Updated Nov 16th 2021
We’re often asked how construction will change in the future. And, in our opinion, the answer is, “In the same way it always has. By developing and adopting new technologies to make the business of construction safer, more efficient and less environmentally detrimental.”
The historical driving factor for most construction industry changes has been minimising risk – risk to workers, risk to the environment and risk to productivity and cost. And of course, although today’s developments in the digital space are new, the motivations behind them are as old as time.
Tech developers are releasing construction industry tools at a rapid rate right now. They’re developing new ones every day, all of which aim to solve the wide range of problems that can arise on a construction site. And almost all of those problems relate to risk.
Risk types and other problems
When we talk about risk, we’re not only referring to safety risks. In an industry where margins are small and variables are high, creating as much control and certainty as possible is essential.
The four main types of risk we see are:
Digitisation, process automation and IoT have all evolved to offer technological answers to common problems. However, they’ve brought with them a range of teething pains and new problems to solve, including:
- too much data
- not enough information
- a knowledge gap between the skills of the workers and the capabilities of the tech.
To help address these issues, we’re seeing emerging trends in the construction industry that include data fusion platforms, video analytics, machines and robots, and virtual reality. These technologies all counter the issues above by automating and streamlining the workflows of the past.
These tech solutions actively make building less risky, more efficient and safer for everyone involved in the project – from the investors to the labourers.
Here’s a more in-depth exploration of the top five trends we’re seeing right now for the digital construction sites of the future.
Future of Construction Trend #1 – Data Fusion Platforms
IoT and telemetry are certainly not new concepts in construction, but the way the industry uses this information is changing. Up until relatively recently, systems tended to collect and store data separately in silos, making it available only when someone sought it out.
In many cases, this created more problems than it solved for plant owners and operators. Sure, the rich data existed. But it wasn’t readily available, and the people who needed it couldn’t utilise – or often even easily access – it.
Today, both large and small players in construction increasingly use data fusion platforms, like Perspio, to organise and analyse whatever their machines (and other external data sources) are telling them. This data then informs and drives the future of process automation, site efficiency, HR and worker safety.
The rollout of IOT platforms like Perspio is viewed as a critical enabler toward Increasing the efficiency of the construction sector. As Fang Chen, Distinguished Professor at the University of Technology Sydney points out, “Construction-related spending accounts for 13% of the world’s GDP, however the sector’s annual productivity growth remains stagnant, at about 1% over the last 20 years.”
“Inauro is a scalable platform which demonstrated real use in construction. We believe this kind of innovation is going to help the sector to increase productivity”, said Fang.
Inauro’s data fusion platform PerspioTM has recently been named winner In the Smart Data Use and Infrastructure Construction categories, and Angus Kennard, our Co-CEO and Co-Founder was a Finalist In the IoT Champion award. Further, Perspio has been shortlisted in the IoT Global Awards, which honours the most innovative companies, products and individual talent across 11 IoT industry categories.
Future of Construction Trend #2 – Artificial Intelligence – Computer Vision
Smart construction technology isn’t just about data and IoT. Applying advancements made from the self-driving car industry BuildAI has developed autonomous recognition of construction data using advanced AI techniques. Using various sensors and site cameras BuildAI can automatically oversee all critical activities associated with the construction site. Connecting hourly site progress metrics, at a granular level, and unlocking QA applications such as evidence backed concrete-pour-quality records. Others use drones with cameras that digitally analyse truck loading numbers, speed, efficiency and volume.
The days of using video just for surveillance purposes are gone, moving forward, video will be used commonly to harvest site data and create opportunities to drive efficiencies. Expect to see more video analytics on construction sites, along with surveying – they will also be analysing a range of site activities for possible risks. And expect to see it all running without the help of human intelligence.
Future of Construction Trend #3 – Machines and bots
In an industry where labour accounts for a whopping third of the cost, it’s no surprise that smart construction companies are introducing machines and robots into the fold.
However, while the technology exists, and we know that bots are safer than human operators in most situations, this is by no means a simple road to travel. That’s because the technology has developed faster than industry training has. Reskilling the workforce to operate these bots effectively will take time, but the change is beginning.
So although some industries, such as mining, already use completely automated plant, it’s not commonplace on most construction sites… or not yet. But with safety and efficiency as driving motivators, we expect to see many more bots around civil construction sites in the coming years.
Future of Construction Trend #4 – Digital Twin Technology
Where there is significant investment in data analytics, there is also the possibility of using that data to create digital Twin technology (DT). DT is mainly used today in building management systems and earlier building phases, but we expect to see more in construction in the near future. Originally developed by NASA, Digital Twin Technology isn’t new to science. However, it’s only recently been adopted by a select group of industries, of which construction is one.
The technology involves creating a complete, detailed and interactive digital model of a build, then starting to analyse a range of environmental factors before even breaking ground. Not surprisingly, the insights that operators and project managers can gain from this are momentous. And the outcomes? Seriously informed development planning, operations and project building.
Future of Construction Trend #5 – Virtual Reality
Whilst not a new technology by any stretch, Virtual Reality (VR) has recently become much more accessible. High-quality graphics and affordable VR solutions have set the technology up for common use in many construction industry areas.
And we strongly expect it to become even more commonplace in the near future. From virtual inductions to apprentice training and remote site visits to design modelling, the opportunities that VR makes available are endless.
A safer future for the construction industry
All of these digital trends help to reduce the risks in the construction industry, making it safer for people to work, invest and engage in.
However, while technology is a fantastic tool, it’s a terrible master. Luckily, we’ve now turned a corner to reach a place where data starts working for construction, rather than just creating more checklists and information to manage.
And at the foundation of that change are data fusion platforms, like ours.
Interested in accelerating your construction business’s digital future?
We founded Inauro – Australia’s most innovative IoT company – to deliver unparalleled digital evolution through IOT.
Let our data fusion platform help you to analyse your data, and focus and automate your workflows to improve your construction site operations.