Today, technology has become an integral part of most businesses. Its increasing importance has become so intertwined with data that it has become a part of every enterprise.
In the past, construction and engineering industries have been among some of the more traditional sectors in terms of digital integration. There are a few factors that could be contributing to the slow uptake. One of the most prevalent is that various stakeholder groups, involved in various phases can hinder quick progression. This is because many parties need to agree on the best course of action before moving forward.
Another key factor is that construction still relies on tangibles such as bricks, mortar and labour in order to operate. Built environment industries may have largely worked the same way they always have but over the past few years, as technology drives us forward, these industries are making serious efforts to streamline their operations. As demand for construction projects is expected to grow significantly over the coming years, there is a definite need to keep up. It is imperative that the industry adopts more efficient methods to meet rapid urbanisation requirements.
What changes have we already seen?
One of the most notable game-changers in these industries was the introduction of BIM, which massively changed the design and build process. ‘BIM’, or ‘Building Information Model’ is a process that brings together all multi-disciplinary data into a common virtual model allowing multiple teams to gain instant access to up-to-date information. This revolutionary way of working meant that engineers were able to detect any clashes on a 3D model, saving a huge amount of time and in turn, money. BIM was conceptualised in the ’60s and ’70s but wasn’t fully operational in the mainstream until much later. Now, many recognise the use of this process as standard.
Drones, VR, 3D scanning, real-time visualisation, 3D printing and the rise of smart buildings have been gradually changing the way our industries operate. Digitalisation also allows for the strengthening of procurement and the wider supply chain. Potential issues can be highlighted before they become a problem, allowing teams more opportunity to source the materials they need when they need them.
What’s in store?
We may be a few years away from a fully robotic construction industry, but it might be a lot closer than you think. Manufacturing companies have been using these types of technology for years to streamline production so it’s not too far-fetched to imagine a world where dangerous, laborious construction jobs are handed over to machines.
In fact, automated digital robotic systems are already being trialled and piloted on construction sites today. At the moment, there is still a lot of work to be done to get these systems up to scratch as operators have reported varying levels of success but it is important to know that this type of tech is on the horizon and improving constantly.