Technology is changing every day. We are constantly being bombarded by the latest technologies and educated on all the new and wondrous things we can do with our smartphones or tablets. Technology is helping make our lives more efficient and convenient than our parents would have ever imagined. All this new technology makes me think about the effect this will have on the construction industry. There are three innovations in particular that I think will have a profound impact on the industry in the near future.
Drones. Drones, as we all know, are already being used in other industries and in the military. As they become more and more affordable, their use in construction is becoming commonplace. Drones are being used to survey and provide an overall picture of potential construction sites with minimal disruption. Also, drones are being used for inspection of completed work in places with limited access, such as underground piping or exterior window assemblies on high-rise buildings. As technology continues to advance, the use of drones will continue to grow.
3D Printing. We’ve all heard the news stories about the 3D printer that printed a new hand for a child. Not only is this technology being utilized in the healthcare industry, but it is coming to construction too. In China, 3D printing has already built a house. Even though the uses may be crude today, the technology is here and being tweaked to better fit our needs. In the next five years, I would imagine we will see more 3D printing in construction—not necessarily a whole house, but more of the assemblies. This will translate into shorter schedules, which equals cost savings.
Virtual Reality. Virtual reality is new to the construction industry, but it is gaining steam due to the fact it is becoming more efficient and more affordable. This technology allows people to virtually walk through a building and see what the walls, ceilings, windows, etc. will look like when the project is finished. The owner, the design team, and constructors will all be able to understand what the project will look like prior to construction even starting. This is done by wearing a pair of goggles linked to a virtual reality screen, usually someone’s smartphone, which display a virtual walkthrough of the project that allows the viewer to review the layout and finishes and also ensure there are no conflicts related to the construction. Virtual reality helps with eliminating changes—the leading cause of cost overruns.
Stay tuned as we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of these exciting new technologies. Are there any other new technologies you are seeing the industry adopt?