Latest Construction Technology Trends

By Deepak Suvarna, Chief Projects Officer, Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd

Deepak Suvarna, Chief Projects OfficerThe Diffusion of Innovation Theory states that every technology goes through five phases in its journey of adoption by users. The first 2.5% are the innovators; the next 13.5% are early adopters; followed by 34% who are ‘early majority’; 34% of late majority; and finally, 16% laggards. Globally, the construction industry is seeing significant shifts in adoption of technology, resulting in increasingly ‘smarter’ and more efficient outcomes. Some of the key milestones in this journey towards a smart, data-driven and responsible ecosystem are listed below.

 

VR&AR:

Virtual Reality (VR) has been an emerging trend over the past few years and represents the ability to transport the user to an alternative realworld scenario, though there is a cost involved. VR offers immersive solutions for the building industry, enabling stakeholders to collaborate in the design process. For those companies who start using it now, it will transform how they project and build. In fact, many stakeholders believe that there will soon come a day when, instead of using safety goggles, the planning and plotting of sites will begin even before breaking ground.

 Construction companies have begun using VR and AR (Augmented Reality) technology to enhance worker safety training. This allows construction workers to visualize what they’re learning, instead of just reading about it. Firms also use apps that connect VR/AR technology to their BIM (Building Information Modelling) software. This enables virtual walkthroughs of a structure, which in turn facilitates informed design decisions earlier in the construction process, thus saving time and cutting costs.

Construction software and data ecosystem:

Real-time, data-driven collaboration software is already an essential component of the development process. However, its impact on the construction industry is expected to increase substantially in the near future. Integrating existing processes and systems into a single, fully-connected platform enhances project efficiency. Software solutions for different functions and disciplines in the course of construction of a project can now be easily combined, thus minimising delay, rework and communication gaps. A reliable, real-time collaboration software can serve as the digital backbone of the construction process from start to finish.

BIM:

BIM is one of the hottest construction technology trends. BIM technology is considered as the catalyst for fundamental change in how we manage, design and develop a construction project. There are many different levels of programming enabled through BIM, with 4D and 5D BIM as key examples.

 BIM improves accuracy in the building process and facilitates the exchange of key project information between stakeholders. As it evolves, BIM will make con struction projects more productive and affordable by including sustainability and safety as first principles. BIM proffers a detailed depiction of the project development in an open and collaborative environment. It helps designers produce 3D mock-ups of a planned structure that also incorporates cost and time information. Variables such as construction methods and materials can be fed into the software to compare the costs over time of differing techniques or materials used.

Prefabrication:

Prefabrication has come a long way and is gaining in popularity in response to increasing pressure on project budgets and timelines. Prefabrication helps to build the base elements in a controlled environment. It eliminates significant portions of in-site influence that potentially contribute to delays in the construction cycle. The quality of the development is optimal in a manufacturing/ factory production environment. In comparison to conventional construction, the prefabricated construction end product is always in line with specifications.

Modular construction:

Modular building construction is fast gaining popularity. Standardised processes have made it possible to assemble many components offsite. Ready-to-assemble units are shipped and assembled on site, resulting in improved control on material delivery and construction schedule. The standard modular structure helps to cut down on costs and keeps effective track on production, delivery and installation timelines.

Prefab and modular construction processes have the following benefits:

• Eco-friendly–Via recycling of leftover construction material. Traditional construction practices can result in large amounts of waste being sent to landfills.

• Economical -Via bulk discounts on materials.

• Quality standards - Since all the work occurs in a factory-controlled environment, there is lesser risk from problems typically associated with moisture, environmental hazards and dirt.

Drones:

Many construction sites are nowadays heavily dependant on the use of drones. Surveyors can assess a site in just a few minutes, whereas in the past it’d take them several weeks or months. As drone technology continues to evolve in precision of readings, the need for human involvement will decrease, as will the possibility of error. Companies were initially hesitant to use drones as they needed a controller. Today, as drone technology evolves, construction companies are embracing this technology.

Robotics:

In Robotics lies the future of the construction industry. Modular construction has started using this technology in a controlled factory environment. Robots laying bricks and tying rebars might emerge a common sight.

Advanced uses for GPS:

While GPS tracking solutions aren’t new, they’re now being used in more creative and resourceful ways: • Replacement of traditional surveying equipment

• Data for potential project sites can be quickly and accurately collected

• Project managers are also using GPS in fleet management at construction sites through devices that share accurate location co-ordinates

• It’s easier to find lost or stolen equipment through the use of maps that pinpoint the exact location of any of these items.

Green construction:

The real estate sector is increasingly adopting green building concepts. The concept of green construction involves using construction material and technology that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life cycle — from design and construction to operations, maintenance, renovation and demolition. It is also cost-efficient.

One trend is clear - the emphasis on real-time collaboration and communication. By deploying the technologies mentioned above, we can meet the demands of a rapidly urbanising world while being efficient, ensuring high quality and facilitating optimal utilisation of resources.

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