The Tech Trends Reshaping the Construction Industry
PAPERLESS CONSTRUCTION SITE
Written by: Niels van Hall, Key Account Manager – Enterprise Sector, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK
As new, innovative solutions come to the market, the construction industry is on the precipice of a new wave of digital transformation, that will fundamentally change how projects get built on-site using insights, automation, and AI.
In recent years, digital transformation has shifted from a movement to a necessity across all industries.
In construction, the world of ‘ConTech’ and ‘PropTech’ is constantly expanding as new, innovative solutions come to the market. These big ideas are helping construction companies to embrace digital transformation, from digitising workflows to fundamentally transforming how projects get built on-site using insights, automation, and AI.
So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest technology trends shaping the construction industry…
When working on large projects, it is always helpful to have an eye in the sky.
These flying friends help workers to improve project reporting clarity, track timelines, and streamline inspections, with new software and AI technology helping to expand their applications each day.
One of the primary applications of drones forms the foundation of any effective project: site analysis.
Using drones to survey an initial site ahead of a build makes for a far faster, easier process than traditional surveying, and this efficiency allows teams to improve the regularity of site analysis.
The more accurate and accessible data that regular drone surveillance offers helps to keep multiple teams on target, supports workers in improving communication, and can be vital for dispute resolution.
Much like drones, 3D printing has a growing number of applications for the construction sector. At the design stage, 3D-printed models allow planners and architects to communicate their vision, whilst assessing structural needs from an early stage.
However, with 3D printing technology being used to build an earthquake-proof mansion in China in 2016, it has the potential to bring value directly to the construction site.
By 3D printing specific materials or structural components for a build themselves, construction teams cut delivery times and reduce their dependence on a supply chain for a project. Similarly, while conventional building methods often over-order on materials, 3D printing allows team to reduce material waste by only using exactly the materials that a component needs. This makes the construction process easier to plan for and a lot less wasteful.
Businesses are now able to create an entire building from scratch using #3DPrinting, giving workers the ability to quickly source materials onsite. This enables workers to be increasingly self-sufficient and further reduces the pressures introduced by labour shortages.
Data analytics and IoT
From construction to education, business leaders use invaluable data analytics to improve operations and drive their future strategies. It is no surprise, then, that construction is rapidly adopting the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of internet-facing objects that relay data to a central system, to gain real-time information at every stage of a build.
Connected drones, on-site vehicles, and even smart hardhats that track the activity of workers help to monitor progress across the construction site and feed real-time data to managers. These insights are vital for safety and help site managers to project accurate timelines with improved efficiency, but they also support workers in maintaining workflows without disruption. Connected tools and smart batteries in smart sensing devices, for example, monitor maintenance needs to prevent unplanned downtimes.
AR, or Augmented Reality, and VR (Virtual Reality), have been disrupting the technology space, with seemingly endless applications. 18 months on from the launch of Meta’s metaverse, every industry has been exploring what these enhanced visualisation technologies can offer their current processes.
Both AR and VR enable project managers, designers, workers and key stakeholders to visualise projects long before their completion. Whether these virtual spaces are being used to foresee logistical problems in the design stage, or to boost commercial interest and to promote project goals to local councils and prospective buyers, the ability to “walk through” a completed project ahead of time offers huge potential to the industry.
Looking towards the future, however, VR also enables businesses to attract and train new field employees in the midst of a skilled labour shortage. Far safer and more flexible than inviting interested students and apprentices into construction sites, VR might just be the answer on how to inspire the next generation.
Constructive transformation supported by TOUGHBOOK
At Panasonic TOUGHBOOK, we have worked with our construction customers for decades and have supported them in their journey towards digitalisation and away from paper-based processes.
Our connected, intelligent laptops and tablets are built to survive the challenges of a construction site. The long battery life enables devices to be used for those longer shifts, whilst the sophistication of our displays allows for critical information to be accessed regardless of the climate, whether it’s the glaring sun or pounding rain. And when construction workers return to the office, they can seamlessly pick-up where they left their work, with no data interruptions.
With the ability to incorporate custom software and feed into wider data analytics programs, Panasonic devices are designed to support our customers as they embrace the best and newest innovations in the sector, whilst empowering workers with a trusted name in tech.
These technology trends carry the potential to improve sustainability and offer a real competitive advantage to those who thoughtfully adopt them. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the industry may look like in the next few decades.
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