AI, IoT, blockchain, AR, VR and cloud computing technologies are reforming the construction industry.
Now, the introduction of digital technologies in construction is about to change the construction industry forever.
In November 2018, two buildings collapsed in the city of Marseille, France. Although authorities found six dead bodies in the rubble, many others disappeared in the rubble, and the search operation became an extreme challenge, given the heavy rains. Construction deficiencies and failures can be responsible for the loss of assets of not only millions of dollars, but can also end several lives. These situations can be avoided with the help of digital technologies in construction.
Modern technologies can automate vital operations and create a data-driven and collaborative approach to construction. The use of advanced technologies will lead to more productive and safer construction methods. In any industry, the first adopters of modern technologies always gain a competitive advantage over their peers. Therefore, construction organizations need to plan adoption strategies to take advantage of the impending dominance of digital technologies.
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES IN CONSTRUCTION
1. Artificial intelligence in construction
Several industries are already benefiting from the various artificial intelligence applications. Similarly, artificial intelligence is also revolutionizing the construction industry. Digital technologies in construction, such as artificial intelligence, will reshape the construction industry with multiple applications. In building information models, artificial intelligence can be beneficial in planning and survey. With a huge volume of data selected, AI-powered systems can create 3D maps, plans, and construction plans without the need for any human supervision. Similar systems can also be used to analyze critical construction data to identify industry trends and create strategies to ensure efficient construction practices. Artificial intelligence will also simplify various office tasks with a centralized data system where workers can record sick days, sudden and vacant departures. With the help of AI, these systems can track employee layoffs and project progress to suggest calendar updates and strategies to make up for their absence. Another important application of AI is virtual assistants. AI-powered virtual assistants can help site engineers and workers with different construction procedures and inform engineers about construction deficiencies. For example, a Swedish construction equipment company has launched an AI-powered operator assistance tool that can be used for soil and asphalt compaction. The artificial intelligence tool traces routes that compactors can follow and records temperature maps of the area. An additional feature allows the tool to adapt to new mixtures and asphalt lifts and accurately predicts the density requirement. Similarly, a California-based artificial intelligence company has developed robots and drones equipped with cameras and LiDAR sensors to monitor workplaces, replacing human protections and error range.
2. IoT in construction
While considering the adoption of digital technologies in construction, organizations need to pay attention to the potential of ITT. Several cases of IoT use can be useful in different construction operations. For starters, the IoT can facilitate efficient restocking of supply for prefabrication procedures. RFID tags can be tagged in supply materials, which can be counted remotely and notified to the central system when supply is complete. In the works, many areas can be potentially dangerous for workers. In these areas, machines with IoT sensors can be used for remote operation. In addition, laptops like Google Glass can display construction manuals before workers and engineers, without having to manually browse it. In the near future, manufacturers will be able to produce construction vehicles with windshields that also display critical data and instructions. Construction workers often waste a huge amount of time looking for construction equipment and machines in the workplace. In these cases, IoT sensors can be used to track the location of construction tools and equipment. Similarly, IoT sensors can also enable predictive maintenance of equipment. These sensors can monitor equipment and find faults to prevent costly equipment failures. IoT sensors can also monitor energy and water consumption on construction sites and promote better conservation strategies.
3. VR / AR under construction
Augmented reality is relatively younger than other digital construction technologies. But with constant research and development, innovative applications will transform the construction sector. Currently, AR allows construction planning by generating 3D models through construction plans. In this approach, construction personnel can assess the final design aspect and understand the different parameters and requirements relating to materials, labor, and equipment. For example, you can develop a mobile app that uses the phone’s camera to scan 2D construction plans and generate a virtual 3D model that shows what the project looks like when it’s finished. Similarly, virtual reality can also enable 3D modeling. RV enhances collaboration by providing a shared interactive panorama where different teams can access project plans in real time. For example, a nonprofit construction organization that operates in various locations around the world uses RV to help stakeholders understand project requirements and ensure remote monitoring of progress.
4. Blockchain under construction
Several experts already consider blockchain as revolutionary. Blockchain helps create smart contracts that can simplify supply chain management. In addition, construction organizations can use digital identification for workers, contractors, and engineers with the help of blockchain. Digital identification allows you to gather crucial information about customers and suppliers, which helps build reputation systems. These reputation systems allow organizations to collaborate with other organizations based on their performance on previous projects. In addition, blockchain also helps in managing payroll of construction personnel.
5. Cloud computing in construction
Several construction companies continue to use paper for managing crucial data and documents. These traditional methods of data processing and management are inefficient as paper documents can be lost or damaged. But the introduction of digital technologies in construction will eliminate all data management problems. Cloud computing allows you to share documents and critical data in real time. Due to its online nature, cloud computing provides an easily accessible means of storing and sharing data compared to traditional methods.
FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGIES IN CONSTRUCTION
With continuous research and development, the application of digital technologies to construction is only advancing with each passing day. New technologies will lead to the creation of better, more effective and transparent work practices in the field of construction. For example, with more sophisticated technologies, 3D printing will also make large-scale production possible. 3D printed houses, bridges and other structures will be seen as a reality in the future.
In addition, IoT sensors can be used to build smart roads that provide real-time traffic and weather updates to drivers. These roads also load cars and lights. In addition, some building materials manufacturers are developing modular bricks that have built-in thermal energy control and additional space for insulation, electricity and plumbing, which reduce the cost of construction. Alternatively, the Harvard Self-Organizing Systems Research Group has programmed small four-wheeled robots to work together like a swarm. These robots have sensors and algorithms that detect other robots and prevent any collision. Soon, innovation in digital technologies in construction will reduce the demand for labor and lead to cost-effective and time-saving construction techniques.
HOLISTIC APPROACH TO DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES
The deployment of digital technologies in construction is a feasible solution to numerous construction-related problems. All digital technologies under construction are being deployed or prototyped, making applications even more practical. Therefore, the introduction of digital technologies in construction is imminent. But the adoption of these technologies can be a convoluted process involving multiple technicalities. Therefore, organizations should consider the following roadmap:
- Hire experienced professionals with specialized skills
- Create strategies for effective deployment
- Assign the appropriate budgets
- Generate analysis for information on various industry trends
- Inform workers and employees about the technologies deployed
- Develop innovative applications to promote productive construction practices
The digital divide has already made several industries more competitive. The construction industry will face similar situations when digital construction technologies become more evident. Therefore, organizations need to realize the potential of modern technologies and not rule them out as a passing trend.