The construction industry is going digital, and changes are happening quickly. We will take a closer look at the 6 key areas that will have a huge impact on the industry in the coming years. Over the past few years, this fairly conservative sector has begun to implement many changes. New technologies are available, which helps the construction industry’s processes to become increasingly manageable.
This summer, MagiCAD presents the 6 areas that will have the most impact.
1. Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality
Put on glasses and see what your building looks like, even before it is built. The use of virtual reality is becoming more and more common. Take the Karlatornet skyscraper in Sweden as an example. Sweden is at the forefront of virtual reality. Markus WASER, construction technology trainer at Yrgo in Sweden explains that “virtual reality improves understanding of the building for everyone involved in the project: workers and residents alike. This technology will diversify and functionality will be part of the technologies on our laptops. Instead of using glasses, all you have to do is take your cell phone out of your pocket. That means that this technology will be accessible by most of the world ”.
Among the readers of this article, fans of the Pokémon GO will recognize how augmented reality can improve the world around us by adding digital information. This technology also allows us to see potential installations in buildings that are already constructed, for example, how this pipe could pass through this wall…
When we mix virtual and augmented realities, we have mixed reality. This means that the object in question is so well made, that it seems to be part of reality, like a hologram. With such technology, owners can go to the site, put on their MR glasses and see their next building come before their eyes. They can see what it would look like if they did; such and such a change. They can zoom in on the details. They can even enter the building and live it before the building is created – see through the windows, or move the walls to see what would change inside. This technology will then also be important for installers.
BIM has been part of our lives for a while, and the next step will be to use our models as legal documentation. Sölve HARR is responsible for BIM at Sweco, and he believes that BIM deserves to be considered as PDFs are for the 2D world. “The plans on paper are standardized. Now BIM should be standardized in the same way, so that it can be classified as legal documentation ”.
For the development of Slussen in Stockholm, the client requested a 3D model as legal documentation. “The problem is that we usually use this style of mockup for large projects, while it’s easier to use it for small projects,” says HARR.
Jonathan ERIKSSON, CEO of BST Teknik AB Sweden, shares the same feelings. He explains why everything has to be perfect from the start. “It’s really great that we have the possibility to calculate, for example, the length of the pipes from the start and that it only takes a few seconds. On paper, I will have it for weeks. On the other hand, we must be able to be certain that everything that happens in the model reflects reality. At BST Teknik we make fire protection system networks. We only have a few parts in our drawings, maybe 30 or 40, so it’s easy to manage even for large projects. But for other trades, it would be more complicated to assume all the responsibility for the project. I hope that the experience with Slussen and that the legal documentation as a model,
The cloud facilitates construction projects. Before, when we sent models to each other, once a week, we often realized that changes in the model, made by one person, did not correspond to the work done by another person. Now everyone can work on the same model in real time. Everyone has access to the same information and can be sure that it is the right information. Mr. HARR is convinced that everyone will soon work like this. “Thanks to digitalization, we can use our laptops to find out how many pipes there are in a project. All parties concerned have access to all information. The use of BIM is becoming more and more interesting ”tells HARR.
It will become more and more common to see robots on site. At the moment, there are very few robots in the construction industry, and most of them “work” in the production of prefabricated parts. Still, a few companies are working on developing robots for the construction industry. For example, Build-R makes a robot for installing plasterboard. This robot will start to work during rest periods and can install a plasterboard in three minutes. It will have a camera as well as sensors to measure angles and distances. Build-R intends to test this robot in NCC buildings and await the release of this robot during 2019.
There is also a company, Cbot, which is developing a robot for the placement of slabs. It uses cameras, lasers, lights and algorithms to correctly position the tiles. There are also robots that produce reinforcement cages on site, and in Switzerland we are testing a robot that can place foundations by steel rods. ERIKSSON finds this fascinating. “There is a lot of monotonous work in construction, which can also lead to musculoskeletal disorders. It’s better to leave this work to the robots, and use humans to program them. Even if a robot would replace a human, we will still need the human. Every aspect of Our world tends to automation ”.
All over the world, we are starting to make buildings with 3D printers. Researchers in California managed to print and build a house in 24 hours. In China, they manage to do 10 during the day. Recycled building materials and cement are used, saving the Chinese 50% of construction costs. In Europe too, tests are underway. In Copenhagen, we use a 3D printer to build a small office, and in the Netherlands we build a plastic house on site. At Umeå University in Sweden, a team found a technique for making cellulose prints, to make doors, walls, or even an entire house. The advantages of 3D printers; are waste reductions, and more recycling. It also offers more freedom for the architect,
The trend in energy sustainability is striking, and is now also applicable to construction. From January 2021, a European Energy Performance Directive for Buildings will be implemented. Any building under construction from this date must prove its energy efficiency. There are many certificates for sustainable construction, such as BREEAM, LEED, GreenBuilding… Digitization can help us facilitate sustainable construction.
For example, the Swedish Institute for Research on the Environment has just released a BM 1.0 calculation tool for producing analyzes on the construction life cycle. The tool calculates the impact of buildings on the environment and determines how companies could reduce their emissions, by adapting their choice of materials or production methods. Before long, the entire construction industry will work like this. Soon, we will even be able to see on the labels of construction materials, what are their environmental impacts.