How New Technology is Rebuilding the Construction Industry

Last Updated: June 22nd, 2022
Researched and Written by: Lexi Wood

New technology is helping to rebuild the construction industry. From the earliest automated hand tools to the latest 3D printing and drone possibilities, the industry is booming thanks to new advances in equipment, machinery, and methodology. Discover how the latest tech can help your construction business thrive:

What is Construction Technology?

Construction technology can refer to a lot of things, ranging from new equipment to methodologies. For instance, the first power tools drastically sped up all types of construction and repair work. Now, new tech covers everything from artificial intelligence to robotic exoskeletons. The key role of construction technology is to automate business tasks which once required manual labor to complete.

Construction management software is one such example, as it allows general contractors and construction companies to improve their decision-making when planning new construction projects. The software relies on evolving technology to ease job costing by analyzing labor, material, and equipment costs.

Pros and Cons of Construction Technology

Technology is often seen as a double-edged sword. Explore the pros and cons of construction technology:

Advantages

There are a lot of undeniable advantages to utilizing construction technology at your construction business. Power tools can work faster than manually operated ones, software can automatically calculate job costs, and new equipment is always being developed.

Perhaps one of the biggest pros is the ability to streamline work by automating tasks, particularly business processes. Instead of spending hours going over calendars and spreadsheets to determine available employee hours for an upcoming project, construction scheduling software can do it instantly. And evolving equipment and machinery can complete work in hours or days which would have taken manual laborers weeks or months to complete.

Another benefit of construction tech comes from better communication. Active job sites are known for being loud, and trying to have an entire conversation over walkie-talkie can lead to miscommunication. Changes in construction technology include the rise of mobile apps which allow for better communication even at hectic job sites.

Finally, new technology helps keep construction sites and workers safe. By better understanding how to safely do the job, you can increase productivity without cutting corners. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning analyze evolving construction to find the safest methods.

Disadvantages

While technology has a lot of positive impacts on construction, there are some drawbacks. Since construction technology is always improving, you can be left behind when new advancements roll out. This can be particularly frustrating if, after spending months or years implementing a new construction software, you find out it’s already obsolete compared to a newer system.

Training on new technology is another potential setback. A technology survey by Software Connect revealed over 80% of construction companies rely on manual methods for basic business functions. While software can automate those processes, employees have to be trained in order to maximize the benefits. The post-implementation period can be full of human error as workers adjust to the learning curve. This has resulted in many construction companies being reluctant to try new technology such as web-based or cloud-hosted software solutions. That’s not even getting into new machinery and equipment, which also requires a lot of training to use effectively.

Finally, new technologies are expensive. Software, hardware, and training all add up to time and money. It’s no surprise many construction companies feel behind the curve when it comes to adopting tech:

Chart of Technology Adoption in the Construction Industry

Types of Construction Technology

There are several main types of construction technology, and there are always more being developed. Just a few of the most popular examples include:

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building information modeling (BIM) design software is a smart 3D modeling and visualization process used to efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings or infrastructure. By creating a shared resource of project data in one place, BIM helps keep architecture, engineers, managers, and stakeholders on the same page.

BIM visualization tools create virtual 3D models of proposed buildings and infrastructure. More advanced BIM systems may include modules for project management, such as scheduling, costing of building materials, and automation data collection.

3D Printing, Virtual Reality, AI, and Machine Learning

Virtual or augmented reality can show contractors what a finished project might look like in a simulated or real-world environment. Potential changes can be seen in the space before additional work begins. And physical 3D printed models can then show clients what to expect beyond computer visualizations made by BIM. 3D printing can even make custom parts right at the job site, further expediting work.

AI and machine learning can work together to better analyze construction projects to make them safer and more affordable. They can review historical data from past projects and construction processes to identify areas of improvement, improving your decision-making in the long-term.

Wearables

Wearables go well with cloud-based software, as they provide construction professionals even more accessibility on the job. Construction workers can use smartwatches or similar devices to monitor changes and facilitate onsite communication. No more checking walkie-talkies in and out or miscommunications between someone was turned to the wrong channel. Other wearables include:

  • Helmet and hard hats
  • Glasses and visors
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Vests
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Support exosuits

In some cases, construction tech wearables rely on mobile apps in order to work. Depending on the software, these can be customized to best suit your construction firm’s needs. For instance, you can allow workers to log their hours by clocking in or out from their own mobile devices. Or, you can remotely monitor safety conditions with smart vests which measure temperature to determine when workers need to take a break.

Drones and Robots

Recent years have seen a huge rise in the number of drones and robots being used on construction job sites. These autonomous or operator-controlled robotics can do the work humans can’t, either due to physical or safety limitations. And these can help make up for temporary or long-term labor shortages.

Examples of this technology in action include using drones to perform ground surveys and create topographic maps. Aerial views of a job site can improve accuracy when planning out where certain new construction features will be located. A drone operator can survey an entire site in a matter of minutes without having to step foot on the ground. In areas where there’s a lot of vegetation or debris, this might be the only way to get the job done.

Construction Worker Operating Drone Technology

Cloud-based Software

There are a lot of different construction software packages available to contractors. However, the best options are usually cloud-based, meaning they are accessible from any device with Internet access. For anyone working on a remote job site, this can be crucial for getting important business tasks done without the need for traveling back to an office and desktop.

Remote software and apps can provide real-time data collection, much faster than traditional methods. If there is an unexpected interruption to the supply chain, your construction company can adjust as fast as possible to keep the timeline accurate.

The long-term importance of construction technology should not be overlooked. Wearable technology like smartwatches let everyone from construction managers to subcontractors get project updates in real-time. Yet the biggest benefit to the construction industry is the use of wearable tech for safety monitoring.

Currently, the most influential aspect of construction technology is the use of drones and robots to automate labor. While drones and robots may be the newest construction technology tools, they have the farthest reaching impact for modernizing construction methods.

Additionally, construction exoskeletons now allow humans to perform additional tasks which would otherwise require specialized machinery to complete. The same exoskeleton can be used in multiple ways, minimizing the need for extra construction equipment. Combined with drones and other robotics, new technology solutions are completely revolutionizing how construction is done.

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