Technological advances in construction.

India is witnessing rapid urbanization everywhere, and thus, the number of Infrastructure and construction projects is also increasing.

The construction industry is an important indicator of the state of the economy as it is one of the largest employment generators in the country. With strong linkages to industries such as cement, steel, chemicals, paints, tiles, etc., the sector serves as one of the strongest propellers of private sector involvement in the country’s built environment.

According to the data from the Construction Intelligence Center (CIC), the volume of construction output is predicted to grow by 85% to $15.5 trillion globally by the end of this decade. India is expected to become the world’s third-largest construction market by 2022. GOI allocated Rs. 111 lakh crore (US$1.4 trillion) under the NIP for FY2019-25. Initiatives like “housing for all” and “Smart cities” will drive the growth of the sector. The vast population and the growing numbers in the urban population is only indication the expansion of the cities into much bigger sizes.  With the potential and the huge demand in the construction industry is making India look for much efficient ways to increase productivity and cutting down the construction costs. 

Technology in the construction space has coincided with growing demand for faster construction and world-class quality.

Today, new technologies in construction are being developed; it is almost imperative that innovations be applied to the most basic as well as a most important step in the value chain – construction techniques. As construction companies should focus on implementing digitalization, innovative technologies, new construction techniques, the construction space is now looking at cutting-edge technology solutions such as robotics, cloud, and artificial intelligence among others.

Modern tech in construction

The Internet Of Things(IOT)

The Internet Of Things (IOT) is an already integral piece of construction technology and massively transforming its way of working.

IoT is made up of smart devices and sensors that all share data with each other and can be controlled from a central platform. The implications of this are huge as it means that a new smarter, more efficient, and safer way of working is now very possible.

What does this mean for construction?

  • Smart machinery can be used to perform repetitive tasks and can also be smart enough to maintain itself, for example, a cement mixer that runs low on cement, with the use of a sensor, it can order itself more, boosting efficiency and productivity
  • Footfall can be tracked on site and applications used to induct and check-in and out workers – reducing paper-heavy tasks and saving huge amounts of time
  • Increased safety – by using geo-location, dangerous areas can be identified within a construction site and with the use of smart technology can alert any workers if they enter the area.
  • With the use of smart technology, it can greatly reduce the carbon footprint of development. By having sensors in vehicles to switch off the engines when idle, or by measuring wastage and using that data for better planning to inform the layout of development to reduce travel across sites. 

BIM- Building Information Modeling

BIM technology is an intelligent 3D modeling tool that supports engineering, architecture, and construction professionals to effectively plan, design, modify and manage buildings and their infrastructure. It begins with the creation of models and supports document management, coordination and simulation during the entire lifecycle of a project (plan, design, build, operation and maintenance).

BIM technology enables better collaboration because each expert can add its expertise area to the same model (architecture, MEP, civil, plant, construction, and structures), enabling a review of project evolution and working results in real-time.

Expectations are that further development of BIM features and subsequent technology will be the trigger for changes in a construction project design, development, deployment, and management.

Compared to 2D drawings – it is the perfect support for clash detection and problem-solving during design, which improves planning and increased efficiency across a construction project’s life-cycle. Among all benefits, it also helps to optimize the work and company processes.

Mobile and Cloud Technology

Prior to the rise in construction technology, the construction industry had been notorious for being one of the least digitalized industries. Only in recent years has the technology that can handle the challenging environments, workflows, and complications of such a physical industry evolved and now continues to impact the sector – mobile and cloud technologies being one.

What is cloud technology?

Cloud technology enables the possibility to access, use, modify, exchange, administer and manage data stored in remote servers, by using appropriate software applications. With Internet connection and authorization, access to these remote resources is supported by Mobile technologies that enable anyone to sign in for Cloud services.

These technologies allow data sharing, from the construction sites in real-time to all entities participating in the building construction process or to other entities responsible for contract realization. For example, review tools necessary for engineers and architects [BB] or project management tools are now available all time, providing better collaboration and information sharing.

Mobile and cloud technologies have significantly contributed to the changes and evolution of the construction sector, by enhancing the digital experience and business efficiency, enabling real-time information, providing Integrated Labour Delivery [ES], and improving organization and productivity.

3D Printing

3D printing is quickly becoming an indispensable construction technology offering for the construction industry, especially when taking into account its impact to changes in material sourcing. This technology pushes the boundaries beyond the designer’s table by creating a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design model, building the object up layer by layer.

benefits of 3D printing technology today in construction:

  • 3D printing provides the capability to either prefabricate offsite or directly on-site. Compared to traditional building methods, now it is possible to print materials important for prefabrication and have them ready to use immediately.
  • Moreover, 3D printing technology reduces materials waste and saves time by production of samples or even complete objects in 3D and monitoring all details are properly designed.
  • 3D printing technology features impact notable labour, energy-saving and material cost benefits, sustainability development support in the construction sector.
  •  It is a great advantage for construction companies that allows fast delivery of materials and reduction of additional useless steps in the technology process.

Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is intelligence shown by a machine in order to mimic human behaviour and machine learning (ML) is a field of AI, where statistical techniques are used to give a computer the ability to learn from data without being explicitly programmed. Both are fast becoming integral pieces of technology in the construction industry. 

Imagine a world whereby you could use computer systems to programme robots, machines, or to automatically calculate and design house building. This technology is already available and being used today, it continues to help advance construction technology with the industry able to benefit from increased efficiencies in cost and speed.

Here are some examples of how AI and ML are benefiting the construction industry today:

  • Predictive design, taking into consideration many factors such as weather, location, and creating digital building twins to increase the lifetime of a building.
  • Better design of buildings – Machine learning can be used to explore different variations of a solution and create design alternatives, taking into consideration the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and ensuring the routes for MEP systems do not clash with the building architecture. 
  • Using AI driven automation to take over highly repetitive tasks could significantly improve productivity and increase safety, whilst addressing the industry’s shortfall of labour.
  • Better financial planning and project management – using historical data, AI is able to predict any cost overruns, realistic timelines and can also help staff access information and training material faster to reduce on-boarding times.
  • Increased productivity – AI can be used to power machinery in order to perform repetitive tasks such as pouring concrete, brick laying or welding, freeing up human workers for the construction itself.
  • Increased safety – Construction workers are killed on the job five times more often than other labourers. With the use of AI, sites can be monitored for safety hazards, using photos and recognition technology to tell if a worker is wearing the correct PPE or by using geo-location to identify danger areas and alerting workers.

BIG DATA

A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Today the giants of the digital industry deal in data, the oil of the digital era.

There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace, but that pace is only accelerating as construction technology advances. Over the last two years alone a mind-blowing 90 percent of data in the world was generated!

“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” 

What is big data and where is the data coming from?

Big data is a term used to describe extremely large data sets that may be used to uncover hidden trends, patterns in behaviour, unknown correlations to make more informed business decisions and serve as the basis for artificial intelligence and automation systems. It is this big data that helps evolve advancements in construction technology.

This data is being gathered from Internet searches and services, mobile phones, digital photographs, social media and many other forms of digital communication tools – such as text message, Skype and emails.

How big data is being used in construction:

  • Historical big data can be analysed to pick out patterns and probabilities of construction risks to steer new projects towards success and away from pitfalls.
  • Big data from weather, traffic, and community and business activity can be analysed to determine the optimal phasing of construction activities.
  • Sensor input from machines used on sites to show active and idle time can be processed to draw conclusions about the best mix of buying and leasing such equipment, and how to use fuel most efficiently to lower costs and ecological impact.
  • Geolocation of equipment also allows logistics to be improved, spare parts to be made available when needed, and downtime to be avoided.
  • Energy conservation in shopping centres, office blocks and other buildings can be tracked to ensure it conforms to design goals. Traffic stress information and levels of flexing in bridges can be recorded to detect any out of bounds events.
  • This data can also be fed back into building information modelling (BIM) systems to schedule maintenance activities as required.

Overall, 2021 is set to be an exciting year for construction technology as these services become more readily available and become crucial for working towards a safer, more efficient and smarter working environment.

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