Technological Advances in the Construction Industry
Technology has given way to a great number of innovative advances in almost every known industry, including construction. In recent years, this industry has been revolutionised with emerging solutions that serve to improve the quality, aesthetics, sustainability and profitability of work and projects.
Technological innovations have not only modified the process and the techniques used in the construction of buildings, they also affect the way in which industry businesses interact with clients and providers. So, where they were once seen on a flat blueprint, now it is not uncommon to visualise the final construction details using virtual reality glasses.
The Potential of Technology
Thanks to current technology, it is possible to generate added value and implement techniques that optimise efficiency and productivity during every stage of a project, from planning to construction. The construction industry, which has always been more traditional, started to take advantage of the benefits of budding innovation, adding drones to their ranks as well as using 3D printing, artificial intelligence, eco-friendly materials, augmented reality, etc.
- 3D printing: Although it may seem like something in the distant future, the use of 3-dimensional printing in the world of industrial designers and builders is actually a current reality that translates into two big improvements: costs are reduced and work time is reduced. Also, the structures built with this technique do not require formwork, which drastically reduces the amount of waste during work. This has a positive impact on the environment.
- Drones: Within the construction industry, drones are extremely helpful for carrying out land inspections easily and quickly. They not only use an advanced optical system for capturing detailed images of the area, they also commonly have integrated computer systems which gather and send useful information in real time. With the data gathered, builders can create simulations before building, making it possible to formulate multiple hypotheses and designs beforehand that reduce the risk of making mistakes.
- Virtual reality and augmented reality: Until relatively recently, the design of virtual environments was only used in the entertainment business. However, virtual reality has evolved from video games and simulations to virtual blueprints for architectural trials. This not only saves the time and costs involved in the elaboration of mockups and architecture models, it is also possible to pre-visualise the final result. On the other hand, mobile phone apps and software for augmented reality help to obtain precise measurements with virtual tools using smartphones.
- Intelligent equipment: Nowadays there are many experiments being carried out with robotic material to construct machines that function independently. Robots used within construction are currently working together with humans to both minimise fatigue and increase productivity. Levellers, excavators, and drillers are among those that can be classified as intelligent machinery.
- Eco-friendly materials: Sustainability and being environmentally responsible are two tendencies that are quickly gaining more attention in the industry. As a result, it is increasingly more important to design materials with the least amount of environmental impact. It is not enough to simply recycle materials but also use them in new and innovative ways. One example can be seen in the use of printing toner to prepare an eco-friendly asphalt mix or using recycled plastic to coat different surfaces.
- The internet of things: Constructing smart or intelligent buildings is another current reality within the industry. These infrastructures are more sustainable, they can control and regulate the use of energy, reduce the dependency on electric energy and minimise carbon dioxide emissions.
- Data management: Just like in any other area, the construction industry is making use of big data. Construction companies and real estate agents are taking advantage of data management to understand better the market behaviour and their public, clients and costumers. These days, information is key for successfully carrying out a project and the increase in digital data collection has had a positive impact on the industry. Smart buildings gather information that makes it possible to evaluate the status of the construction work and detect points of improvement to increase efficiency.
Undoubtedly, the use of technology provides great advantages in the construction sector. The adoption of these new and efficient forms of work will allow companies that perform this activity to work in a more effective and personalized way, so as to answer the demands of their customers. In addition, the inclusion of technology is a sign of growth and competitiveness.
Considering all this, the best way to capitalise and take advantage on the technological revolution would be to integrate innovation into the previously established system and construction process. This is key to support human resources and to explore other work forms. All of this will work to open up new pathways for testing materials and techniques that improve construction efficiency and transforms them responsible structures with the environment.