The construction industry is teeming with change. Sustainability is a major topic of conversation, green technology is growing to become an expectation, there’s an increase in modular projects, improving safety equipment, technology, as well as a dwindling labor force and rising material costs.
Typically, the construction industry is viewed as resistant to change, particularly when it comes to technology. Yet, drones, 3D printing, AR, building information monitoring, shipping container housing, and mobile technology are growing in popularity. Here are some of the most exciting trends shaking up the industry.
1. Building information modeling (BIM)
BIM is the process of both creating and managing a project’s information from start to finish. Think of it as a 3D model. It has been used by architects and engineers for quite some time, and the construction industry is finally getting on board. While there is no blanket mandate, it’s certainly recommended. And when there is a government contract on the table, it is considered essential. As well as BIM, the industry has also seen an increase in the use of VR and AR, particularly when it comes to designing projects and managing job sites.
“Robots will replace us!” No doubt you’ve heard people in the industry saying this, and there have been a lot of predictions about robots and the role they will play in our future. The reality has been much different – and it’s good news for the industry. The good news is, they’re not here to take over the world and even the World Economic Forum has suggested that the construction industry would embrace robots.
Yes, robots can lay bricks, roads, and a range of other tasks the human workforce tackles on a construction site. But it isn’t replacing the human workforce, it’s simply changing the way the human workforce operates. Robots in the workforce improve the quality and time of builds. They can also be used in building demolition, which may slow the process down a little, but it is far safer than having humans involved in the process.
3. 3D Printing
Construction companies all over the world have explored 3D printing and Australia is no different. Having the ability to prefabricate components, whether on-site or offsite, has a variety of benefits. Firstly, it reduces the risk of waste. Secondly, the process is no longer restricted or hampered by shift patterns. And thirdly, there are cost benefits. As of right now, you can print an entire house in less than a day. That’s incredible! According to reports, the 3D printing market was on track to be worth over $55 million by 2021.
This next trend could be a real game-changer as it has incredible potential benefits for the construction workforce. Often, laborers carry heavier loads than the human body should handle. And although in the industry, this has become the norm, it’s certainly not a healthy norm and of course, it has a negative impact on the human body. When you consider the heavyweight over the course of many years on the job, you can imagine the knee problems, backaches, and other joint and muscular issues that laborers often experience.
Enter exoskeletons. Their introduction means a reduction in lost man-hours due to injury, and it also means more work can be done with fewer workers. An exoskeleton is a wearable machine, featuring motorized joints, that increases the ability to carry heavy loads. It minimizes strain, protecting against injury. It disperses weight and corrects posture. Truly a game-changer. The good news for the workforce is that it requires a human operator. So, no robot is coming to replace you. You’re simply getting a technological superpower. It’s a bit like having your own original IronMan costume and getting paid to use it.
In the last few decades, regulations have changed and the construction industry now places a huge emphasis on improved sustainability and the reduction of their environmental impact. America is, in turn, undergoing a green office revolution, with 4,879 or 13.8% of all commercial office buildings across the 30 largest U.S. office markets now ‘green certified’. While this is commendable, due to the pandemic and the remote working revolution, many office buildings are empty. In fact, Manhattan, NY now has the most available office space available since 2003.
Therefore, as well as a growing need for ‘green’ commercial and residential real estate, and for optimized energy efficiency, low to zero carbon emissions, and a focus on better-performing materials, there’s also a need to redesign offices to meet new health requirements.
Sustainability has a huge future ahead and the technologies are improving every day. Whatever your industry, keeping on top of the trends will keep you a step ahead of your competitors.