In the past, the construction industry has been slow when it comes to adopting and utilizing new technologies. But with the proliferation of smart devices and other disruptive forces, most industry professionals agree that technology will play a key role in the construction industry moving forward.
“Construction is likely to be one of the most dynamic industrial sectors in the next fifteen years and is utterly crucial to the evolution of prosperous societies around the world,” Fernando A. González, Chief Executive of CEMEX, said in a recent PwC report.
In today’s blog, we’ve picked out 5 trends to watch in 2017.
VIRTUAL & AUGMENTED REALITY
Virtual reality can be extremely useful in the construction industry and companies are already using it to plan, manage and construct projects. The first obvious benefit is that working on a project in a virtual environment allows a company to test a number of factors without losing the time and cost of actually building the structure. It allows a team to detect errors and avoid mistakes.
We’ve heard how virtual and augmented reality will benefit training in the healthcare and education sectors, but it will also play an increasingly important role in site safety. Managers will be able to teach employees new skills in a virtual environment, and make them aware of potential hazards on site, so that they can avoid risk of injury or worse.
The global market for virtual and augmented reality is expected to reach $105.2 billion by 2020 from $8.1 billion in 2015, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 67% from 2015 to 2020.
INTERNET OF THINGS
The IoT is a disruptive innovation that’s impacting every industry, and construction is no exception. As companies continue to look for new and more effective ways to cut costs, many are turning to the IoT to help improve site efficiency.
There are numerous examples, from equipment and employee tracking to drone surveying. For equipment like power drills, workers’ hours can be logged automatically, so as to prevent worker fatigue and possible accidents. It can also be used for supply replenishment purposes, while sensors can monitor whether machinery is in need of repair.
Wearables can be used to track workers in the field and ensure they are where they are meant to be, and ensure that they are aware of potential job or site hazards.
PRECASTING / PREFABRICATION
Precasting is expected to become a key trend in 2017. Precasting is when a product is made by casting concrete in a reusable mold and curing it under a controlled environment. It is then transported to the construction site and lifted into place. This offers many potential advantages over onsite casting.
For example, the material quality and workmanship are under greater control in precasting. They can be reused hundreds to thousands of times before they can be replaced, which make them cost efficient. The fact that more and more construction industries prefer to use precast concrete over onsite concrete will see this market grow in the coming years.
Prefabrication is also growing in popularity and the first ever Multi Trade Prefabrication Conference is taking place this year in Dallas. A good example of why companies are implementing prefabrication strategies is the “Office of the Future” building in Dubai. In all, it took a total of 17 days to print the building off-site and only two days of assembly were required on-site.
Modular construction is a similar trend to prefabrication that is forecast to gain popularity in 2017. According to a recent report on the subject:
“This growth can be attributed to factors such as keen interest from contractors and builders in using individual precast modules to build complete structures across residential and non-residential construction sectors and increase in public and private investment in global infrastructural development, especially in the emerging economies of Asia-pacific and Latin America.”
This year, companies will try to assemble as much as possible off-site before completing the projects on-site. Modular construction is a process that will cut down on costs and lead times.
Building Information Modeling (BIM), a digital representation of a construction project, is already widely used by architects, engineers and other construction professionals. It is an essential part of the planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintaining phases of construction.
Nowadays, the software tool is becoming exceptionally popular among end users owing to its lucrative advantages such as increased return on investments (ROIs), time and money saving. The market is expected to garner close to $12 billion, worldwide, by 2022.
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