and significant changes in the fields of finance, supply chain, Internet of things, logistics, e-commerce, media, resource sharing and other fields.

Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible (a house, car, cash, land) or intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding). Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.

 

Business runs on information. The faster it’s received and the more accurate it is, the better. Blockchain is ideal for delivering that information because it provides immediate, shared and completely transparent information stored on an immutable ledger that can be accessed only by permissioned network members.

 

A blockchain network can track orders, payments, accounts, production and much more. And because members share a single view of the truth, you can see all details of a transaction end to end, giving you greater confidence, as well as new efficiencies and opportunities.

Blockchain technology is moving closer to becoming an acceptable medium for transactions on the property market – but the challenges will be more legal and legislative than technological. Blockchain has the potential to transform the real-estate market; in particular, tokenisation could enable new ways of conducting business and investing.

 

Robotics

Human labour is still by far the most common source of labour on all construction sites today - and it definitely will be in 2022 as well.

But robotics in the construction industry will continue to develop and be tested through 2019, and will likely garner more interest and attention.

Laying bricks and painting walls are skilful yet often repetitive tasks which can be automated and 'outsourced' to robots, who can often get the job done just as quickly (if not faster), much more cheaply, and never get injured, make mistakes or get tired.

The benefits of robotics in construction are obvious - but the downsides and worries about where these manual labourers and tradesmen will go and what they will do is yet to be determined.

Autonomous vehicles

There has been a lot of noise around autonomous vehicles in the last couple of years, much of it positive and some of it negative.

While most of this noise has surrounded autonomous cars and road-bearing trucks, construction companies and vendors have been exploring and developing self-driving and self-operating machines and equipment.

While 2021 may still be a bridge too far (or too soon) for autonomous vehicles in construction, we may start to see more and more machines moving around site and operating autonomously this year - as they get better and people become less freaked out by an empty drivers seat.

 

Artificial intelligence and the blockchain

We had to include these two technology trends in this list, mainly because the level of interest and coverage on them has shifted them into the construction technology discussion technology too.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning could be of major benefit for such a data driven and data heavy industry, with machines and computers beginning to see trends and understand why projects were late and helping people make more informed decisions.

Blockchain is a less flushed out technology for construction, but there are certainly some very real applications for the interesting technology around record keeping, timesheets, variations disputes and more - all centred around a verifiable distributed ledger which acts as the middle man between people and parties - and potentially removes some of the need for litigation and disputes.

But given that paper ledges and paper diaries are still a common site on construction sites, we likely have a way to go before the blockchain is where daily records live and/or move.

Adopting these new technologies into your company, projects and teams

It's important to try cut through the noise when it comes to new construction technology, and that is no different in 2021. While some of the newest construction technologies hold an incredible amount of promise and brighter future for the industry, others are bluster and noise and probably fads. It's important for construction companies to focus on delivering projects on time and on budget, with minimum fuss.

If new technology helps make that happen, then it's a win for everyone.

And most construction companies do look at this technology with a very sensible outlook. Even with all of this amazing new technology, most construction companies are planning to spend more amount of money on technology into 2022.

This suggests that these companies are becoming more accustom to shopping for new technology and replacing older less efficient technologies with new, similarly priced but more effective solutions.

Overall, the construction industry isn't much different to any other industry or any other facet of the world market and economy, and technology will continue to play a larger role in how every day work gets done and managed through 2021 and beyond.

While some of these future trends still feel far away - especially when many companies are still using paper forms, letters and email - they will sneak up on all of us, and it's important that we stay a-breadth with what is happening, what it means for our industries, our companies - and of course what it means for our own jobs, careers and futures.