Second part of our insight dedicated to the top technology trends in construction for 2020 according to the sector’s experts
Following our article regarding the top 10 technology trends in construction for 2020 where we have explored BIM, collaborative platforms, virtual and augmented reality (read part 1), we continue our analysis with some more interesting emerging technology.
In this article we will review drones, cloud and mobile technologies, modularization and 3D printing. These technologies have been under the spotlight for some years now and have already started to be implemented on construction sites. Experts believe that they will reach their peak in 2020 and, therefore, a massive adoption in the construction industry.
Drones are small remote-controlled aircrafts (the pilot can be on the ground or even on a different aircraft) and, undoubtedly, they feature as one of the most innovative technology trends in recent years.
One of the sectors where they result particularly useful is indeed construction, both during the design phase and construction works. Designing any type of building implies working on considerable dimensions, which also extend vertically. A drone for topographic surveying and aerial photography represents an important technological aid for taking measurements on the territory and checks on construction sites.
Inspections on construction sites with a properly equipped drone are increasingly widespread and in demand. According to Goldman Sachs, inspections at construction sites in the four-year period between 2016 and 2020 represent the most common way of using drone technology with a total turnover of about 11 million dollars.
This is an operation that allows operators to monitor the progress of construction works and to carry out checks that guarantee the safety of the structure and, to a lesser extent, verifications for preliminary design, quality control, bidding process, prevention and risk mitigation in the workplace.
The data collected is also used for the integration of maps and models for the growing BIM technology.
The speed of data acquisition, practically in real time, is one of the main reasons for drones adoption in construction, allowing timely action for any problems before they become difficult to solve and thus affect costs and quality of the work.
In short, construction drones are particularly useful for:
- carrying out aerial site surveying to support planning
- carrying out inspections and verifications
- carrying out energy and engineering installation systems diagnostics
- checking photovoltaic systems functioning
- producing photographic reports
- supervising construction sites
- transporting materials to the construction site
- creating new buildings.
As drone technology continues to develop rapidly in its accuracy and precision of reading, even less human involvement will be needed.
Cloud and mobile technology
Among the main trends that are impacting construction, cloud technology has definitely disrupted this sector and empowered digital experiences. What a few years ago was a simple promising innovation is today a full-fledged trend.
In fact, most mobile devices can take advantage of cloud technology anywhere and anytime. The cloud can accommodate and store almost limitless amounts of information that can be instantly shared with a button.
In the construction sector as well, efficiency and productivity recovery, market development and safety aspects improvements are already beginning to pass through the possibility of making the entire supply chain interconnected and intelligent, while transferring data and information through the network.
As a matter of fact, the cloud allows to share the data of a construction site in real-time to all those who participate in the building construction process. This technology consists of a review tool for engineers and architects, which digitizes the design review process on construction projects and enables better collaboration.
Working in cloud in the AEC sector means, above all, taking advantage of its efficiency and collaboration skills within the BIM workflow.
Modularization and 3D printing
The use of digital technologies can no longer stop at the designer’s table, but it becomes a key factor even on a construction site, both for resources and materials management and for the control of delivery time and workers safety.
This is why modularization and 3D printing are among the main technology trends in construction.
Important advantages in terms of time, costs and productivity are achieved through a rational process of standardization, modularization and pre-manufacturing in an organized context with high efficiency, where the same workers who worked on site, today perform better in a factory. By transferring production indoors, many downtimes lapse, typically due to adverse weather conditions, while the precision of the final product increases.
Hence, the development of design with interchangeable modules and the evolution of the construction sites, obtained on one hand by adding digital intelligence and on the other transforming it into an assembly terminal for off-site construction, largely made in factories, with important advantages in terms of efficiency and environmental impact.
Connected to, and therefore initially limited by, the choice of material that could be used for the production of components of any nature (mainly plastics, resins and ceramics), today the technological evolution allows you to bypass this obstacle, enabling direct printing of traditional materials, such as clays, concretes and even steel, as well in the construction industry.
Consistent with the modern issues of energy saving and sustainability in the construction sector, 3D printing has the potential to substantially encourage optimization of resources management and reduce production times and costs, as well as raw materials waste.
3D printing of structural and non-structural components simplifies direct production on site, as well as the production of unique pieces that are made for specific supplying, with particular design and finishing characteristics.
Here is an example of a 3D printing model that we have described in a our previous post: