According to The National Construction Equipment Convention (NCEC)
Digital technologies have become indispensable to large-scale construction projects, enhancing safety and efficiency and helping contractors keep to their budgets.
Here are 10 technologies that will be increasingly adopted in commercial and civil construction in 2018.
1. Building Information Modelling (BIM)
BIM offers more than the ability to view 3D blueprints. These interactive models contain a wealth of detailed information that can be useful for every stage of a structure’s life cycle, from planning through construction and ongoing maintenance. The latest systems offer real-time sharing and 5D modelling, incorporating costing and time.
2. Augmented reality (AR)
AR isn’t just for video games. This technology has many practical benefits for construction workers, such as overlaying proposed designs onto a physical space for a handy visual guide, highlighting safety hazards in a wearer’s field of vision or simply overlaying useful information such as the time and GPS data. AR technology can only reach its full potential as it becomes more affordable and sites become better connected.
3. 3D printing
3D printing has been manufacturing homes and apartments for several years, and this technology is now being used for infrastructure such as bridges built by autonomous robots. This production method saves materials, waste, labour and money while improving safety, and the resulting structures are just as strong as those built traditionally.
Robotic arms are used in tandem with 3D printing and traditional construction methods such as bricklaying. As the technology matures, robots will be seen more widely in construction, demolition and excavation projects of all sizes.
5. Driverless vehicles
Self-driving trucks keep workers away from hazards on construction sites, controlled from a safe distance by skilled technicians. Autonomous vehicles can be used for transporting materials and personnel or for drilling, dozing and other tasks.
6. Laser scanning
Laser technology has made site assessment more accurate and efficient. Lasers use point cloud data to capture a highly detailed impression of sites that can be integrated with BIM and CAD software to streamline the design process.
Also used for site assessment and inspections, drones have already replaced traditional surveying practices in many Australian companies. Capable of capturing high quality images and video, drones save time and labour and reduce errors. They can also go to places workers can’t.
8. Wearable technology
Mobile phone apps have become indispensable on construction sites, but wearable devices are increasingly offering a more convenient, hands-free alternative for simple functions such as health trackers and GPS. More advanced and specialised smart equipment includes helmets with 3D overlays and 360-degree cameras, GPS-enabled vests, and smart glasses that can receive and display instructions.
9. Construction exoskeletons
Exoskeletons will become a more common sight on work sites over the next few years, with market research firm Arcluster forecasting the global exoskeleton market to grow from $225.3 million in 2016 to $3.75 billion by 2021. Both powered and unpowered versions reduce the stress and strain of lifting and other tasks involving heavy equipment, reducing the risk of injuries and improving productivity.
10. Internet of Things (IoT)
A wide range of equipment on job sites now integrates sensors that collect and transmit data on diagnostics, fuel usage and other metrics. Even workers wear sensors that enable communication and monitor their location and surroundings to help keep them safe. As more connected devices give project managers a holistic view of what’s happening on their sites, the construction industry will continue to lead the way in the Internet of Things and practical use of big data.