Despite being a traditionally risk-averse industry, there’s so much new technology having a massive impact on the construction industry both here in Australia & across the globe, it seemed a prudent time to up
Despite being a traditionally risk-averse industry, there’s so much new technology having a massive impact on the construction industry both here in Australia & across the globe, it seemed a prudent time to update our loyal readers with the latest.
Firstly, the hot topic everyone’s talking about – both in and outside of construction – drones.
At first, thought to be a fad, even a luxury, with no real commercial application or benefit, drones are now considered one of the more applicable opportunities to enable construction companies to work not only at scale but as intelligent, data-driven organisations. From surveillance of worksites, tracking & monitoring weather & local area surveillance, drones can provide construction organisations with incredibly accurate information to be able to access usable planning data and high-quality imagery in a way that’s hugely cost-efficient.
Next, 3D Printing.
Also known as ‘digital manufacturing’ or ‘additive manufacturing’, 3D printing is potentially the biggest shift construction companies have seen in recent years.
Here’s an example: in China, a 3D printed, 400-square-meter, two-story house was built in only six weeks by construction company HuaShang Tengda. Amazing. Firstly, the house frame was erected, complete with support and plumbing. The company then printed over it with their massive 3D printer. That’s it. Use of these huge 3D printers, with special concrete & composite mix – which is thicker & more robust than regular concrete – is no longer a ‘technology of the future’ but a true reality today. There are fewer design limitations, fewer materials needed. The lower cost of this technology is also mooted to have an impact on housing affordability. Total win-win.
How about this? Integrated electricity, water, and the web. Wow!
The Watly is big news. Using solar energy, Watly has devised a spaceship-like hub that provides clean drinking water, electricity, and the internet, for an entire community (so for us first-worlders, concerned about ageing power grids and lead pipes, the Watly is big business in the developing world). How Watly impacts construction – and design – focuses squarely on technology development and then on creating these technologically advanced, beautifully designed solar water purifiers and micro-powers stations. As BRIC nations experience a rise in construction, Watly will likely play a massive role.
And finally, let’s take a look at Robotics.
The application of robotics in the construction industry is currently taking many forms. In Perth, we’ve discovered the company Fastbrick Robotics whose technology can lay up to 1,000 bricks/hour. They can also construct the frame of a house in around 2 days. Other predictions include sites where you’ll no longer see only high-vis, helmeted workers, but where self-driving machinery work independently or alongside workers to achieve a faster, more cost-efficient and data-driven construction outcome.
The boon for construction is knowing the robotics of the future will be able to positively impact speed, output, safety & wastage, in no small way. Also, automated site surveillance and maintenance, in-pipe monitoring for issues and potentially on-site fabrications.
It won’t come cheap to start with, but in time, it will radically transform how the construction industry operates. Exciting times.