The construction industry faces unprecedented challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is no time like the present to rise to the challenge. In everyday work, managing change is instilled in our routines, such as changes in schedules, budgets, and weather. In light of the COVID-19 virus, change has taken on a new shape for construction businesses—involving new risks and new ways of adjusting.
Some individuals are working remotely from their homes, while others are continuing to work on-site, which requires the implementation of additional safety measures. In these crucial times, construction technology can aid in keeping teams and projects connected and moving forward.
From cloud-based collaboration, robotics, wearable technology, and artificial intelligence, these digital and advanced technologies are impacting the construction industry like never seen before. Below is a preview of the major technologies on which the construction industry is currently focused.
Cloud software is allowing companies to be more agile during the downturn, providing the platform for companies to continue working collaboratively, despite physical restrictions. Every employee can work at the same level they would have in the office. Direct message/video chat, screen sharing, and secure file sharing are some of the tools for keeping remote employees connected. Connected job sites can use cloud technology to make information about almost every aspect of a construction operation available to all the relevant parties, regardless of whether those parties are on-site or elsewhere. This technology allows job sites to deliver powerful analytics to help improve project execution.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to impact construction—from the significant leaps taken in concepts, like the predictive design at the project planning stage, to the spike of intelligent buildings that learn how best to operate themselves and serve their users over time. Just recently, existing technology was quickly adapted to help monitor workers and try to avoid the kind of congestion that could lead to transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The technology vendor added social distancing monitoring as a feature of this specific technology due to its capabilities of capturing so many images on site. These images were able to provide information such as the location of workers and the usage of PPE, like safety gloves. The added feature will alert when people are in close proximity or ten or more are in a group, violating new social distancing rules.
Using drones and robotic solutions are helping with social distancing and are making up for workers who are self-isolating. From autonomous rovers and drones that can increase the efficiency of site inspections, to mechanical arms that automate highly repetitive tasks, like bricklaying and tying rebar, the robotic revolution is set to gain significant popularity. Certain benefits are achieved, such as increasing construction speed, less building-site construction waste, and safer worksites, which result in fewer injuries. Robotics enables skilled workers to spend more time overseeing projects and work in conjunction with these robots to become more efficient. Drones provide mapping and documentation of the site, inspections of structures, percent-complete calculations, and real-time surveillance video.
The combined use of autonomous technology and electric power permits work to take place around the clock without the need for breaks or the disruptive noise levels that prevent such tasks.
Designers and engineers can generate building profiles and building components in real-time and help enable a virtual construction environment. This technology helps in identifying how structures are progressing during the construction phases. Since all data is aggregated into a digital dashboard, project managers and project teams have real-time status updates.
Construction technology providers remain steadfast in bringing people together to facilitate better connectivity, greater transparency, and improved safety.
For help in understanding the implementation of ConTech in a typical workday at a construction company, please contact your CRI advisor for more information and guidance.