Key Digital Technologies for the Construction Sector

Written by Rolly Canonce Oribiada, ADLSM

Key Digital Technologies for the Construction Sector

Written by Rolly Canonce Oribiada, ADLSM

by Rolly Canonce Oribiada, ADLSM

Over the last hundred years, most industries made significant gains on their progress lines. While construction sector lines remain flat. However, we are entering the progress line that is about to increase! What is the force driving this line? Digital Technology helps us improve quality, expedite delivery, keep our people safe, increase the bottom line.

Digital construction is the use and application of digital tools to improve the process of delivering and operating the built environment. In general, terms that will translate into making the delivery, operation and renewal of our built environment safer, more efficient and more collaborative. It will ensure that we get a better outcome at every stage of an asset’s lifecycle. As we look forward to another year of development and construction technology innovation, here are some tools and software that are driving the construction industry through the digital age:

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

BIM is again one of the hottest construction technology trends. It comes as no surprise if we take into account that the emergence of an open and highly collaborative data ecosystem is on the way. BIM technology could be the catalyst for a fundamental change in how we manage, design and develop a construction project. There are many different levels of programming enabled through BIM. Both 4D and 5D BIM are two representative examples in that direction.

From a general point of view, BIM will bring more accuracy to the building process and empower the exchange of important project information between the numerous stakeholder. Moreover, its further evolution is anticipated to make construction projects more productive and affordable by including revolutionary sustainability and safety measures.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Although virtual reality has been an emerging trend over the past few years, it is quickly growing outdated, especially when compared to augmented reality uses and benefits. This is the ability to visualize the real world through a camera lens. It’s something that’s bound to open many new opportunities for the construction industry even though it’ll come with a cost. Augmented reality (AR) is unlike virtual reality that can only replace the real world through a simulated environment. AR benefits local service providers, businesses, engineering, design, architecture, project management – and the entire construction team.

More and more companies are using Building Information Modeling (BIM) with augmented reality to make 3D blueprints come alive. Uploading a BIM model into their AR software and using a tablet or a pair of AR glasses would allow workers to have full-scale walkthroughs of the plan.

Augmented reality is set to be a part of this future. The technology will help builders visualize blueprints, maximize efficiency, and improve workplace safety. We’re already seeing AR in action. And with all the possibilities it brings to such a crucial industry, this tech can only keep growing.

Drones for Construction Sector

Drones and Unmanned Aerial vehicles have smoothly traversed from the commercial market to the construction industry for their innumerable benefits.

Drones are great tools for construction project management techniques. They can unlock the vast possibilities for image capture in engineering and construction applications or other situations where you need to monitor the progress of a large-scale project.

Drone technology has also bridged the communication gap between the offices and sites and assists with providing accurate and precise measurements. They are being used for conducting aerial surveys, inspections, health and safety inductions, creating progress reports, promotional photography, laser scanning and thermal image recording.

GPS for Construction Application

There are many technological advancements that it truly does not make sense to ignore them. This is very much the case when you consider GPS (Global Positioning Systems) that directly allow an employer to save money through the myriad of benefits that they provide. Because many construction crews are completely mobile, a GPS tracking service will guarantee that your back office can communicate with your staff at a moment’s notice, which is a lot more efficient than just using mobile devices.

Civil engineering works are often done in a complex and unfriendly environment, making it difficult for personnel to operate efficiently. The ability of GPS to provide real-time sub-meter/centimeter-level accuracy in a cost-effective manner has significantly changed the civil engineering industry. Construction firms are using GPS in many applications such as road construction, Earth moving, and fleet management.

Businesses, employers, and employees in any construction service business, whether it be HVAC, plumbing, electrical, or mechanical contractors any service-based construction software company can stand to benefit from using construction software with GPS capabilities. This technology can enhance a company’s fleet efficiency while allowing construction businesses to increase profits in the process.

Smart Equipment and Telematics

Telematics refers to the long-distance transmission of computer-based information. It has long been regarded as being the basis for tracking the GPS location of vehicles. The word ‘telematics’ is a compound term. It combines ‘tele’ – a prefix denoting remote communications (the prefix is derived from the Greek for ‘far off’, or ‘at a distance’) – and ‘informatics’, a discipline incorporating the practice of information processing.

In recent years, telematics has changed the face of a number of industries, with it driving major transformation in transport, construction and site excavation. The future for telematics is certainly bright. As businesses within the construction industry increasingly look to extend their telematics capabilities to track their vehicles, workforce, and assets, investing in telematics driven connected workflows, combined with deeper analytics systems, will reap many benefits.

Those that do not have visibility into the status of their assets to determine this will be much more prone to costly inefficiencies. These advanced workflows require a tight connection from the asset to the service management system and telematics is integral to providing this connection.

Wearable Technologies

When we say wearable construction innovations, we are talking about anything that a construction worker can wear that uses technology to improve performance or safety in some way. To combat death, injury and unplanned labor downtime, the construction industry has been employing wearable devices (hard hats, glasses, safety vests and boots) for decades.

Smart Glasses are wearable computer glasses that augment what a user sees by overlaying data or imagery. Microsoft’s HoloLens has become a major player, and a few others have dipped their toes in the market. XOEyeTechnologies offers a construction-specific version, with smart glasses geared toward training workers.
Safety helmets have always been a part of job site safety for several years. Though, back in the days, they only had one function– that is, to protect the wearer physically. However, with the recent innovations and advancements in technology, they are now capable of doing something more than that.

Bionic Suits

Helping to protect workers from manual handling injuries and the risk of hand-arm vibration, these mechanical suits that “augment” with human operatives can also deliver considerable gains in productivity. It uses no power, but provides ergonomic upper body and arm support that makes objects seem to weight much less than they do, and enables a worker to operate in a factory line posture without fatigue, according to the suit makers.

AI and Machine Learning

As the internet of things continues to pull more and more information, construction firms will need tools to manage all this data. This is where machine Learning is becoming increasingly crucial. Systems that aggregate and organize data from the connected worksite are going to be vital as construction firms become more reliant on real-time information for efficient project management.

AI and machine learning in construction are going to become a linchpin for collating and analyzing multiple streams of data from an integrated digital workflow. Properly trained AI can categorize data faster than a human operator, cutting the time needed to get the clearest picture of issues on a job site. As time progresses we’ll see an increase in wearable construction technology. The future of wearable construction technology is endless, products beyond our wildest dreams will permeate the future.

Conclusion

Construction firms are starting to come around on digital technologies adoption. Companies that are researching and implementing technology are reaping rewards with increased productivity, better collaboration, and completing projects on time and using less money than planned — resulting in higher profit margins.


References

Adam Higgins. (2019).“5 Major Construction Technology Trends to Watch in 2019”. Retrieved from https://connect.bim360.autodesk.com/construction-technology-innovation-2019, accessed 10/08/2019.

Crystal Wong Yan Jing, ADPSM. (2019).“Digital Technology for Construction Value Chain”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/digital-technology-construction-value-chain, accessed 04/09/2019.

Dan Taylor. (2018).“Wearable Construction Innovations: Where It Makes Sense, and Where It Doesn’t”. Retrieved from https://blog.capterra.com/wearable-construction-innovations, accessed 09/09/2019.

Gergana Mileva. (2019).“How Augmented Reality Is Transforming the Construction Industry”. Retrieved from http://www.constructionworld.org/gps-technology-can-improve-construction-service-business, accessed 05/09/2019.

John Cameron. (2018).“How to Manage Your Construction Operations With Telematics, Retrieved from: https://constructible.trimble.com/construction-industry/how-to-manage-your-construction-operations-with-telematics, accessed 09/09/2019.

John Hall. (2018).“Top 10 Benefits of BIM in Construction”. Retrieved from https://connect.bim360.autodesk.com/benefits-of-bim-in-construction, accessed 03/09/2019.

Peter Davidson.(2018).“Top 10 Construction Technology Trends for 2019”. Retrieved from https://geniebelt.com/blog/top-10-construction-technology-trends-for-2019, accessed 05/09/2019.

Susan Tan, DPSM. (2018).“The Impact of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality on Procurement”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/impact-virtual-reality-augmented-reality-procurement, accessed 10/09/2019.

The Constructor. (2019).“Embracing Digitalization in Construction Industry”. Retrieved from https://theconstructor.org/digital-tools/digitalization-construction-industry/26291, accessed 28/08/2019.

About the Author: Rolly Canonce Oribiada has substantive experiences in the field of procurement and logistics management, specifically in the construction tunneling sector. He holds a Bachelor degree in Commerce, as well as a Diploma in Procurement and Supply Management (SIPMM). Rolly is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). He completed the Advanced Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (ADLSM) on October 2019 at SIPMM Institute.

Top