Who doesn’t want to make their life easier through improved tools? Exactly. I came across a thought-provoking infographic from ‘Future of Construction’ I felt interested to expand on the impact (see image above).
As each of these technologies gain traction in improving productivity, construction projects can realize new levels of affordability and sustainability. Although this tech has applications in both engineering and construction, I’m biased in my construction perspective – and will expand a bit as each relates to this mindset. Some of the technologies I chose to shed a bit of detail on include pre-fabrication, advanced building materials, 3d printing, and cloud & real time collaboration.
1. Pre-Fabrication & Modular Construction
A previous JHG blog post, “The Great Productivity Puzzle” covers some pre-fab pointers. The article mentions the angle presented in a Construction Dive article (listed in sources below) that, “One of the ways the industry has tried to increase productivity is through prefabrication and offsite construction. Gaston Electrical principal Bill Weber told Construction Dive earlier this year that the company reduced its labor requirements on some jobs by 50% using prefabrication MEP racks, which are 20- to 30-foot panels that are pre-fitted with ductwork, piping and raceways. In other words, being mindful of optimization (that has potential without significant effort) can make a big difference.
2. Advanced Building Materials
Smarter consumption of materials is a big issue in the industry as a whole. Waste minimization and recycling both present opportunities to enhance a project’s success, in numerous ways. From a strictly materials perspective, a sustainable building is designed to use materials in the most productive and sustainable way throughout its entire life cycle, not just the construction process. The materials in a sustainable building can help minimize the environmental impacts such as global warming, resource depletion and toxicity, and the effect on human health.
Sustainable architecture often incorporates the use of recycled or second-hand materials, such as reclaimed lumber and recycled copper. Today, “green” architects and building companies look for materials that are rapidly replenished, such as bamboo (which can be harvested for commercial use after only six years of growth), sorghum and wheat straw (both of which are waste material that can be pressed into panels) or cork oak (in which only the outer bark is removed for use, thus preserving the tree). Concrete is also an environmentally-friendly option.
3. 3D Printing
One of the greatest advantages of 3D printing applications is that less construction is needed, it’s a way to reduce the actual costs of labor. And the best part for the construction industry is that materials can be printed and shipped anywhere in the world.
With the time added and the reduction in manpower and labor, it’s possible for a construction company to take on more and more building projects. This would also pave the way towards new levels of efficiency to be reached.
4. Cloud & Real-Time Collaboration
When data and plans are available to all construction project stakeholders in a cloud-based storage tool, teams are in touch with shared, common information—in the palm of your hand on the go. Instead of a PDF file on a flash drive, historical price information can be maintained and referenced to keep record of any notable trends from project to project.
During times when there are questions from owners, this information eliminates the need for constant communication disrupting attention toward number crunching requiring some heavy attention.