The Future of Technology in Construction
A major hallmark of the Covid-19 pandemic is the increased use of technology. All industries and services had to consider different technologies so that their businesses could continue functioning. The construction industry was no exception.
Although these technologies are not new, they may be able to help construction companies recover more quickly from the effects of the pandemic by increasing productivity, improving safety and maintaining a schedule and the budget.
The following three technologies exemplify what construction companies can use to enhance productivity.
Augmented reality (AR) allows project leaders to visualize progress in real time. Using AR, the project manager can superimpose the proposed plans over a picture or livestream of the actual worksite to create a three-dimensional (3D) model of the project. This allows potential problems to be fixed before they incur unnecessary costs.
AR technology can be used on desktops or mobile devices. The latter makes it a particularly valuable tool, especially during these disruptive times.
AR wearables can increase safety and efficiency. These can be used to enable wearers to operate in a hands-free manner and can prompt the wearer to take a photo or make an audio note as they move around a worksite.
The cost of AR apps range from free for some basic ones (with add-ons available) to more than $300,000 for complex custom-built apps.
Repetitive tasks in construction can result in worker injuries. Robotics may change that in the future. Robotics work best, however, in a controlled environment such as a factory. In construction, 3D printing robots can be used to build entire buildings following preprogrammed instructions, but they may have more difficulty completing tasks performed in more uncertain landscapes. Nevertheless, robotics have been used for certain tasks in bridge-building, masonry and demolition.
Drones and exoskelotons are other types of robotics being explored for use in construction. Exoskeletons can help humans exceed their natural weight-bearing capability. This feature would be helpful in certain situations, such as at locations that are inaccessible to heavy equipment. Drones can provide a real-time overhead view of a job site, which can provide valuable information about supplies and progress.
Construction companies should be aware of the ways robotics are being used and monitor new developments. Once robotics take a firm hold, they have the potential to revolutionize the industry.
Training also has gone virtual as a result of the pandemic. Although virtual training has been used in construction for some time, distance restrictions have increased its need.
Construction tasks can be complicated, and new or inexperienced operators can benefit from virtual training that walks them through these processes. The cost of these 3D training simulators vary, but licenses generally are in the $11,000–$25,000 range.
As always, budget is a factor. Contact us today for a cost-benefit analysis to get the information you need to make an informed decision.