We first built homes to protect us from the elements. Since then, construction industry trends have come a long way. We’ve refined our techniques and integrated new developments.
In recent decades, technology has provided another stepping stone to sector growth. How is technology influencing the construction industry, and what changes can we expect to see in the future?
Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. Most don’t leave home without it. However, it’s also a vital tool shaping the construction industry. Phones facilitate communication on and off the jobsite, making it easier for supervisors and project managers to collaborate with teams.
Before cellphones, communicating with a team of construction workers required taking them off the job. Now, a supervisor can complete the same task by picking up his phone.
The Nextel Walkie-Talkie, popular in the early 2000s, was designed for the construction industry and similar sectors. It would still be useful today, but Sprint shut down the direct connect network in 2012.
Some downsides come with smartphones. They make it harder to separate your personal and business life, as it’s so easy to pick up and go. If used properly, however, their benefits are endless.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented and virtual reality, or AR and VR, respectively, began as instruments of the gaming community and are anticipated to be worth $90 billion in the next two years. Virtual reality uses a headset to place you in an immersive virtual environment. Augmented reality, on the other hand, uses smartphone cameras, headsets or heads-up displays to project a virtual environment on the real world. Both technologies are quickly becoming useful tools in a variety of industries.
In construction, VR and AR have two possible applications. On the design side, they can assist architects and interior designers, allowing them to see their creations at scale. Imagine being able to walk through your new home before the contractors break ground? VR replaces the need for scaled miniatures when showcasing a new design.
On the construction site, VR and AR can help workers keep track of the blueprint and daily operations. Even NASA uses AR for assembly instead of asking employees to read massive manuals.
Fully Equipped Drones
Drones are another technological advancement that started as a toy. However, they’re quickly finding a role in many industries, including construction. These small flying devices come equipped with cameras, thermal sensors and other tools to make construction easier.
They’re capable of surveying a jobsite without a helicopter or airplane. They can allow site supervisors and managers to conduct safety inspections without leaving the office. Drones, with the proper programming, can also perform safety inspections autonomously, making it easier to fit safety into a busy construction schedule.
In the future, large drones might be capable of delivering tools or construction supplies directly to workers that need them, reducing time spent traveling between tool depots or supply dumps.
Technology in Construction — Looking Forward
Technology has had a significant impact on the construction industry. It’s also changed the way we live our lives. It makes sense that enterprises in all sectors are looking for ways to integrate new tools, increase efficiency and boost profit.
Some of the most prominent construction technologies began in other industries. For example, drones were a hobby activity — think RC planes and rockets. AR and VR got their start in the gaming community, a way to make fantasy more immersive.
However, they’ve all found their way into construction. Today, construction technology is making the job easier for workers and enhancing operations all around the globe. It’s inevitable that advancements with continue, and with it, the improvement of the construction industry.
Emily is a sustainability writer who is the creator of Conservation Folks.