Construction Technology

Posted by Brett Long

If it’s not broken don’t fix it, right? Despite technological progress, it’s not uncommon for construction companies to still rely on spreadsheets, manual data entry, and paperwork. Low IT budgets and lack of time for training have contributed to a hesitancy around adopting new methods and technology.

Emerging construction technology isn’t just a fad or a fun new toy. There are real, practical applications and benefits to modernizing your current processes. And if your construction company wants to remain competitive and not be left behind, you’ll need to find ways to integrate new approaches into your strategy and workflows.

These cutting-edge technologies are drastically changing how the industry operates and how future projects will be completed.

Types of Construction Technology Impacting the Industry:

  • Mobile Technology
  • Drones
  • Building Information Monitoring (BIM)
  • Virtual Reality and Wearables
  • 3D Printing
  • Artificial Intelligence

1. Mobile Technology

Mobile technology isn’t just for games anymore. Apps are becoming more of the norm in construction and for good reason. The increased portability of tablets and smartphones allows for greater communication and the ability to work from anywhere. Integrating this type of technology into your current processes can be much simpler and require a smaller upfront investment while still providing major benefits and boosting productivity in your day-to-day operations. So if you want to start implementing technology, this is a good place to start.

Mobile technology can help to save time and keep your project moving forward faster by providing real-time updates and making information available between the job site and the office. You can easily access the latest revisions to plans or report a problem to the project manager off-site.

2. Drones

Drones are the most widely used emerging construction technology. They can conduct site surveys more quickly and accurately than a crew on the ground and are cheaper than aerial imaging. Their high-resolution cameras and the data collected can create interactive 3D or topographical maps and models and take volume measurements.

Another benefit of using drones is the ability to inspect hard-to-reach places such as bridges or around tall buildings, and to do it safely. You can also use them to monitor progress on a job site and see how people are working.

3. Building Information Modeling (BIM)

BIM is similar to CAD (computer-aided design), but not exactly the same. It is software for 3D design to digitally model what will be built. But its capabilities don’t stop there: “It doesn’t just create a visually appealing 3D model of your building—it creates numerous layers of metadata and renders them within a collaborative workflow,” writes Engineering.com. It captures things in a way that paper just can’t.

32.7% of builders are currently using BIM/CAD software, JBKnowledge reports in their 2016 survey. The use of BIM has even been mandated in the UK for government construction projects.

The use of BIM provides space for better collaboration because each person and expertise area can add their piece to the same model, instead of breaking out onto multiple versions of a 2D paper drawing. This way, the model evolves immediately as people contribute, streamlining the process and increasing efficiency. BIM also helps with problem-solving in the design and planning stages of a project, by automating clash detection and providing a more complete picture of the project.

4. Virtual Reality and Wearables

Virtual reality technology is often used in conjunction with BIM to help better understand complex projects. Think of the potential: you create a building design with BIM and can then use VR to actually walk around it. Pretty cool, right? This will give your team, or the client an even more realistic idea of what the project will look like once completed. Having a more complete grasp on the project before it begins allows you to avoid big changes and expensive change orders mid-way through.

Wearables are a construction technology that will have an impact on job site safety and risk management. The Daqri smart glasses, though still in the early stages, are one example. The glasses have an augmented reality display, wide-angle camera, depth sensor, and other features that allow workers to collect and see data based on their environment. The glasses give workers the information and instructions they need to complete a task right on the display, getting the job done faster and with less room for error.

5. 3D Printing

3D printing as a construction technology has the potential to change material sourcing. For prefabrication, materials for a project can be printed and then transported to the job site, ready for use immediately. This can allow you to get materials faster and streamline the process by removing extra steps in the middle.

According to the U.K. Green Building Council, around 15% of materials delivered to construction sites end up in landfills, and the American Institute of Architects believes that building-related waste makes up between 25% to 40% of America’s solid-waste stream, reports Fortune. With 3D printing it will even be possible to print materials right on site, reducing waste and further saving on transportation and storage costs.

One of the current challenges with the adoption of this technology is limitations with mass production. Although some 3D printers can produce on a larger scale, they are expensive.

6. Artificial Intelligence

The construction industry is already seeing the implementation of artificial intelligence on the job site with the use of robotics for tasks like bricklaying and autonomous equipment that can operate and complete tasks without the need for human interaction.

AI can benefit construction projects through increased safety, improving workflows, and getting jobs done faster and better. “AI can replicate the judgments, decisions, and actions of humans without getting fatigued,” said Dan Kara of ABI Research. It can also identify when information or pieces are missing and ask questions, and use the data it collects.

Sources
Device Magic
UK Connect


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About Sasha Anderson

Millennial Mom + wife living the hash-tag life. Remember: If You Fail - Fail Forward

3D Construction

3D Construction

A very very interesting topic that I am happy to write about. I first heard of 3D printing about 4 years ago when plastic moulds and items were being made, only to find out after doing research, that the concept of 3D printing has been around longer than I have! The concept of 3D printing first came about in 1974.

As per Wikipedia, “1974: David E. H. Jones laid out the concept of 3D printing in his regular column Ariadne in the journal New Scientist. 1981: Early additive manufacturing equipment and materials were developed in the 1980s. In 1981, Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute invented two additive methods for fabricating three-dimensional plastic models with photo-hardening thermoset polymer, where the UV exposure area is controlled by a mask pattern or a scanning fibre transmitter. On July 2, 1984, American entrepreneur Bill Masters filed a patent for his Computer Automated Manufacturing Process and System (US 4665492). This filing record shows UPTO as the first 3D printing patent in history; it was the first of three patents belonging to Masters that laid the foundation for the 3D printing systems used today.”
There are many materials you can use when it comes to 3D construction such as plastic or concrete etc but what I am focusing on is 3D concrete construction

1) What is 3D Concrete Construction?

This is a revolutionary tool used in the production method where you can actually print/create solid objects from a digital source in the form of a picture that you have drawn up and uploaded to your 3D printer.

3D concrete printing is used to create or fabricate new shapes of construction components. This was not previously possible using ordinary machinery which now means that you can literally print your dream home.

L2B_3D_1

2) How does it work?

Basically what would happen is you would need to design your house. If you are familiar with CAD, you can design the house yourself or if not, then hire an engineer to assist you. You would upload the file to your printer and create a 3D model or blueprint. The printer will read the files and then get to work.
Instead of hiring a builder to construct each stage of the house from ground level upwards, the printer itself will start printing layers and layers concrete until the structure is complete. It takes your drawings and copies it into a 3D model, making it a reality.

You can also choose if you would like the printer to create or build the whole building in one go from the ground up or print multiple sections that fit together like lego pieces.

A normal printer like one at home or in the office would take ink, but a 3D printer has containers of raw materials such as concrete.

Honestly, when I first heard of 3D printing, they were building a small 3D printed bicycle bridge and having people test it.

L2B_3D_2

Then, they had gone onto building small one-bedroom, one level houses.

L2B_3D_3

 

Now watch this amazing video of the worlds biggest 3D printed building. This building is 2 levels and 640sqm.

3) How does this affect companies within the building and construction industry?

Well, 3D printers are rapidly being used in the construction industry and they are the future but in my opinion, they really are helping the construction industry for the better.

Remember that the 3D printer lays the framework. You can also build facades, roof panels, stairs with this but you would still need to employ infrastructure workers,  plumbers and electricians etc to finish the construction work

4) Advantages

Faster construction – it is said that one house can be built in 24hours. Time is money and who doesn’t like saving money?
Reduces worker fatigue
Increased safety
Fewer work injuries
Design absolutely any building you like
Labour cost savings
Greener – Eco-Friendly by using leftover materials from construction or mining sites
Weather conditions do not affect production
Higher accuracy
Fire resistance

Concrete printing has a lot of advantages over concrete casting. One advantage is that it does not require any formwork. Formwork can easily take up to 50% of costs in concrete construction because it is very labour intensive. Usually, you would have to build a structure and then take it down again. With 3D concrete construction, you would only have one movement. This would print layers without any formwork which saves a lot of time, money and materials.

In 3D concrete printing, they are now aiming for all components of the house to be separate and be easily detachable so that they can be repaired or replaced.

Architects Engineers and Contractors can now take a completely different design approach. They will no longer have to think in terms of straight beams, columns, solid slabs. They can freely experiment with different acoustics and curved shapes. Creativity is the main thing, more flexibility, new ideas and opportunity

5) Disadvantages

The machine itself is costly
The machines vary in size but most are quite large and can cost a heck of a lot to transport to the site
Digital errors can occur
Still costs to hire an engineer/architect to do the drawings.

L2B_3D_1

6) How much time and labour force does it take to set up the 3D printing machine?

Again this depends on the size and type of printer. Let’s talk about the Gantry model, this printer consists of 4 steel columns and three steel beams that enable the printhead to move within the boundaries of the structure. This would typically take up to 4 hours to assemble.However, there are also other types of printers with robotic arms on tracks which could just roll off the truck onto the site and start the printing process immediately. With regards to speed, some machines can build up to 250mm per second with a layer height of 50mm. I read online that a small house of 650 square feet, like a bachelor pad, takes less than 24 hours to build and could cost you around R60 000. R 60 000 for a one-bedroom apartment.

This technology is growing is faster and faster. The shift from prototyping to actual commercial application and implementation in the building industry is happening right now.

Did you know that in October 2019 it was said that Dubai aims to be the leading reprinting hub worldwide?

3D printing technology aids the construction industry but I don’t think it replaces it by any means. There is still a need for various professionals, consultants, contractors, vendors and suppliers. Here at Leads 2 Business, there are still many many project proposals, town planning and construction projects happening daily. Especially the new Mega-Cities and precincts using the “live-work-play concept”. These Projects are proposed for Gauteng and are available on our website.

Questions I would like to ask you – the readers:

1) Do you use a 3D printer at work?
2) How do you feel about 3D technology in the construction industry?
3) Does 3D concrete construction directly affect you?
4) When did you first hear about 3D construction?

Comment below and let me know.

Sources:
Marcorsyscom
Wikimedia
Wikipedia
Youtube
Flickr


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About Michelle Crosby

I started my journey at Leads 2 Business in the Directory Department in 2012. I was then promoted to the Private Projects department in 2014 and have been working as the Regional Gauteng content researcher ever since.