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When we look back over the last fifty years, through all the booms and busts, the construction industry has always championed innovation. Today, advances in various technologies are re-thinking the industry and much of the ideas that were once thought of as sci-fi gimmicks have made their way into the commercial construction sector. These are the trends you should keep your eye on this year:
The interest in offsite construction, both modular and prefabrication, keeps on growing. Building in a controlled environment is a big draw for most clients. It means safer, more efficient work with no weather delays. It also eliminates the need for workers to work in challenging settings – such as great heights – the amount of potential hazardous health and safety risks are greatly lowered. From this, construction experts expect to see a greater global uptake of modular construction of 6% by 2022. Technology company Katerra, is playing its part in this redefinition of the construction industry with its sourcing and handling of prefabricated materials. They were founded in 2015 and already valued at over $1 billion.
Virtual Reality is still a new technology and in its early stages of development. While it’s unlikely to be solely relied upon in the construction industry for some time, it’s becoming used more widely in the sector. VR is a very attractive prospect: It can provide virtual walkthroughs in order to pitch project ideas to clients, and it could be used to give safety training to workers. VR could also be used to prepare workers for certain machines through the simulation and it could help them learn more about the structure before construction begins. There is a huge potential for education and learning with VR. Planning could also be improved, and it could be an efficient testing method to see if a project is viable or a great way of testing how people utilise a structure – for example, VR could prove a method for collecting data about where how people traverse across a space (footfall).
Robotic technology continues to grow in the construction industry. Its arrival in the sector has been slow, but they are starting to change the way projects are carried out. MIT researchers have created a robot system that can 3D print the basic design of a building. The system uses foam moulds filled with concrete to form a finished structure. This approach could provide faster and cheaper building construction. The benefits of such technology are massive.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things encompasses everything connected to the internet. It’s expected IOT will breakout in 2018, with nearly 20 million devices connected to IOT by 2020. Many companies are implementing IOT technology into their workflows, as it has a number of benefits. If you can connect any machine to the web, workers will be able to give it instructions remotely. This allows machines to operate in hazardous areas and could pave the way for more efficient equipment servicing and repair. Sensors in machines could send information if there’s a problem, so workers can fix machines more promptly or before they break. With everything connected, smartphones, tablets and mobiles phones will likely become incredibly powerful and versatile devices. This could lead to improved communication and increased productivity.
2017 was a rough year for construction, with Brexit having an undeniable impact on the industry here in the UK. But with these impressive construction trends on the agenda, 2018 might be the year of further innovation.
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