The construction industry is experiencing a major paradigm shift. When we look back throughout the history of this industry, we notice that, on a global scale, there have been important advances. As the end of the year approaches and we look towards 2021, there is no reason why we cannot expect more of the same to happen. Here, the Technological Observatory of Construction, exposes some of the most notable trends that experts and various media, from various parts of the world, believe should be given in the technology trends in construction industry 2021.
- 1 1. Increase in prefabrication, modularization and environmental care
- 2 2. Software for construction and data ecosystem
- 3 3. Augmented reality
- 4 4. BIM will continue to grow
- 5 5. Robotics
- 6 6. Drones
- 7 7. Portable technology
- 8 8. Cloud and mobile technology
- 9 9. Advanced uses for GPS
- 10 10. New air for the circular economy
1. Increase in prefabrication, modularization and environmental care
There has been a growing trend towards prefabrication. This is easy to perceive when seeing the significant amount of seminars and workshops that were developed on this topic in 2020. This brought about a growing number of construction companies already implementing strategies to incorporate even more prefabricated elements into their projects. In Dubai, where this second edition of the Prefab & Construction Modular Summit was held this 2020, an office building was printed on a 3D printer in 17 days. The funny thing is that, after this, in just 2 days the actual assembly of the entire building was carried out. Many industry experts believe that we will continue to see this trend grow in the coming years, especially since the cost and timing and white gear are no longer so prohibitive. This does not mean that there are no problems, but that more and more these are addressed in a way that will help drive the industry forward.
Another growing trend is the construction “outside” the work. This trend will also grow in popularity over the next few years. There are already some companies of massive construction, which have begun to incorporate standardized processes of assembly of parts and pieces, that conform diverse constructive elements, outside the site where the work is executed. The benefit here lies in the fact that standardization reduces costs and delivery times.
All these processes are very beneficial for the sector, because: (a) Promotes care with the environment, since, when working in a factory, it is possible to improve waste management and recycling. On the other hand, (b) prefabrication saves a lot of money because construction companies can get significant discounts on materials. Also (c) time is saved, which also results in an economic benefit. Since all work is done in a closed and protected controlled environment, (d) there is less risk of problems associated with moisture, bad weather and dirt. In addition, (e) workers are less likely to suffer accidents.
2. Software for construction and data ecosystem
Real-time collaborative platforms and software are already considered as essential components in the entire construction process. However, its impact on the sector is expected to increase substantially in the near future. Needless to say, data has played a very prominent role in this paradigm shift in construction.
The irruption of the old BigData concept this 2020 will give way to something broader and more systemic: the creation of Data Ecosystems , in which all the innovative actors in the industry will gather and share information, good practices, experiences and knowledge of the different types projects already built, in execution or in early stages of design. In fact, this Technological Observatory of Construction , aims to become the first Data Ecosystem of Chilean construction.
The ability for companies in the sector to integrate their existing processes and systems into a single fully connected platform can enhance the way people work in the industry. A large number of software solutions for different functions and disciplines in the course of a construction project can now be effortlessly combined in one place.
The use of digital tools facilitates the accumulation of these valuable bits of information which leads to the minimization of delays, re-processes and communication problems between the work and the office. In that sense, the knowledge management of companies is expected to be strengthened thanks to reliable real-time collaboration software, to become the digital backbone of the construction process from start to finish.
3. Augmented reality
There is a perception in the construction sector that, although virtual reality has been an emerging trend in recent years, it is rapidly becoming outdated, especially when compared to the uses and benefits of augmented reality. This is the ability to visualize the real world through the lens of a camera. It is something that will open many new opportunities for the construction industry although it will have a significant cost. For those companies that can afford to start using it now, it will revolutionize the way they project and build their projects. This is a trend that will grow much more in the coming years.
4. BIM will continue to grow
Like last year, BIM is once again one of the latest trends in construction technology, which is strengthened by the emergence of open and highly collaborative data ecosystems.
BIM technology could be the catalyst for a fundamental change in the way we manage, design and develop a construction project. There are many different levels of programming enabled through BIM. 4D and 5D BIM are two very representative examples in that direction.
From a general point of view, BIM will contribute more precision to the construction process and will allow the exchange of important project information among the numerous stakeholders. In addition, it is anticipated that its additional evolution will make construction projects more productive and affordable by including unprecedented safety and sustainability measures for the sector.
It is clear that BIM will change the rules of the game in construction and offer a detailed description of the development of the project in an open and highly collaborative environment.
JB Knowledge says that robotics is something that should not be overlooked. Industries like health are already investing a lot of money in them. As these robots become more precise and safe, they will become a concrete “labor” force for the construction industry. At first, the cost of the robots will be high, but it will still be worth it to at least pay attention to this technology. Today we can see that robots can do things like laying bricks and tie rebar, we can even see them perform most of the construction processes that are currently operated by man.
Many works already depend heavily on the use of drones. These drones are very beneficial because they save a lot of time. For example, surveyors can do surveys of a complete site in just a few minutes, while in the past it would take several weeks or months. Obviously, this will also save construction companies a lot of money. As drone technology continues to develop rapidly in the accuracy and accuracy of its readings, even less human participation will be necessary. In the past, many companies hesitated to use drones because they still needed an operator, but today, as technology becomes much more efficient and autonomous, more construction companies are embracing this technology openly and voluntarily.
7. Portable technology
Wireless and portable technology (for example, Fitbit, 3D glasses, Google Glass, watches that can communicate with other users) will become an emerging trend that will be very useful for keeping workers safe. This will minimize accident risks because now workers can more easily report danger zones, they can talk to each other to prevent any eventuality, etc. In addition, it can help track where workers are if there is an accident. These technologies will be mandatory at some time .
8. Cloud and mobile technology
Just a few years ago, most people didn’t know or couldn’t explain what a cloud operating system was. Today, it is no longer like that. In fact, most mobile devices can take advantage of cloud technology from anywhere and at any time. There are many great advantages to this, including the storage of almost unlimited amounts of information that you can then share instantly with the touch of a button. This is also much less expensive. Since the cloud-based business telephone system is accessible from anywhere that has an Internet connection, it is expected to become an obligation for the company if it wishes to remain competitive.
9. Advanced uses for GPS
While GPS tracking solutions are nothing new, they are now being used more creatively and ingeniously, for example:
- Inspection has improved dramatically because work crews no longer require traditional on-site inspection.
- Data from possible future project sites can be collected quickly and accurately.
- Suppliers are also using GPS in the management of deliveries of construction materials. Today, each of its vehicles is equipped with a device that can be tracked through computers and smartphones. This allows everyone to know where the offices are always.
- It is easier to find lost or stolen equipment because administrators can now generate maps that identify the exact location of any of these items.
However, there are those who believe that we have not even approached to see the end of the growth of GPS technology today. Not only the applications in autonomous vehicles and portable technology are on the rise, but soon we will see vehicles without drivers. This will no longer be something we only hear about new Uber features, as construction companies will also use them. In fact, the general public will probably have these vehicles available starting in 2020.
In mining, there are already driverless vehicles in which Komatsu moves high grade minerals. As the number of these driverless vehicles continues to grow, we will have a knowledge base that will give the builders confidence.
10. New air for the circular economy
Circular economy is an ancient concept, created in 1980, to describe a closed system of interactions between economy and environment. This 2020, we have seen a resurgence of this concept and especially the interpellation that is made to the construction sector regarding the management of its waste. In fact, the construction industry is one of the world’s largest consumers of raw materials and generates a lot of waste that is only recycled in a small part. In many developed countries, between one third and one half of solid waste is derived from construction and demolition. That means that many valuable minerals, metals and organic materials are lost. Decreasing these amounts would have a very positive impact on sustainability. That is why companies that produce materials and components are beginning to transform to create products that have a circular life: that are adaptable, reusable and that do not generate waste. A good example is that of wood, a material that meets these qualities and regenerates.