Tech trends in construction


31st October, 2018

5 tech trends game-changing their way into construction

When talking about construction, the term ‘cutting edge’ is most often used in its literal sense. But there are a few examples innovative technologies beginning to make waves. Here are the five tech trends set to take the sector by storm.

1. Offsite modular construction

“Can’t work today, it’s raining”.

These simple words are enough to make project managers and funders want to scream into their spreadsheets.

That’s why offsite modular construction is gaining favour in the industry  to combat the scourge of lost days onsite.

Not to mention all the waste and environmental damage that can occur when creating things on site.

‘Prefab’ gets a bad rap because it’s usually seen as low-quality and often outsourced. But it’s shaking off its poor-cousin status as the quality of modular construction meets boutique and efficient standards. Prefabrication will hit vogue status very soon.

And the impacts will be evident in the conception, budgeting and execution of projects shaped by off-site construction, as the quality of the final product rises and the cost curve comes down.

Watch this space.

2. Augmented Reality headsets

Assessing safety risks on site can be a difficult task, but imagine a future where the risks are assessed by AI precision instead of an expert, yet still fallible, human.

No matter how experienced someone may be, they’re going to miss one or two safety risks on site – and it’s likely to be those one or two things that go wrong.

Instead, imagine if augmented reality (AR) headsets could be fitted to alert everybody to potential hazards on site.

Well, that day is almost here.

The tech just needs to be made more widely available.

Nevertheless, we’re getting close to the day where hard hats and safety goggles will go hi-tech, giving people on site much more data to work with than their intuition and knowhow alone.

3. Smart contracts + blockchain = transparency?

Contracts can be a cause for concern in the trade and construction industry, and it stems from a lack of transparency.

Combine the words “contract” and “transparency”, and the word “blockchain” isn’t far behind.

READ: No, seriously, what’s blockchain?

Already, we’re starting to see the rise of the “smart contract”, something which could be a pre-cursor to having a record of all work recorded on the blockchain.

Imagine this:

You’re a sparkie and you carry out some work for a client. Once complete, you request a compliance inspection.

If the work passes inspection, then you get paid.

This triggers the transaction to be recorded on the blockchain, with blocks stored on multiple servers around the world.

That means a record of all the work ever done (good and bad) can be seen by potential clients when deciding whether to contract your services or not.

4. Robotics

It’s enough to fill a bricklayer with existential dread, but robots are coming.

In a snapshot, robotics and automation will replace the more menial and repetitive tasks that are done today – and sites can be filled with just those tasks.

This isn’t just sci-fi speak. Robotics companies have already sprung up, specifically targeting the trade and construction space.

Companies like ASX-listed FastBrick Robotics (ASX:FBR) are working on automating key tasks on site – building robots that lay bricks faster than their human counterparts.

Prepare to ask C-3PO if they want a pale ale on Friday arvo knock-off time.

But, at this stage robotic solutions aren’t quite there yet. It’s a big project cost – but they’re coming.

5. The productivity hackers

The construction industry is an industry where things have been done the same way, more or less, for quite a while.

Where there is stagnation in the way things are done, disruptors aren’t far behind.

Every day, new entrepreneurs from the construction industry are coming up with ways to make every facet of the on-site experience more streamlined, efficient, and ultimately more profitable for project proponents.

They’re doing this by creating new apps designed to help keep projects on track, track financials on the fly, and help manage small teams efficiently.

READ: Secret weapons to hack your trades and construction business

Of course, unlike other tech on this list, new apps are available seemingly every day for you to play with.