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It may have been notorious for its environmental impact and dangerous working environments in the not so distant past, but the construction industry’s reputation is very different today.
It’s all thanks to the huge wave of exciting and disruptive technological advances that have swept across it in recent years. From virtual reality training programmes to the development of 3D modelling, researchers have come up with modern, tech-based solutions for practically every stage of a build.
So what emerging areas and technologies should we be keeping an eye on? And what’s bringing about the biggest improvements?
Here’s our pick of four innovations that are set to revolutionise the construction industry.
Take a look.
#1: 3D printing
The potential uses for 3D printing in construction are almost endless, so, unsurprisingly, it’s a technology that industry leaders are paying close attention to. Some are looking at completing entire construction projects with only 3D printing technology – Dutch company MX3D is already attempting to manufacture a steel bridge in this way. But in reality, issues with quality control means 3D printing will most likely be used on a much smaller scale to develop parts and components, rather than a whole structure.
#2: Inspection software
There aren’t many businesses that can survive the financial fallout of legal trouble, so one of the biggest challenges for construction companies is ensuring their sites and equipment meet the strict health and safety regulations imposed on them. Motion Software has responded to this issue by developing innovative LOLER inspection software that helps users build a thorough record of their compliance. It’s already proved hugely popular across both the construction and energy industries, and is now used by 6,000 inspectors around the world.
#3: Virtual Reality (VR) technology
VR tech may have once been the stuff of sci-fi films and novels, but it’s fast becoming a viable and effective tool for several different industries. In construction, explorations into how it could be used to help clients visualise finished projects are ongoing, whilst it’s already proved useful in training. Specialist firm ITI:VR, for example, have developed simulations that allow workers to get to grips with crane and rigging activities.
The health and safety benefits are clear – if VR training takes off, all staff could be taught to deal with dangerous situations and pieces of equipment offsite and free of harm.
#4: Building Information Modelling (BIM)
In the decade or so since Building Information Modelling (BIM) came about, it’s managed to revolutionise the way the construction industry works and establish itself as a key piece of tech for the future. It’s used to create 3D images of proposed projects, which builders and architects can then study and manipulate to figure out the most effective design, all before even starting any actual work.
Plans can be quickly adapted, reducing costly mistakes and allowing higher safety and environmental standards to be enforced. It’s by no means a cheap investment for business owners, but the longterm benefits far outweigh the initial cost.
These standout innovations are already being incorporated into day-to-day operations by big and small construction businesses, but they’re not the only ones. With new gadgets released all the time, the construction industry’s technological revolution is far from over.
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