The face of the construction industry is changing dramatically as digital technologies transform the way we build, design and integrate in the built environment. Check out the latest ConTech trends that are shaping the construction industry.
1. AR & VR
Although uptake in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) has been somewhat slow in the construction industry, they are starting to gain momentum as a means of improving project efficiency,
VR is used, for example, by builders for visibility on architectural designs and 3D ecosystems to carve out design flaws and ensure there are fewer errors on projects.
AR, on the other hand, has the potential to be used on-site to meet the exact structure as was intended during the design process. It can improve project efficiency by cutting down construction time and reducing the risk of errors. But the technology still has a long way to go.
Amongst the exhibiting technologies at Construction Week was Igloo, a complete range of VR Tools consisting of immersive 360 projection technologies. Igloo works with practically any 3D modelling software, games engine, presentation tool, or image generator.
Another was Astralink, technology preventing construction errors in real time. A quality assurance platform for the construction industry, using AR technology to bridge the gap between 3D digital blueprints (BIM models) and real-life construction field work.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a technology revolutionising the construction industry. Advocates espouse the benefits of having everything controlled through a single access point, including data management functions and 3D models.
The technology, which is constantly evolving, offers a collaborative approach in what is currently a fragmented sector. It presents channels of communication across projects to all relevant stakeholders.
One of the biggest challenges will be to ensure that the workforce is BIM-savvy.
On show were some of the technologies leading the way in BIM including Allplan, BIM Collab, BIM Object, Graphisoft and Revizto.
Drone technology is advancing quickly as the emergence of machine intelligence allows these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to collate information on projects in areas humans would struggle.
Drones digitally map out sites through high-resolution photographs, which can be used in 3D models to increase accuracy, speed and eliminate health and safety hazards.
Monitoring workers, logics and deliveries are other functions that drones are also able to fulfil.
The technology is constantly improving as cameras and lenses capture higher quality images, sensors for monitoring evolve and communication software gets better.
During Digital Construction Week, Pix4D demonstrated its flagship product for construction, Pix4Dbim mapping software and the Crane Camera solution, a pioneering way to get drone data daily--without a drone--for construction site monitoring in 2D and 3D.
4. Construction Software
The acceptance of construction software as a keystone for the future of construction companies has allowed it to flourish of late.
This software now plays a vital part in allowing stakeholders valuable input in their decision-making processes, particularly when it comes to resource and project management.
Software is also making a prized contribution towards improving data (and data analytics) in an industry that has been traditionally struggled in this area.
Some of the construction software tools featuring at Digital Construction Week included REVU Bluebeam, Trimble, Viewpoint, Elecosoft and Topcon.
5. 3D Printing
3D printing, while still in its infancy, is seen by many as the future of construction and a solution to the global housing crisis.
A small-scale crane ‘the printer’ sees a computer-controlled sequential layering of concrete mixtures to create three-dimensional shapes. This can reduce time and costs of building new homes.
Part of the process currently consists of producing parts off-site and constructing the building on-site. The quality of the construction is largely dependent on the materials used though.
3D printing can serve as the answer to fill the housing needs of those impacted by natural disasters and for the poverty-stricken population globally.
HP's growing presence in the industry was seen at the show, demoing their 'Multi Jet Fusion' 3D printing technology.