15 Important Construction Technologies To Use On-Site
Adopting construction technology in a worksite can increase efficiencies, reduce costs and improve productivity levels. There are many technology tools and equipment items that can help employees efficiently complete more complex construction tasks without risking the overall quality of the projects. These tools have many advanced features that benefit employees, companies and community members.
In this article, we review what construction technology is, discuss why it's important to adopt it and share tools and equipment pieces that enhance productivity and efficiency levels.
What is construction technology?
Construction technology is a collection of advanced tools, software systems, modifications and machinery items for safely and efficiently completing construction projects. These tools consist of technologies like robots, drones and mobile apps that help people working in construction complete their tasks quickly without negatively impacting the stability, cost or reliability of the project. Scientists and engineers are also building construction equipment, vehicles and building materials that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Why is it important to adopt construction technology?
It's important to monitor and adopt construction technology because it can help construction teams complete complex or dangerous construction projects quickly. By regularly monitoring and using construction technology, companies can build structures that are more durable, reliable and energy-efficient. This allows you to provide customers and community members with stable, long-lasting and environmentally friendly homes, workplaces and public buildings.
This technology also keeps construction sites safer, as many teams use tools like smart clothing and site sensors to remain more aware of their surroundings and to protect their bodies from unexpected debris or other potential damages. Many of the software and mobile tools also make it easier to effectively communicate with coworkers which enhances collaboration across the worksite.
Related: Construction Management: Functions and Phases
Important construction technologies
There are a wide variety of construction technologies that companies may use to complete daily tasks. Common construction technologies to consider adopting include:
1. Machine learning and artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools evaluate several data pieces to build schedules and construction plans that cut costs and reduce project construction times. They can also use this data to accurately predict future outcomes on government projects. This data can help construction companies predict project completion estimates and costs, which can provide a competitive advantage over other construction companies when placing bids for these projects.
Artificial intelligence can enhance productivity levels by locating and distributing its tools throughout the workday. This gives employees more time to focus on projects, rather than searching the site for tools they need. AI systems can monitor progress on the construction site to locate any areas of improvement and recommend potential solutions. They're also programmed to find and report any on-site errors in areas like electrical, plumbing or mechanical systems and report these issues for managers to resolve.
Related: Machine Learning vs. Deep Learning: What's the Difference?
2. Site sensors
Managers may place many sensors around a construction site to monitor various elements like noise levels, temperatures and dust particles to ensure the safety and comfort of the people working on the site. If employees are at risk of any dangerous exposures, the sensors provide alerts immediately. These sensors also collect data for managers to review to ensure construction zone safety and exposure levels are at appropriate amounts and are compliant with local, state and federal regulations.
3. Smart clothing and wearables
People working on construction sites may wear personal protective equipment, like gloves, work boots, safety vests or hard hats with environmental sensors, biometrics, voltage detectors or location trackers embedded inside. This technology can monitor their movements to ensure they're safe at all times. If an employee slips and falls or harms themselves while working on-site, the smart clothing can notify managers or contact emergency help, if needed.
If employees enter hazardous or restricted zones within the construction area, the location sensors set off alarms to alert them to leave the area. Smart clothing can also monitor vital signs, like temperature, heart rate or respiration rate. If someone becomes overheated, experiences trouble breathing or undergoes heart conditions, the suit can detect it and contact managers or other authorities for help.
4. Drones and robots
Drones can complete many tasks on a construction site. They'll typically hover over projects and take pictures or videos of their progress to report to managers. Leadership members can also regularly monitor these drones' recordings of a site to ensure teams follow construction site guidelines, remain productive and stay safe.
Drones can also handle jobs that could be dangerous, like building or bridge inspections. People working on construction sites may receive extensive training on how to control and move these drones around to capture valuable construction site footage.
5. Structural monitoring systems
Some newly-constructed buildings contain structural monitoring systems which use sensors to pinpoint certain strengths and potential weaknesses in the infrastructure. They can typically detect problems in a building's infrastructure that the human eye isn't able to locate.
This allows these systems to accurately predict any structural issues before they occur and notify construction managers accordingly. Construction managers can use this information to conduct maintenance needed to keep the structure stable.
Related: Learn About Being a Construction Manager
6. Virtual and augmented reality
People in the construction industry may use virtual reality to safely undergo training. They're able to review written guidelines and instructions, then physically practice what they learned through engaging simulations that replicate real-life events that could regularly occur on the site. It's also a great way to teach these employees what to do during emergencies, like equipment malfunctions or natural disasters, without physically placing them in the situation.
Project managers can use augmented reality to plan and envision the final outcomes of construction projects. Some augmented reality technologies allow you to view building plans by wearing lenses or smart mobile devices. It can detect significant areas within a building plan or show a layout of the property. You can also use this technology to create 3D models to plan the architecture or design for certain buildings or properties.
7. Building information modeling software
This is an application within augmented reality software that uses planning tools to generate effective and productive workflows. Construction managers can use building information modeling software to craft 3D models of various projects. They can, then, develop workflows around these models to efficiently build schedules and deliver a quality final product. This allows construction managers to remain in control of the planning, designing and implementing phases of construction projects from start to finish.
8. Predictive analytics
Predictive analytics technology uses large data sets to make predictions regarding a construction company's supplies and other expenses. It can review a company's spending history on certain supplies and compare it with how often employees used those items and how many they used. This allows this system to determine the number of supplies to order for future projects to cut costs and avoid expensive surpluses on certain supplies.
Related: Everything You Need To Know About Predictive Analytics
9. Environmentally safe construction technology
As sustainable and green buildings increase in demand, many customers may prefer energy-efficient projects. Luckily, there are energy monitors and building management systems that can more accurately measure operational costs to install these eco-friendly capabilities in many buildings. These systems can also review the build specifications to ensure they're meeting the energy efficiency levels required by the customer.
There are also water supply techniques that significantly decrease water waste through methods like greywater reuse, rainwater harvesting or dual plumbing. Construction projects can use this water filtering and collection technology to conserve important natural resources, like water.
10. Electric vehicles
Another addition to the growth of sustainable technology is the expanding use of electric vehicles, like trucks and delivery vans. Many of these construction vehicles can travel a significant number of miles after a single charge. Since construction projects often entail driving trucks around a site regularly, using electric vehicles can contribute to a safer and cleaner environment for both construction teams and community members getting around or living near construction zones.
11. 3D printing
Not only can construction teams use 3D models to show employees and clients their project plans, but some companies can 3D print entire houses. While still being developed and perfected, 3D printing homes can save on time and construction costs. It typically uses a robotic arm to create the house layer by layer using concrete. This technique can also lay concrete when designing sidewalks, driveways and parking lots.
12. Building material advancements
Many construction companies are using high-tech, quality materials developed by scientists to ensure building structures remain stable and sustainable. Some materials construction projects use can also contribute to reducing pollution while cutting costs. New and innovative building materials becoming more common on construction sites are:
Wood and seaweed bricks: These are significantly stronger than traditional bricks and are made without emitting carbon through using a kiln, which essentially helps the environment.
Self-healing concrete: This material heals itself by repairing its own cracks and can last for hundreds of years.
Translucent wood: As an alternative to window glass, this material is biodegradable and stronger than traditional glass.
Algae-infused building panels: When installed, these can generate cleaner energy to spread throughout the air.
13. Offsite construction
Crews can build homes and buildings using offsite construction. It allows you to design entire rooms and install finishes and fixtures from an offsite location using modular units. You'll then transport these units to the construction area and attach them to the structural frame. It's best to use this method on projects that contain repetitive layouts and floor plans, usually in apartments, hotels, dormitories, schools or hospitals.
Construction teams sit in an offsite controlled environment in separate stations using tools and materials to construct, design or install certain elements within a structure. Another area of offsite construction allows teams to build components offsite, then assemble or install them at the construction site. This can be components like window assemblies, door framings and floor systems.
14. Autonomous heavy equipment
These are larger equipment and machinery items used on construction sites to complete site work, grading and excavation. Autonomous heavy equipment is self-driving, so it doesn't require employees to operate it from the front seat. Instead, GPS, drones and sensors then usually navigate the equipment throughout the construction site. Construction teams design 3D models for the machine to follow as they grade and excavate the terrain onsite. Employees may also navigate these machines using a tablet or computer.
15. Mobile technology
Mobile applications have made it easier for employees to effectively communicate and collaborate on certain projects or meetings. Onsite teams scheduled for meetings can attend them using video chat from their smartphones, keeping them from traveling back and forth between the office and the construction site.
Some construction mobile technology applications also make it easy to share building plans and progress with stakeholders or clients. Using the applications, stakeholders or clients can adjust specifications or add notes to projects currently in construction. This helps them remain more in control of and updated on their project's progress.
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