As the national and global economies continue to boom in this decade, so has the need for new and innovative technology in the construction industry. New technology and trends have kept up with this rise in demand, and in the following year alone, the use of these trends will continue to increase in both usage and adoption. According to Research and Markets, the global construction industry is expected to reach an estimated $10.5 trillion by 2023, and it is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2018 to 2023, a pace that is quickly antiquating pen, paper and spreadsheets.
Here is a list of the ten most important construction technology trends to watch for in 2018:
1. Augmented Reality
While virtual reality was an emerging trend over the past few years, this technology is quickly becoming outdated compared to the benefits and uses of augmented reality. With the ability to not only visualize the real world through a camera lens, but also add to it, the opportunities for the construction industry are endless. It is not cheap, but for construction companies that can afford it, this is a revolutionary step forward in how things can be projected and built, and is a trend that will undoubtedly grow exponentially in the coming years. We can throw away the plastic glasses, and instead plan, and plot our sites well before the ground is broken.
2. Cloud & Mobile Technology
Looking back only a few years, most people had difficulty or were unable to describe what a cloud operating system was. Today, virtually all mobile devices are capable of leveraging cloud technology, with the ability to use and operate cloud-based software from anywhere, and at any time. The sky is the limit for cloud devices as more people know the advantages, including essentially limitless amounts of data that can be stored and shared instantly with the touch of a button, and at about the tenth of the cost of old sharing technologies. It is accessible from anywhere that is connected online. This technology will go from being preferred in the construction industry to becoming mandatory in order to remain competitive in the market.
3. Connected Job Sites
This trend goes hand in hand with many of the other trends listed here, but it cannot be overstated. Frequently, if not always, engineers, managers, surveyors, architects and construction workers are nowhere near each other at the same time. However, with cloud technology for example, all of these people and companies can remain connected with each other at the same time. There is a growing landscape of different software solutions that enables graphics, measurements and instructions to be passed along much more efficiently, and in real-time as well.
4. Construction Management Software
This trend has been around for some time and is commonly used by most construction businesses in some form or another. Today, however, there are numerous types of construction software being used to manage all functional areas of a construction business. Check out our list of the Top 10 Construction Software Solutions available in the market for 2018. These programs help manage business operations that are just as important as the construction itself, including job costing, service management, project management, scheduling, budgeting, and payments to name a few.
5. Wearable Technology
This may seem like a no-brainer to many construction managers. After all, we have Fitbit’s, wearable 3D glasses (Google Glass) and even football quarterbacks now wear an armband that can communicate with the coach. Nevertheless, wearable technology for the construction site is a new and emerging trend. In this industry, wearable technology serves to help keep workers safe. Instead of constantly looking down at instructions, they can talk to the technology. It can also help track where a worker is in the case of an accident. As AI continues to improve, expect this to become mandatory. For 2018, however, it is an experiment well worth trying out.
Drones are already in heavy use at construction sites, with one in five companies already benefitting from their use. They save time, as an entire site can be surveyed in a matter of minutes, rather than weeks or months, while also saving businesses a great deal in labor costs. This is a rapidly developing technology in terms of accuracy and precision of their readings, as well as less human involvement necessary. In years past, readings and requiring a controller made companies weary of their use, but they are now much more efficient.
7. Smart/Green Construction
Smart Construction started out as an expensive fad on the West Coast and in Europe a few years ago. The savings yielded after careful planning on energy sparing construction was barely worth the effort. In 2018, many analysts are expecting the costs of green construction to go down significantly, assuming other trends are followed. If the entire construction process is streamlined with the use of other time and labor sparing technologies, the use of solar, wind and other sustainable forms of energy can be easily offset, making the clients’ savings well worth the use.
8. BIM (Building Information Modeling)
Easily one of the best new trends of 2018 will be BIM. This has been used in the past, but a lot of innovation has gone into this construction industry technology. This not only enables 3D and 4D (time) programming, but also 5D, 6D, 7D and 8D, or cost, as-built operation, sustainability and safety. It is essentially an intelligent, model-based technology that takes a project from conception to completion. Expect to see this trend continue to increase in usage over the coming years.
9. 3D Printing
Another technology that has been around for a few years, its usage is likely to continue growing in the coming years. In the past, the two main struggles to adopting this technology were cost and time. The machines are still cost-prohibitive and can be overworked easily, and the time to finish a project by this machine was very slow. There are plans to work on both of these issues, as the implications of this technology could be very important to the construction industry going forward.
Finally, we are including robotics on the list as a trend in 2018. Hospitals are already investing a lot in robots and their use in surgeries. If they are precise and accurate enough to use in mending the human body, they will no doubt be able to be a commanding force in the construction industry. The cost will be high, but it may very well be worth it to at least watch where this technology goes. They are able to lay bricks and tie rebar, maybe, just maybe, they will soon be able to complete majority of the current man-operated construction projects in the near future.
Looking into what will probably be 2018’s top construction technology trends is exciting and much more ambitious than what we have seen in a while. The list will likely continue to grow as timeliness, efficiency, safety and the need for green technologies continue to become more important to the construction industry.
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