Technology was the second leading investment sector in 2022. Whether it’s a smartphone app, robotic equipment, or even 3D printing, technology is helping to revolutionize the construction industry.
Construction management tools like Bridgit are changing how the industry works by addressing key industry pain points.
Below, we look closely at emerging technologies in the construction industry and how project managers can use them to their advantage.
The Role of Technology in the construction industry
Technology impacts many facets of the construction industry, from materials and workforce management to forecasting and revolutionizing the job site. Let’s learn more.
1. New methods and materials
The influx of technology in the construction industry starts with materials and methods. Technological advancements have changed the way most things are done in the industry.
For example, new technologies have brought about new materials and different ways of usage. Here are some examples:
- Concrete recycling – A few decades ago, there was no concept of concrete recycling. It was a costly and time-consuming process to build new structures from scratch. Today’s technological advances have made it possible to recycle materials from existing structures and turn them into new ones.
- 3D printing – 3D printing technology has revolutionized the construction industry. 3D printers are now used to print materials of precise measurements to save money and prevent waste. More importantly, 3D printing is taking prefabrication to a new level, allowing construction industry stakeholders to print everything from walls to entire structures.
- Eco-friendly materials – Recycled steel, bamboo, straw bales, precast concrete, and plant-based polyurethane rigid form have emerged as eco-friendly materials for construction. As technology advances, we will see more use cases of these materials in conventional buildings.
2. Technology on the job site
Technological innovation is not limited to materials and methods. Rather, it has also found its way to construction sites, where you can use the following tools to improve productivity and enhance safety.
- Drones – With drones, construction teams can capture aerial shots to gain an accurate understanding of the progress of a project. Drones are also used to survey land and inspect hard-to-reach sites.
- Robotics – Robotics has found its way into the construction sector with an aim to reduce human error and increase efficiency. Autonomous bulldozers, concrete robots, and other robotic equipment are being used to streamline operations. The National Digital Construction Technology Innovation Center in Wuhan introduced the first autonomous bulldozer in 2022, which will soon become a norm.
- Task management systems – Task management systems like workforce planning tools also make construction sites more efficient and productive. Construction managers can use these tools for budget allocation, resource management, payroll management, project scheduling, etc.
- Live construction drawing – Builders and project managers also have access to construction drawing management software to improve collaboration with external and internal stakeholders. This software synchronizes communication and facilitates idea sharing.
- Wearable tech – Smart watches and other wearable technology helps managers see how much time the workforce spends on the job site. These tools also allow project managers to monitor the progress of work and detect potential risks in real time.
3. Forecasting and predictive analysis
Info-Tech Research Group study shows that 44% of private sector companies will invest in artificial intelligence systems in 2023. Construction companies can also benefit from machine learning and artificial intelligence in the following ways.
- Predictive analysis – Machine learning uses past data to predict the occurrence of an event. For example, some systems can show you when you’ll need more material on the construction site. Similarly, some predictive analysis systems detect risks on the job site.
- Demand forecasting – Construction companies can also use AI-driven systems to determine material demand for the future. It can help provide insights into resource usage and budget allocation.
4. Augmented and virtual reality
Gone are the days when you’d need a stack of papers and PowerPoint presentations to show project progress or plans to stakeholders. Augmented and virtual reality have changed the game.
Construction managers can demonstrate project progress using immersive VR experiences. For instance, they can show a 3D version of the building under construction.
The main benefit of virtual reality is that it does not require task completion. You can show potential challenges or designs even before construction has started. It helps construction teams plan the project better and save time and resources.
5. Building Information Modeling
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a recent innovation in the construction industry. It has laid the foundation of digital transformation in the industry by allowing construction stakeholders to generate a building’s digital representatives. Viewers can use this information to track the functions and physical characteristics of the building.
BIM helps in:
- Making better choices about fittings and materials
- Informing maintenance schedules
- Reducing the number of on-site errors and mistakes
- Enhancing safety on-site by providing a detailed risk assessment
- Optimizing the efficiency of the project
How to leverage technology on construction sites?
With the rate of tech growth, you can expect to see more tech advancements in the construction industry. But how do you leverage them to their full potential?
The key is to determine which technologies you need. Do you need workforce planning and management software? Is your job site large enough to need driverless vehicles? Do you have the budget for autonomous bulldozers?
Knowing your budget, preferences, and project scope is important. Once you have this information, you can decide which tech and tools you need.
The next step is to learn how to use these tools. For instance, if you’re using software, use its onboarding guide to learn how to make the most of it. The same applies to other tools – make sure to read the user manual before starting.
Technology will only get better and smarter in the coming years. The construction industry can increase its efficiency and reduce project risks by using task management tools, drones, BIM, and other technologies.
The smart choice is to adopt these technologies and get better at their usage. It is the only way to stay competitive in the field and keep pace with industrial growth.