The construction industry is currently undergoing a rapid and long overdue technological change. While most industries had already begun this evolution, the construction sector had been relying on outdated technology that perpetuates longer than necessary construction project build-outs, resulting in costly project overruns. This much needed shift towards cutting edge construction technology is a no-brainer, especially when it enhances profitability, safety and predictability.
Recently, Marc Howe of Sourceable interviewed Dominic Thasarathar, a Construction Industry Strategist at Autodesk. Thasarathar had a lot of great things to say about the construction sector globally and shared some insight into what the future holds for technology advancements in the industry.
New Construction Technology Being Used
Drones, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), 3D printing, big data, and BIM are some of the new technologies that are shaping the new construction landscape. These technologies will primarily affect two areas:
- Big data and cloud computing
- Prefab and additive manufacturing
Big Data and Cloud Computing
Big data and cloud computing is expected to have an immense impact on the design and management of construction projects.
“The cloud offers almost infinite computing power, giving you access to hundreds of thousands of CPUs that engage in parallel processing” said Thasarathar.
But how do you take all of this data and make it actionable? Optioneering is one answer. Optioneering is ingesting the immense amounts of raw data, massaging it to ideally create some intrinsic value from it, and then figuring out the best options or ways to use the data to increase productivity and profitability.
The most successful construction companies will be the ones that can optioneer raw data, combined with cloud solutions, to create a competitive advantage.
“We’re also starting to see early examples of data mining, big data and predictive analytics open up in construction now, that are really helping to deliver those steep changes in productivity, waste reduction, and the acceleration of schedules,” said Thasarathar.
Prefab and Additive Manufacturing
Another interesting trend within construction is the intersection of prefab and additive manufacturing and how it will transform the process of physically building and delivering new construction projects.
“Over the next five years, we’ll see an increasing percentage of the world’s buildings and infrastructure being prefabricated and then shipped around the world to be assembled on site,” said Thasarathar.
Prefabbing isn’t anything new, but it is now just being pushed forward and accelerated by these digital technologies.
The use of prefab and 3D printing has increased too, which has also increased the physical delivery of different infrastructure assets.
Thasarathar states, “It’s already possible today to print 80 different types of material, including steel and glass and ceramic, and it’s still just early days.”
As 3D printing technology is used more frequently, with increased applications, and different kinds of materials and project types,3D printing could completely change the process of physical delivery.
The Future Is Now
It’s clear that emerging technologies like drones, AR, VR, 3D printing, big data, and BIM will facilitate great improvements to the building and development process, by mitigating risk and uncertainty, and reducing waste and rework.
These improvements will enhance the overall attractiveness of construction projects for investors by “cutting down risk and increasing predictability”, which will also increase the “flow of capital”.
Investors need to be confident that if they put their money into a project, they are going to get their return within a very predictable timeframe.
Thasarathar said it best when he commented, “Investors are more likely to come on board because their project isn’t going to go over budget and isn’t going to blow out its schedule, but is going to conform to the original business rationale – it all comes down to reducing the construction risk in order to get money to flow.”
Are you ready for the future? Take a big first step by putting all your documents in the cloud, and keep your project team up to date with the latest plans and models.
How has construction technology improved your jobsite?
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