The construction industry is hugely innovative, despite popular conceptions. As new technologies develop to make things faster and easier, construction is quick to adopt those advances to reduce costs, increase safety, and improve the way the industry operates.
These five technologies are being adopted by the industry, and they’re making waves as they revolutionize the way things are done.
1. 3D Printing
The technology for 3D printing has been around for a few years, but it’s only recently become affordable. As costs continue to decrease, expect 3D printing to become more commonplace. Essentially, you can download or design a blueprint and then send it to a special printer. The printer uses powdered plastic or metal to “print” the object.
How is it being used in the construction industry? Earlier this year, a company printed an entire treehouse, and experts are now imagining that, in a few years’ time, it will be possible to print entire buildings, such as houses. In fact, people are already experimenting with this: There’s a fully operational office building in Dubai, 3D-printed concrete houses in China, and low-income housing in California.
The major issue right now is quality control. But as more people get on board, 3D-printed buildings will continue to improve.
Drones are fairly controversial; people argue about whether or not they should be used for military missions. There’s also disagreement about how civilians should use these unmanned flying vehicles.
They’re less problematic in the construction industry, where they’ve been adopted for several different reasons and functions. Drones can transmit real-time images from a construction site, which helps improve safety. Drones can also measure progress on a site much more swiftly than human surveyors can. They can also help construction projects save money and reduce waste; some $160 billion of construction materials are wasted every year in the US!
Drones offer more accurate measurements and faster reporting, which can help purchasers time their buying and delivery of different materials, meaning less waste at every construction site.
3. Green Products and Processes
The construction industry is going green! With construction picking up steam in the US and Canada, it’s little surprise there’s been a focus on going green. The industry is often wasteful, leading not only to financial losses, but also to piles of materials in dumpsites. A greener industry has plenty of benefits for everyone.
Customers are the driving force behind this shift, as they demand more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings. Better insulation, for example, helps buildings retain heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer, resulting in less intensive energy use.
Even paint is a potential site for going green: It can be specially designed to reduce emissions from organic compounds, creating a better indoor environment with cleaner air.
4. Mobile Technology
Just about every industry uses mobile technology these days, and the construction industry is no exception. The adoption of mobile tech has allowed for the integration of job sites. Apps and smartphones, along with drones, provide better information sooner. This seamless information flow allows construction companies to streamline their projects and processes, allowing workers and materials to move among sites as needed.
The integration of various sites allows them to work together. If one site has leftover material, workers can send it over to another site, instead of simply tossing it in the garbage. Workers can also move among sites and communicate with each other quickly and easily.
Prefabrication isn’t anything new to the construction industry. What is new, however, are the techniques and technologies employed. An example is 3D printing, discussed above. Construction has seen a big boost in prefab (or modular) construction, and the trend continues into 2017 as technologies continue to make it an even better option.