Recent analysis of the construction technology ecosystem finds emerging trends that are disrupting the way we plan, design and execute projects.
Construction organizations are making bold moves in 2019.
Although the construction industry has been slow to adopt technology and digitalization in previous decades, this has completely changed. This year, construction organizations are making bold moves to dominate the new era. These moves are already helping companies reduce project risks and costs. In this article, we will uncover the top 4 trends that are dominating the construction industry in the next decade and how these trends are being utilized by leading companies.
Does Adopting New Technology Matter in 2019?
Before we go over these 4 trends, you might be asking yourself, “Should my organization embrace new technology this year?”
A 2018 study by Mckinsey shed light on the emergence of construction technology trends. These trends included a recurrence of technology clusters, and the study uncovered that industry-wide technology investment has grown to over $10 billion in less than a decade.
It is clear that construction organizations are embracing new technology. These trends are becoming new competitive advantages in the marketplace that will reduce project risk, reduce cost and capture more of the increasing market share.
Top 4 Construction Trends That Are Dominating 2019
1. 3D printing, modularization and robotics.
The construction industry has been increasing its adoption of systems around mass production, relying on prefabrication, building and assembling components off-site. These systems are not only helping organizations cut cost and reduce risk but can boost the sector’s productivity tenfold.
Part of this growth comes from advances in technology and adoption of 3D printing and modeling for a variety of construction materials, not just prototyping.
Some additional ways construction companies are utilizing 3D printing and modeling:
- Fully automated prefabrication processes that turn a 2D drawing or 3D model into a prefabricated building component, or fabrication directly off a 3D model or shop drawings;
- Construction robotics such as bricklaying or welding robots;
- Self-driving heavy machinery to make construction safer, faster and more affordable;
- Exoskeletons and wearable robotics to improve the mobility of workers with injuries or to harness the strength of robotic arms;
- Metal 3D printing of long-lead components such as joints, enabling the production of high-performing components and, ultimately, more efficient, cost-effective parts.
In terms of robotics, the construction industry is seeing advances as a response to the labor shortage in many geographies, as well as hitting a ceiling in physical productivity. We are experiencing a revolution of companies embracing hardware innovations that enable field augmentation with exoskeletons and drone-enabled yard inspection. This means more companies are pairing humans with robots to assist in tasks that would normally take a human more effort, such as lifting heavy objects and placing them in exact coordinates.
2. AI and Machine Learning.
We are just scratching the surface of what is possible with artificial intelligence and machine learning in the construction industry. These trends have gained much traction due to their overarching use throughout the entire construction lifecycle (from pre-construction through O&M). This is certainly true for reality capture and comparing field conditions to plans (twin models). By applying machine learning to a project, companies can increase the ability to hit target deadlines and catch and correct blueprint errors in real-time.
This industry is uniquely positioned to experience modest growth. Although we are at the beginning of this journey, the potential impact is exponential, and the leaders of tomorrow could be those who embrace it today.
3. Supply chain optimization and marketplaces.
For many organizations and projects, the procurement process can be manual and complicated. New start-ups have appeared in the marketplace for buying, selling goods and finding talent. Some of these start-ups have been acquired by large suppliers in order to accelerate scale to meet the market demand. We have already seen how these centralized marketplaces have revolutionized industries such as retail (Amazon and eBay).
In construction, we could see advancements in competitive bidding by improving visibility of costs and availability of materials, equipment and labor. This type of model could be quite valuable to prefabricated components that are manufactured off-site.
4. Digital twin technology.
In construction, transparency and proactive problem resolution drive productivity. Utilizing digital twin platforms and reality-capture solutions can minimize rework in the field by creating an active view of the project’s progress to be tracked and compared in real-time. This helps project stakeholders adapt blueprints as the work progresses and incorporate changes.
The most compelling factor of twin models is incorporation of 3D models from drone imagery with live key performance indicators (KPIs) that are monitored using IoT sensors. This means exact digital replicas can be created from a project’s physical reality, creating higher data accuracy that can efficiently automate real-time progress. This also means users can virtually engage with models that combine 3D and as-built configuration. This level of full automation could potentially revolutionize the time spent on construction project decision-making cycles, including scheduling and budget updates.
The construction technology revolution is here. Are you ready?
The industry is facing clear challenges, from productivity to a shortage in labor like we’ve never seen before. With all of these technology advancements, there will be very few sustainable paths other than explosive growth. The next decade will be exciting years for construction companies that understand how to best adopt and strategically incorporate these technology trends.
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