Technology is advancing at break-neck speed but so far, the construction industry has stayed relatively impervious to it. This is often put down to the very slim margins that developers work to which makes the investment in new technology seem too high a risk.
However, new technologies exist which will bring construction into the future, improving productivity and reducing errors across the house building process.
From artificial intelligence to drone tech, construction companies are taking on new technology and observing major improvements which testify to its power to transform how builders work.
Studies using motion sensor technology have shown that experienced bricklayers’ form when building is vastly different and much more effective than strategies taught to apprentices.
A difference in process and body movement means experienced workers are able to do work twice as fast with half the effort in ways that were previously un-measurable and there for un-transferrable. Now, by capturing the movements of bricklayers wearing motion sensor suits, these techniques can be observed, plotted and then taught on.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo believe that this will reduce wear-and-tear injuries bricklayers often experience throughout their career and keep them working productively. While many speculate about artificial intelligence removing the need for humans on building sites, motion sensor applications show how technology can benefit workers without threatening their jobs.
One of the most popular new technologies for construction companies, drones, have a myriad of benefits for house building developers.
Commercial drones can be equipped with cameras, allowing them to easily and regularly monitor sites. Rather than policing the activity of labourers, this allows managers and stakeholders to view the progress of the project in real time, making time predictions much more reliable.
Additionally, using drones before a project begins can help with identifying dangers without putting human workers at risk. Thanks to state of the art mapping and location technology, potential sites can be surveyed from above and potential dangers can be identified and eliminated with as little risk as possible.
Through this same mapping technology, fly-over drones can survey resource levels throughout the life of a project and allow site managers to assess the need for further orders much more accurately, helping to limit costs, smooth out work flow and stick closely to time predictions.
Virtual Reality technology
One of the more science fiction level applications, virtual reality technology is encouraging developers and architects to be much more ambitious. VR and other 3D visualisation technology is already being used by architects to quickly and easily design and redesign to briefs.
VR and 3D work is also encouraging unlikely candidates in video game designers to make the switch to construction, lending a new creativity to architectural production. Many cite the higher average pay and wider range of opportunities as important pull factors in the move.
House building giant Balfour Beatty, in their Innovation 2050 project, believe buyers and stakeholders will be able to experience a 3D visualisation of a show home before ground is even broken using advanced VR headsets.
Through tailored algorithms, AI could make architect’s lives much easier through automatically generating designs based around dimensions and brief objectives. By inputting dimensions and requirements, AI design programs could create a group of quick plans for the architect to choose from and edit personally, saving a huge amount of basic design work on each new project.
While with machine learning, AI programs could build a database of previous project plans and processes, enabling developers to quickly generate designs for new projects based on past work, what went well and what went wrong. By identifying relationship between past locations, size limits and project objectives, AI would give architects much more realistic time projections which could be vital selling points during bidding.
As the new hot topic in construction, AI and VR are sure to take on an increasingly important role in the process, improving productivity and reducing costs while also helping to protect labourers and not simply edge them out of their jobs.
This article was written by Damon Culbert from Lift Mini Hire Ltd., provider of mini cranes in the UK