Material and labor shortages, emerging technology, transportation delays and other factors have significantly impacted how the construction industry has operated in the last few years. Still, despite the turbulence the industry has experienced, the sector is expected to reach $14.4 trillion in 2030.
Companies can harness emerging construction trends to leverage the shifting market and overcome competition.
10 Construction Industry Trends in 2023
The construction industry is continuously evolving. Emerging technology trends are changing how companies perform different tasks. Explore the trends in the construction industry to expect in 2023 and the coming years.
1. Smart and High-Tech Protective Equipment
Site guidelines were changed to emphasize safety and cleanliness, largely due to COVID-19.
The industry also saw new machines that could identify and eliminate safety issues, such as wearable work boots that can connect to Wi-Fi and alert someone if a person has fallen. Environmental sensors are also gaining traction on construction sites. They help detect heat, winds and noise so workers know when to evacuate themselves and costly construction equipment during a weather event.
Steps are also being taken to incorporate robots on the job site to help improve safety. For example, many construction sites implement material-moving “mules” to transport heavy or hazardous materials to keep workers out of harm’s way. The construction industry also focuses on 3D printing to help reduce transportation risks. High-tech protective equipment will likely show up on more construction sites as more companies prioritize worker safety.
2. More Efficient Technology
New construction technology also aims to increase efficiency and productivity. In turn, it can streamline different processes to save valuable time and money. Examples of this technology you’ll likely see more of include:
Construction drones: Drones in the construction industry are one of the most popular technological trends continuing in 2023. Drones are useful for construction projects, mapping large areas and providing real-time information that can help streamline processes and improve decision-making.
Smart contracts: This technology helps organizations have a shared system to conduct business, enabling them to buy, track and pay for their services. Smart contracts are an all-in-one system that can help increase security, speed up closeouts, automate the supply chain and improve project tracking.
Augmented reality (AR): AR is quickly becoming more popular within the construction industry, making it easier for project staging and allowing buyers and tenants to view tangible images before construction begins or in the middle of projects. AR technology can also enable construction companies to obtain automated measurements, train workers, and simulate structural or architectural changes quickly and affordably. AR in the construction industry is projected to reach $150 billion by 2030.
Building information modeling (BIM): This technology helps construction companies improve their efficiency and stand out. BMI enables construction companies to create models of buildings and streamline the part prefabrication, improving the accuracy of builds. You can easily build and manage facilities and infrastructure through this technology, and there’s plenty of BIM software to consider. Over 98% of U.S. large architecture firms have employed BIM.
3. Green Construction
Green construction or building has become the new standard for renters, commercial tenants and homebuyers. As sustainability and ecotech become more mainstream in the next decade, costs for eco-friendly materials should start to decrease and become more commonplace.
Green construction refers to technology that can help reduce a building’s carbon footprint and the allocation of resources and building models to help reduce overall use. Renewable energy, such as solar, is becoming more popular among homebuyers and renters. This can increase costs for construction companies, as growing commodity prices have increased costs to produce solar panels, biofuels and wind turbines worldwide. Many eco-friendly features in a construction project are still considered investments, despite their long-term savings.
Another popular choice for urban areas is green scaping, which involves equipping rooftops with small parks and plants. These buildings are often built horizontally rather than vertically, which helps increase the available space for these green scapes.
Green scapes offer resistance against storms and provide natural insulation. A green roof stores water by the substrate. Water is then evaporated and returned to the atmosphere. As a result, the green scape reduces the amount of stormwater runoff, delaying the time the runoff occurs. In turn, it reduces stress on sewer systems at peak flow periods.
By increasing insulation, a green roof can decrease the amount of energy required to regulate building temperature — considering roofs are largely responsible for heat loss in winter and hot temperatures during summer.
4. More Diverse Workforce
One of the most notable trends continuing into 2023 is the increased demand for labor and a shortage of workers.
As a result, the construction industry is encouraging more women and Generation Zers to enter the workforce. There’s been a newfound shift in attitudes regarding trade schools, which enables construction companies to recruit more workers, boost their career growth and take advantage of new technology.
5. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing technology allows construction companies to store and access data on demand, making information retrieval simpler and more efficient. In 2023, you can expect the industry’s reliance on cloud computing to increase. This solution enables remote access to construction project data, streamlines collaboration and allows for easy data sharing.
6. Remote Work and Mobile Access
It doesn’t sound possible in the construction industry, but remote work is a growing trend. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many industries to switch to remote work, including construction. As a result, mobile access and remote work became more common within the industry. Research shows that 15%-20% of construction employees now spend their time on tasks that can be completed remotely.
Mobile applications now allow construction companies to offer worksite access like never before. Some apps can take accurate measurements using a smartphone camera, improve on-site accountability or offer real-time inspections. This technology was helpful during the pandemic, but as we’re starting to emerge from lockdowns and other restrictions, construction companies still use it.
7. Increasing Material Costs
When COVID-19 shutdowns first occurred, material costs rose due to limited availability, transportation delays and lockdowns in various countries. Building material costs have increased by 33% since the beginning of COVID-19.
Many countries still experience the effects of these situations. Labor shortages also make it more challenging to keep up with demand and are driving up wages. As a result, material prices are expected to continue increasing in 2023.
Technological innovations and materials can also contribute to increased costs, even though these are designed to save on costs in the future. Some of these materials include:
Invisible solar cells
While it can be hard to predict precisely how material prices will fluctuate throughout the year, construction companies should anticipate some increases in material costs, especially as the United States continues to experience inflation throughout all sectors.
Many construction companies are shifting towards using new materials to reduce costs and improve sustainability. Some of the options available on the market currently include:
3D printed materials: 3D printing technology is revolutionizing the construction industry, helping companies create walls, floors, concrete and other building materials needed for construction.
Recycled materials: Recyclable construction materials aren’t new to the industry, but they’re now being used to construct entire structures.
Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC): ECC is a bendable concrete with polymer fibers, making it more resilient than traditional concrete. ECC is more cost-effective for many construction companies and helps them decrease their carbon footprint, which is essential as more consumers become eco-conscious.
Engineered timber: You can find different types of engineered timber on the market, created by arranging several types of softwood together. The result is a material product that has the strength to replace concrete and steel. Engineered timber can also help with lumber shortages. Limiting steel and concrete usage can help reduce emissions and lessen waste during material manufacturing.
8. Modular and Offsite Construction
Modular or offsite construction is constructing most of a building or structure before taking it to the construction site. These structures are assembled at another location for the construction company or the manufacturers before being taken to the site. The finishing touches are completed at the construction site.
New technology is helping the modular construction sector experience rapid growth, allowing construction companies to reduce their on-site construction. Offsite construction can also streamline construction projects, helping workers complete a quality build more quickly. You can save on material and shipping costs with modular construction, which can improve your bottom line.
This sector also experienced labor and material shortages like other construction companies. Despite these challenges, the popularity of modular construction continues to hold strong. Construction companies should expect to see more contractors utilizing modular construction services in 2023 and the coming years. The global offsite construction market was $72.11 billion in 2020. It’s expected to reach $114.78 billion by 2028.
9. Rise of Smart Cities
Many large corporations, such as Microsoft, are looking into investments in smart cities. These cities are more interconnected and intricate than traditional ones, requiring intensive planning and development before construction can begin. The smart city market is expected to grow to $6,965.02 billion by 2030, and more construction companies will start to work on these projects.
Some notable smart city projects include Hudson Yards in New York City, Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates and India’s Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. These projects are expected to improve modern infrastructure, environmental health and the economy.
Smart cities utilize information and communication technology to share information with the public, improve operational efficiency, and enhance government services and citizen livelihoods. Experts predict that 80% of people will live in cities by 2050, so there’s an increasing need for smart and sustainable cities.
Some roles the construction industry will take to improve the sustainability of these cities include:
Installing “smart roads” to help reduce emissions and fuel costs.
Making waste management changes, including smart bins and data collection to improve garbage collection.
Adjusting public transportation using sensors and real-time data to detect high passenger volumes and traffic accidents.
Measuring noise levels, air quality and energy with sensors.
Construction companies can prepare for these innovations by understanding the necessary skills and equipment to construct smart cities and planning for the government’s response to this shift.
10. Increasing Pressure on the Bottom Line
While construction revenue has been increasing in recent months, many companies still see slim net profits, leaving little room for unplanned expenses. On top of challenges with profits, construction materials and inflation are also affecting construction companies’ bottom lines. As a result, construction companies are looking for ways to be more profitable.
Construction companies can work toward this in different ways, including negotiating with suppliers or automating parts of the workforce. Construction companies must prioritize cost-savings and efficiency to help them increase their profits. You’ll also want to consider how the fluctuating cost of materials will affect:
Quotes and estimates.
Available funds and budgets.
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Take Off Professionals (TOPS) can help you utilize technology to keep up with emerging trends and revolutionize your construction projects. We offer various machine control data and preparation services, including:
Our data modeling services focus on your projects, allowing you to improve their performance from start to finish.
We can work with you on various levels, making it easy for you to reduce or increase our participation in your projects to fit your needs. If you want to be more accurate with your data, contact us today for a quote from one of our experts.
3D technology is a relatively new emerging tool with the potential to impact the roadwork construction industry significantly. Integrating 3D-engineered modeling into highway building and repair projects can help make them more efficient, benefiting construction workers and the general public alike.
Here we discuss what 3D technology is, how you can use it in roadwork projects and how it can ultimately benefit the industry as a whole.
How Is 3D Technology Used in Road Construction?
3D technology is a digital modeling tool construction teams can use to plan and execute roadway construction projects. Replacing traditional two-dimensional paper plans, 3D technology is a quicker, more cost-effective way to construct, maintain, survey and repair highways.
3D technology-rendered models are the result of comprehensive appraisal, design and coordination efforts. They produce a computerized depiction that accurately shows the existing site conditions and the designer’s intent. Contractors can use these 3D-engineered models to deliver a road construction project faster and with better accuracy than traditional 2D tools allow.
The process of creating a 3D model begins with an aerial scan of the project site. Engineers use pilotless aircraft, such as drones, to survey the site. The aircraft transmits the data it collects to a scanning station, where designers use it to render a 3D representation of the construction site.
A complete 3D-engineered model includes the initial survey data along with suggested vertical and horizontal alignments, features and structures for the future site.
How 3D Technology Applies to Highway Construction
Whether contractors are building new roads or updating existing ones, 3D technology can help make the process safer, more precise and more efficient. Contractors can use 3D technology for automated machine control, project management and quality assurance.
For instance, 3D laser scanning allows construction workers to scan and record critical information about the road, using this data to develop an accurate plan. They can also prioritize problem areas to avoid potential issues during construction, thus speeding up overall project completion times and reducing traffic.
Additionally, 3D technology makes it easier to move and measure asphalt. Construction workers traditionally used milling machines for concrete removal. A 3D scanner helps them digitally detect the amount of asphalt they need to remove. Then, they can measure the precise amount of concrete they must pour to repair the road. Again, this can speed up the project completion time.
Read on to learn more about each of these innovative applications.
Automated Machine Control
GPS machine control negates the need for extensive staking and produces more accurate results. You can use it with the following roadwork construction equipment:
Grading equipment: Machine-controlled grading equipment, such as dozers, motor graders and scrapers, provide data on the cutting edge’s position relative to the design surface, with no grade stakes needed.
Excavators: Excavators outfitted with GPS or laser-controlled sensors can accurately measure slope, reach and elevation. The operator can visualize the elevation of the design and the tip of the excavator bucket.
Compaction equipment: 3D technology-equipped compaction machinery like rollers lets the operator see live data on surface compaction directly beneath the roller as it moves. This intelligent compaction allows the roller to meet density requirements with fewer passes, cutting fuel and labor expenses.
Milling and paving equipment: 3D technology controls the vertical alignment of a milling machine’s rotors. 3D milling equipment can use information from a data station to modify slope and elevation, eliminating extraneous work from placing and readjusting stakes.
Scheduling, Cost Estimating and Project Management
3D-engineered models can help civil contractors with cost estimating, scheduling and project management. In addition to streamlining the project for the contractor, these applications provide more value to the project owner. 3D technology enables the following:
Earthwork quantity estimation: While earthwork quantity estimations are a crucial part of any project, they require significant amounts of time. It’s also often challenging to produce them with the high level of accuracy they require. 3D technology can render highly accurate quantity estimations in short periods. The computer effectively determines the cut-and-fill amount at small intervals throughout the model limits. The digital terrain model can also efficiently balance earthwork and propose haul routes.
Facilities management: Civil integrated management involves the procurement, organization and accessibility of a highway facility’s precise information and data. This data includes planning, surveying, design, construction, maintenance, asset management and risk assessment. Civil integrated management syncs the designer’s 3D-engineered model with cost and schedule information to create a model that all project stakeholders can view.
Quality Assurance and Post-Construction
In addition to efficient scheduling and cost savings, 3D technology can also improve the quality assurance process during roadwork construction. With traditional 2D construction methods, inspectors must rely on grade stakes and 2D paper plans to ensure that grading operations follow the design. With 3D technology, inspectors can use handheld GPS devices to spot-check horizontal offsets and elevations.
The 3D-engineered model’s proposed grading surface lets inspectors perform random spot checks with GPS rovers to ensure the ground is graded correctly. The handheld GPS equipment compares the currently graded elevations to the proposed design surface at all locations within the 3D-engineered model’s limits.
Inspectors can also spot-check elevations behind the paver to confirm the paving machinery is set up and operating correctly. Contractors can rectify any discrepancies quickly, reducing the amount of rework needed.
How Can 3D Technology Help Roadway Construction?
The applications above do more than simply modernize roadwork construction — they benefit it in multiple ways. When civil contractors use 3D technology, they’ll experience the following:
Faster Project Completion
With guidance from 3D-engineered model data, GPS-enabled machinery can operate all day and night and produce accurate grades on the first pass. In addition to decreasing waste and economizing resources, machine-controlled equipment’s first-pass accuracy helps contractors complete their jobs faster.
Better Cost Predictability
A 3D-engineered model lets clients and contractors see all project elements and how they interact, giving them access to the information they need to make decisions. Roadwork construction 3D technology allows engineers to quickly input the items they want to quantify and receive their numbers.
Integrating costs can help build an accurate budget and reduce cost overruns. Options like 5D models incorporate costs into the project. Contactors and clients can see when they’ll receive invoices for materials and when they’ll need to pay.
Less Asphalt Wastage Due to Precise Milling Depth
Using traditional milling equipment to remove asphalt is a wasteful approach. With machine control, operators can adjust the depth of asphalt they remove in real-time, producing less waste. 3D machine control helps the operator optimize the work and make it more precise. It speeds up the overall process and reduces the risk of making a mistake. As a result, the operator is less likely to have to start over, saving both time and money.
GPS machine control technology reduces milling depth in low points of a road, such as potholes, ruts or sunken culverts. At the same time, it increases milling depth at higher points of the road. It also avoids milling too deep, eliminating the risk of penetrating the asphalt to the granular.
Precise milling depth measurements enable pavers to enhance a road’s water drainage profile and produce a smoother surface. They also allow road crews to more accurately determine the exact material quantities they’ll need.
Less Room for Human Error
Few things are more frustrating in road construction than pouring concrete only to tear it back up later due to an error. While 2D construction plans work well enough to design highway systems, there can be disconnects between what’s on paper and what’s in the field. 2D plans usually include cross sections at every 50 or 100 feet, leaving the contractor to interpret the plans in between. This approach presents an opportunity for error. Misunderstandings can lead to inaccuracies, which ultimately result in a loss for everyone involved.
3D-engineered modeling lets contractors know exactly what to expect. With their unrivaled precision and accuracy, digital models significantly reduce errors. When you catch mistakes during the design phase, you can address them for a fraction of the cost of fixing them on-site.
With a 3D rendering, designers can immediately detect if something looks off. The software naturally provides clash detection by showing the entire project — if pipes intersect or contact a bridge footing, it’s immediately visible. 2D plans aren’t capable of displaying these conflicts, but a 3D model is essentially one large cross section, providing a whole new level of detail.
All the items in a 3D-engineered model are spatially related. The designer can view the model from various perspectives, such as elevation and isometric views, which helps them visualize the data. An engineer’s ability to identify design and constructability concerns before the proposal reaches the field decreases the chance of costly errors.
Higher Transparency for Stakeholders
3D-engineered models allow road construction contractors to walk through their projects before they pour an ounce of concrete.
Stakeholders can use virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) to view the project before getting underway. VR and AR improve communication and help with the integration of ideas. It also simplifies the process, giving stakeholders a clear idea of what they can expect from the project.
In addition to informing stakeholders, 3D technology can help give the public an idea of future developments. Giving the public more insight into these development plans opens the floor to their own input. You can use public feedback to find ways to better serve the community, integrating their ideas into the project.
Those outside of engineering and construction may find it challenging to visualize project elements by looking at drawings. Using 3D models in public meetings can help show laypeople precisely what the project will look like when it’s complete.
Lower Overall Cost
Though it has higher upfront costs, 3D technology can be worth the investment, as it helps civil contractors save money through the course of the project. This more than compensates for the initial design fee.
3D models can cost up to 10% more than the average design fee. While that’s a significant expense, you can save about 4% on the construction project overall. That means a 3D-engineered model for a $500-million project could save you $20 million.
3D modeling provides more precise results, warranting fewer changes and saving time and money. Automating tasks like subgrade, base course and pavement placement eliminates human oversight, reducing room for costly errors.
Enhanced Project Safety
3D technology automates tasks such as staking, stringing lines, drawing fill lines and setting grade stakes. Traffic is one of the main safety hazards for surveyors because it hinders their physical ability to measure the construction site while also putting them in danger of an automobile accident. Surveyors are often in the crosshairs of distracted drivers and other roadside hazards. Lane closures are an effective way of obtaining the data necessary to base map a project, but they require careful planning and significant expenses.
3D technology is a risk-free way to survey a project site. Mobile, aerial or terrestrial light detection and ranging are all surveying solutions that remove personnel from the hazardous roadside. Drones give construction project managers a detailed view of the site. Managers can survey difficult-to-reach areas without extra time delays or safety equipment. Drones are equipped with infrared cameras, radar and rangefinders to perform various inspection tasks.
Real-Time Control and Monitoring of Movement and Location
Intelligent technology like 3D models, on-site laser-based positioning systems and GPS machine control can help engineers control location changes and movement. Machine operators can also perform cuts, fills and grades with high precision automatically or with direction from an onboard system.
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A change came about at the beginning of the 2023 year that can have an impact on you and the survey work you do in the office and the field. The new rule:
The United States will retire the use of the US Survey Foot and unilaterally adopt the International Foot as the standard of survey measurement.
Until now, only 5 states have used the International Foot. The US Foot is a ratio and is not an exact conversion like the International. From a geodetic standpoint, this new standard will improve accuracy. The International Foot is 2 feet per million feet longer than the US Foot. This will allow you to look at the coordinates of your location instead of focusing on the size of your job.
Learn how the International Foot can affect your survey work and how to easily adopt the new standard in the field and at the office with best practices.
See the International Foot in Action
When using state plane coordinates, we are often 2-4 million feet in the coordinates of our work. If the job is produced on one unit type, then changed to the other, the job has now shifted 2 feet per million feet in both the north and east grid directions with non-affected elevations.
To illustrate further, here is a job started with a US Survey Feet point drawn at N1,000,000 E1,000,000.
Now, let’s update the point drawn in US Survey feet by changing the units:
If the survey standard unit changes to the International Foot, you can see the 2-foot shift in the entire job with updated coordinate points.
In the past when the US failed to adopt the metric system, plans were drawn in a metric that was worked on for ten years after an idea was abandoned. Similar outcomes are expected to happen with this new transition as well. Realizing the big impact that changing units can have on your jobsite, it is important to have best practices put into place so that you are set up for success and rework can be prevented.
Best Practices Moving Forward
Units should be listed within the first few pages of the job plans, so the next steps are identified. Over the next few years, while jobsites are being acclimated, here are some action items to keep your work updated and ready to transition.
It is imperative that all parties use the same units. The job does not necessarily need to shift right away. If ALL parties are staying with US Feet, you can localize and continue.
Do not rely on Google Earth to verify your current unit’s accuracy. It’s not a very reliable resource.
Have control pointson the jobas you are building the model. It is the definitive test as to the correct units. Based on the previous example, if the control point was 1,000,000/1,000,000 you would know you were measuring in US Feet. As long as everybody stays there, you can proceed.
Problems can arise when somebody changes units either in the office or the field. So, taking the correct steps to manage the file and jobsite correctly between both places is imperative. Here are two checklists for teams in both places to reference:
In the Office
Verify units by having control points before sending the job to the field.
If you make the job in one unit type and switch to the other, make sure you export all the job files after you have shifted the job.
Add a suffix to the job file. Now it has job name-date-units. An Example would be QuickTrip3385 010123 IFT (or USFT).
At some point in the model-building process, send an email and receive a response including the project units.
Software types behave differently. Some will shift coordinates and not present a warning while others will. Know your software.
Final review needs to include the control points. Make sure the coordinates and points make it to the field for verification.
In the Field
Know your units and do not change them between data collectors and machines.
Calibrate the job with the units being used by everyone. The coordinates of your control points must match the surveyor.
The elevation does not change if the coordinates are shifted, no need to worry about that.
Upon starting for the day, check in to a known point for verification. This can be a control point or one you set yesterday before stopping for the day for ease of access.
You might not initially think that construction and technology go hand in hand. But looking at the industry’s history and how modern construction processes and techniques differ from those of a century ago makes it easy to see the importance of technology in construction. One way to get a sense of how the construction industry has developed or evolved over time is to look at the tools people use. As the construction industry has developed, the available positions have also changed. Many construction companies now look to hire people with technology and construction skills. In some cases, the blend of modern technology with construction has created jobs that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
Technology Is Changing the Construction Industry
Technology has shaped the construction industry since the beginning. The invention of power tools in the late 19th century meant that people could work more quickly. The development of heavy equipment also streamlined the work process and allowed projects to grow bigger while reducing the cost of the projects. Other advancements also allowed for new types of projects. Elevators, for instance, allowed buildings to reach sky-high, rather than limiting them to being just a few stories tall. The impact of technology on the construction industry continues today. While power equipment and automated equipment accelerate projects and eliminate the need for human workers to perform repetitive tasks, the development of software tools, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are continuing to alter the construction landscape. Changes in the way the world approaches work have accompanied technological advances in construction. Like many industries, the construction industry had to pivot and adjust once the COVID-19 pandemic began. One notable shift was that to remote work. While many project elements still need to be completed in person, many day-to-day, back-and-forth communications between project managers and laborers don’t need to be face-to-face. Using platforms that allow for video conference calls has allowed managers to check in with their teams, assigning tasks and responsibilities for the day. The same is true for the ordering process. In many cases, there’s no reason for a project manager to visit a brick-and-mortar store to order supplies. Digital ordering is much more streamlined and efficient. Similarly, digitized payment options allow construction companies to get paid for projects more efficiently and eliminate the need to track down checks or visit a bank. Digitization and video conferencing are just two examples of newer technologies that are pushing the construction industry forward. Other examples include:
1. 3D Modeling
In the past, machine operators had to rely on the location of surveyor’s posts and their own skills to operate heavy equipment successfully. The precision of the stakes and operators’ skill had a significant impact on a construction’s site overall productivity. A poorly placed stake or a stake that moved due to weather could set a project back. The use of 3D model machine control is helping bring construction sites into a new era of efficiency. Machine control relies on positioning sensors, such as sonic tracers, GPS systems and rotating lasers. The sensors give machine operators real-time feedback on the position of their buckets or blades. The sensors also provide data on target grades. The result is heavy equipment that’s safer to use and more accurate.
2. Building Informational Modeling
Building information modeling (BIM) allows engineers, designers, architects and others involved in the construction process to collaborate on the construction of a building. There are many moving parts in the construction process. An architect lays out the design for the building’s structure, the engineer ensures the building can support itself and the designer chooses the layout and materials used in the building. Before the development of BIM software, each party worked individually. Without the opportunity to collaborate or connect with their colleagues, issues could arise in the process. An architect could design features that meet code, only to have the materials chosen by the designer slightly alter their measurements. In some cases, issues wouldn’t be discovered until construction began, leading to time and money lost. BIM changes that. Using the software, everyone involved can work together from day one. The result is a dramatic reduction in project costs and an increase in time saved.
3. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) goes one step beyond 3D modeling and BIM. It allows engineers, architects, clients and others involved in the process to walk through or tour a building model before construction begins. VR can improve cost efficiency while reducing the chance that a client will be dissatisfied with the final result.
4. Off-Site Construction
Off-site construction isn’t a new concept, but it’s a process greatly aided by technological developments. With off-site construction, building components get assembled in a climate-controlled environment. The components are then sent to the construction site for assembly. Putting components together in a controlled environment protects them from the elements and reduces delays due to inclement weather. There is also less damage or wear and tear on the components when they get assembled in a temperature-controlled environment.
5. Software Platforms and Apps
Software platforms help streamline multiple areas of the construction industry. Project managers can use apps to keep tabs on project schedules and budgets and to communicate with their team when off-site. Software apps also integrate with VR and BIM to enhance the modeling and design process. Many of today’s construction software platforms are cloud-based and can be accessed from anywhere there’s an internet connection.
Importance of Artificial Intelligence in Construction
Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like it comes straight out of science fiction. It’s a technological advancement that exists and is used in many industries, including the construction industry. Through AI, machines can learn and imitate human cognitive functions. The importance of AI technology in construction shouldn’t be underestimated. It can help companies complete projects on time, minimize staffing challenges, save money and address safety concerns. AI learns from the data provided to it. It can adjust project plans based on the information it receives, allowing decision-makers to alter those plans or change them to improve safety or minimize inefficiencies. AI can help construction companies in the following ways:
Reduce project overruns
Improve building design
Address labor shortages
Top Construction Technology Careers
The adoption of technological advances in construction has led to the creation of careers and positions that didn’t exist a decade ago. Developers, architectural firms and general contractors are now seeking individuals who have a knowledge of construction and how to use technology to improve processes. The demand for tech-friendly construction workers has led to several tech-focused careers.
1. Data Analysts
Data analysts, also known as operation research analysts, use math and logic to help the companies they work with solve problems. The exact role of data analysts varies based on the company they are working with. Construction technology enables those in this role to use data analytics to:
Help project managers decide how to use resources
Supervise the supply chain
Evaluate site safety
The job of a data analyst often begins with a problem. The analyst might identify the problem on their own or work with other team members to determine the biggest issue facing a company. The analyst then collects data on the problem. They’ll break the issue down into various components, using database software, data mining and forecasting. Being a data analyst requires a person to be comfortable with some trial and error. When assessing information, the analyst will examine the impact any changes or different circumstances will have on the outcome. They might adjust the number of workers during a shift or run simulations that examine the effect of different types of weather. A data analyst can help a construction company decide the best course of action to take to achieve certain project goals. They’ll present multiple options and paths forward, providing information on the pros and cons of each option. When presenting their findings to their manager, they’ll make recommendations and provide data-based justifications for their recommendations.
2. Directors of Construction Technology
The role of a director of construction technology is relatively new. Companies with the resources to hire a director of construction technology typically do so to help manage the various technologies that have come into existence recently. A director of construction technology is often responsible for sorting through software and hardware options and helping determine what is helpful for the company. They perform research and manage teams that beta test various platforms and devices. If a device or platform proves valuable, the director of construction technology oversees its roll-out to the whole company. The director might sit in on meetings with other departments and pay close attention to concerns or problems that come up during those meetings. They can then recommend products or technological resources to help solve common concerns. Often, the director of construction technology oversees the rest of the tech team at a construction company. The other team members might be responsible for training workers and showing them how to use various technological programs, such as virtual reality or BIM. The role of director of construction technology is more common at larger contracting companies but can also be beneficial for medium-sized and small firms.
3. Project Managers
Project and construction manager roles existed before the rise in technology. But advancements have shaped how the job is performed and the skills a person needs to succeed in it. During a construction job, the project manager needs to coordinate and supervise every aspect of the project. They might be there during the design phase and the construction phase. Project managers often have to ensure projects are up to code and meet any required design specifications. They’re also responsible for keeping projects on schedule and on budget. Often, they need to juggle managing multiple projects simultaneously. Usually, project managers work with engineers and architects on a project. They might also have to interact with the authorities, such as a municipality’s inspection board, elected officials and lawyers. In many cases, they hire other people to manage various project aspects. For instance, the project manager might hire an electrical manager and a structural engineer. They’ll then be responsible for overseeing the work of the other managers. Technology, such as scheduling software, can streamline the role of a project manager. Individuals in these roles can also benefit from a knowledge of BIM and 3D modeling programs. Since project managers are responsible for keeping a project on budget, accounting programs and AI can also help them do their jobs more effectively.
4. Computational Engineers
A computational engineer is someone who can write algorithms and computer scripts that scan BIM renders and 3D models, looking for potential code violations before construction begins. The field of computational engineering is relatively new. It merges advanced computational analysis and methods with engineering. Computational engineers have extensive backgrounds in science and engineering, as well as thorough knowledge of computer languages, math and algorithms. Those who work in the construction industry also have extensive knowledge of construction practices and requirements. Computational engineers are dedicated to data. They know how to interpret and use this information to solve problems or keep problems from developing in the first place. Although computational engineers have an essential role to play in the construction company of the future, it can be challenging to get them to work in the field. Many people who are drawn to careers in computational engineering want to work at established technology companies or start-ups. They might not be considering a career in the construction industry initially. But those who do move into the construction sector are likely to see a significant demand for their skills, which can be a win-win situation for the engineers and the companies that hire them.
Contact Take-off Professionals for All of Your Construction Data and Technology Needs
Your construction company stands to benefit from data and technology. If you can’t afford to hire a director of construction technology or a computational engineer full-time, Take-off Professionals is here to help. We work with construction companies on three different levels. We can act as your engineering staff, taking on all responsibility for data gathering. We can also fill in any gaps in your team or provide supplemental support. Whichever service level you choose, you can rest assured that we’ll build the best data and provide the best take-offs available. For each job, we use four software programs, which allow us to put together the best package for your project. Our team takes on hundreds of projects annually, much more than even the largest contractors can handle. If you’re ready to increase your construction technology stack but can’t hire full-time, contact us. We only need your paper plans, computer-aided design (CAD) files and a work order to start. Get in touch for your free quote today.
Over the years, I have received many calls and questions from those who have been on the fence about attending the Trimble Dimensions Conference. Well aware of all the planning and costs for an event like this, I’ve listed out considerations that I think are important in making a qualified decision on how you can make the most at a conference like this.
As the construction industry becomes more dependent on technology, early innovators Marco Cecala and Tom Pastuszak from TOPS are setting the stage for the future. Read more from The American Surveyor’s latest profile article, “It’s All About the Data: A Visit to Take-Off Professionals.”