Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The construction industry is one of the most hazardous in the UK, but AI could help change all that. An international construction firm is developing an algorithm to analyse images taken from its job sites, scan them for potential safety hazards and correlate those images with its accident records. This will give project managers the ability to identify and analyse safety hazards e.g. workers not using personal protective equipment or unsafe behaviour, and aggregate this data to inform future training and education priorities. AI is also being used to consider millions of alternatives for project delivery and continuously enhance project planning.
Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality
AR and VR get mentioned a lot these days almost interchangeably, but they are in fact two different concepts. Firstly, Augmented Reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view, projecting images over whatever you look at, whereas Virtual Reality (VR) completely takes over your vision to give the impression that you are somewhere else.
One of 3D Repo’s partners, Mission Room, specialise in immersive 360 VR displays and are invaluable on infrastructure projects such as railways, highways and similar, to examine designs and survey data collaboratively. Users can literally step inside a virtual cube or other visual solution with 3D models powered by 3D Repo, to visualise the project together – a truly collaborative experience. Potential use cases include planning meetings, induction training, project reviews etc.
3D printing is prevalent in many industries today, from 3D printing replacement human body parts, to musical instruments, and even for printing equipment and spare parts needed in space! But many people believe that we haven’t even scratched the surface of the abilities and potential use cases for 3D printing.
In the construction industry there are already many examples of the technology making a big impact on construction time and also reducing labor requirements. Reportedly, a Chinese firm was able to produce 10 x 3D-printed buildings within 24 hours! Dubai also wants to become the world’s “3D-printing hub” by 2030, and announcing that 25% of the city-state’s new buildings will be made using 3D printing technology by 2025.
The construction industry still features a lot of manual-intensive labor as a primary source of productivity, but the future of robotics will help to replace or improve existing processes, making them more efficient, and more accurate.
Robots excel in situations where the environment is controlled and tasks are very repetitive; things that the construction industry are not well-known for! But robots are being successfully used for tasks such as laying bricks, demolition, and 3d printing. In an industry where profit margins are extremely tight, and many tasks unautomated, robots will most definitely play a part in shaking things up as people find ways to increase efficiency, accuracy, and claw back profits.
Big Data & The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) holds a whole host of possibilities for construction, including the remote operation of machines, tools and equipment tracking, power and fuel savings, and also BIM!
In the example of BIM, sensors could be placed in buildings that have been constructed, and transmit useful information back to the user on the way materials are affected by time and a changing climate to provide actionable value. There are other cases in maintenance and repair, where sensors can report back information to assist with preventative maintenance and to ensure machinery and equipment can be in use for the maximum possible time – boosting on-site productivity.