2017 construction tech trends: zbrella spotlights three of the brightest & most influential
Technology in construction isn’t leverage anymore. It’s a necessity even the most basic companies need to adopt to compete. But between the hype of future tech, it can be hard to figure out what really matters. That’s why zbrella is looking at three of the hottest 2017 construction tech trends that make a difference in the industry.
Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality
While the two are far from the same, their ubiquity within the industry and their similarities often puts AR and VR together. They are certainly both 2017 construction tech trends that are actively contributing to the industry today. And they are both technologies that have already been adopted by major construction companies. In 2016, Caterpillar and AECOM were two of many companies to implement AR into their processes. Caterpillar partnered with Scope AR to develop a new kind of customer-based support via AR, while AECOM partnered with Trimble on the world’s first application of HoloLens. In tandem with its sister tech, VR was implemented by major construction firm Bechtel nearly a year ago as safety training for construction workers.
The real-life applications of AR/VR will continue to evolve as more construction companies see the potential for growth and profitability. From being able to detect errors before they happen, increasing profits, improving the lack of skilled labor in construction, and increasing worker safety, AR/VR has proven its worth as a major 2017 construction tech trend that will undoubtedly continue into the future. Gilbane Building Corporation cut costs by saving $5,000 using AR. The Institute for Computation in Engineering at the Ruhr-Universitat Bochum in Germany currently trains workers using VR-simulated versions of the jobs they will perform in the real world. AR and VR are not future-tech. They are already being used internationally, and will continue to leave a mark on the industry.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is one of those things that seem like a buzzword. In actuality, it’s a real-life technology doing a lot of work in construction. IoT refers to pretty much anything that includes curating information pertaining to the construction jobsite. This includes equipment and employee tracking, wearables, sensors, drone surveying, etc. To cut costs and increase job performance, contractors and subs are typically drawn to this particular tech trend. For this reason, it is very much among the 2017 construction tech trends that are actually being used for profit in the industry.
The power of IoT is the information one draws from IoT and what one does with that information. For example, wearables can track workers in the field. This type of information can ensure workers are made aware of and protected from jobsite dangers. IoT, therefore, has the potential to decrease jobsite injuries, saving the company from liability and employees from hazardous jobsite conditions. Sensors in equipment and tools can monitor jobsite property location, eliminating loss and theft, and machinery can communicate when it needs to be repaired. This also saves time in inspection and cuts cost in manhours. Drone surveying typically eliminates the need for costly traffic disruptions and also has the ability to survey jobsites in half the time human workers can. All of this information put together makes for one of the most powerful 2017 construction tech trends on the list.
Robots haven’t just been having a moment in construction. They have been having quite a year and counting. Advancements in robot tech specifically for the benefit of the construction industry has seen quite a gamut of innovative industry solutions. As far back as 2015, construction conglomerate, Hitachi, disclosed that they had been using robots at several warehouse locations for months. Their artificially intelligent systems were used to oversee jobsite work and to problem solve using algorithmically deduced solutions. At the time, Hitachi reported an 8% productivity increase.
Meanwhile, Dutch company Vanku VB developed a robotic system known as Tiger-Stone as far back as 2015. They automated one of the most time-consuming and laborious processes in construction: bricklaying. How? Via a robot that lays entire sheets of pre-paved brick flooring, reducing manpower and hours significantly. In 2016 yet another construction robot was introduced to the industry. Known as Robinspect, this robot addresses tunnel inspection, performing faster, eliminating labor, and working without the need to shut down entire tunnel systems. There have been others, such as robots created to take the place of superintendents and robots that can lay cement. Out of the 2017 construction tech trends to hit the scene, robots aren’t going anywhere.