Kylie Addison Sabra
December 20, 2019
Construction tech is morphing and as this year draws near its end, we gaze through the haze to see what 2020 may have in store for us. What will it hold for the construction industry? How will you adapt?
Terminology that was once the domain of sci-fi and fantasy is alive and thriving in our real-life world. Robots, 3D printing, drones, wearables, autonomous equipment, advanced materials, machine learning, blockchain, VR, AR, AI, IoT, BIM . . .. Oh my! I need to take a breath–and grab a dictionary.
The field of construction technology is prime territory for these burgeoning applications. Visionary companies are putting multiples of these new applications to work. Not only are they making a positive difference in the world, but they are forcing the construction industry to reevaluate its perception of the future and of construction tech itself.
ICON and New Story – A Visionary Partnership
ICON and New Story teamed up to build 3D printed homes with the prime objective of finding an affordable and sustainable solution to the world-wide homeless crisis. They utilize special materials such as Lavacrete, ICON’s proprietary recipe of Portland cement, and a 3D printing robot named Vulcan II. Like I said, sci-fi. But it’s not.
The duo’s innovative thinking also solves another issue facing the industry–the lack of skilled workers. The Vulcan II, can build a home with an on-site staff of four to six people. Their innovative use of modern construction tech has unleashed new possibilities.
Alphabet Soup for Construction Tech
VR, AR, AI, IoT, BIM–short hand references for the latest industry technology. Building information management (BIM) revolves around a shared space where everyone involved in a project can communicate from conception to completion.
Smart Machines Save Money
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning promise to reduce construction waste, alert project managers to supply chain issues, improve design and more. AI learns by evaluating existing processes and documentation. You can start down the AI path today. The simplest thing you can do in 2020 to be ready for AI is to document all of your processes, providing the necessary data for AI to digest when you do incorporate it into your business.
Getting the Visual with VR & AR
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can start at the design phase. Clients try their new home on for size by walking through a 3D rendering, subsequently reducing design changes during the building process. An on-site worker can provide project managers virtual tours of problems and progress. Safety training takes on a whole new dimension. VR/AR involves a more hands-on feel and employees retain the information better than just viewing videos.
Alexa and Siri Leave Home
The Internet of Things (IoT) finds Alexa and Siri slipping out our front doors and following us to work. For example, in prefabrication, IoT applications use RFID sensors to track every single piece of material in the project. Tired of wasting time looking for lost tools? Attach GPS sensors and your phone will tell you where to find them.
Employee fatigue resulting in accidents? As a result, equipment is damaged, follwed by downtime and injuries. IoT wearables monitor heart rate and compare it to location factors, such as altitude. So, your worker scaling scaffolding on the 13th floor may not notice he needs to take a break, but his IoT wearable will.
How can these new technologies change the face of construction tech? I will cover them in greater depth over the weeks to come. At the end of the series, ask yourself, “What one technology can I adopt to move my company into this brave new world? Who will help me make it happen?