The construction industry has always been slow on the uptake of new technologies. This is not from a lack of want or effort, quite the opposite. The sector has been keen to evolve, from perfecting construction site broadband to the use of robotics.
However, it is the nature of the construction industry that has prevented the implementation of new technologies for some years. Health, safety and accuracy are imperative within construction to keep all parties safe and ensure the lifespan of a building is as good as possible.
There is no room for errors, technical issues and bugs within technology on a construction site and during the design process. This has led to new technologies being utilised in other sectors, while construction has had to patiently wait for initial bugs to be ironed out.
However, 2020 has seen some vast improvements and the pandemic is leading to faster and more efficiency changes.
Below, we look at some of the technologies that are finally reaching the high standards of the construction industry and how they are shaping the sector.
The basis of any project is good communication between all parties involved. Previously, construction sites would be the victim to poor internet connections and unreliable mobile data.
Broadband would be considered too costly or installation times would render this redundant, but this is changing.
Now construction site wifi has been altered to give the best service possible. Installation time is taking only a fraction of what was seen just a few years ago and projects can run much smoother than the construction site 4G was relied on.
For short-term projects, 5G is providing much faster speeds than its predecessors and allowing a reliable construction site internet service.
3D printers always could provide bespoke pieces for construction, however, lack of training on-site and software requirements has meant it is only recently that these are becoming a standard.
Having a 3D printer on-site allows tailored items and even tools to be printed when required. Not only does this cut costs, but also reduces wait time on delivery and even reduces carbon emissions for projects by eliminating the need for delivery vehicles on the roads.
Smart, wearable devices are not uncommon for personal use but they are becoming more frequent on construction sites.
Smart devices can quickly alert workers if they have accidentally entered a risk zone and tell them to leave before they are placed in danger. These can also be used to track footfall, removing the time-consuming paper tasks for site managers and ensuring no human error is made.
Throughout the pandemic, this has also been helping workers maintain social distancing, without it being a distraction from everyday tasks. Wearable wrist devices can quickly tell staff when they are less than 2m away from each other.
Drones & Robotics
The monotonous task for staff members of having to complete relative tasks can be tiresome, not to mention a waste of resources when these minds can be used elsewhere.
Robots can be programmed to complete these, not only are these cheaper than workers but are often more accurate and faster. Masonry robotics are becoming more popular across the board.
Demolition robots have been proven to be much safer than their human counterparts, they are slower but are also considerably cheaper. Meaning the workforce can concentrate on more difficult tasks at hand.
Drones are being utilised to fly in tools and supplies at a click of a button, while their cameras can also be used to assess the worksite, providing a full overview for managers and even more extensive risk assessments being completed.
By making payment via blockchain technology, such as Bitcoin, all parties involved are protected and payment is held securely.
This leads to full transparency, funds are held until the contract is fully completed and satisfied when both parties are happy and in agreement, this can be released immediately.
This means contractors are being paid on time for their work and clients are not left out of pocket from uncompleted jobs.
Milestones can even be set so partial payments can be released after certain elements are completed, this means that businesses can feel more financially stable and not worry about paying workers and suppliers when the bulk sum is paid at the end, instead they can have a steady flow of income throughout the project.
It’s an exciting year for the construction industry, as one of the only sectors not hugely impacted by COVID-19, this has allowed more concentration on adapting and improving technologies while others have been placed on pause.
Technology is increasing at a huge rate and it is always exciting to see where construction technology will be in a few decades, years or even months!