Adapt or Perish
Why adapt technology trends is important in construction infrastructure
Robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things can reduce building costs by up to 20 percent. Engineers can don virtual reality goggles and send mini-robots into buildings under construction. These robots use cameras to track the work as it progresses. AI is being used to plan the routing of electrical and plumbing systems in modern buildings. Companies are using AI to develop safety systems for work sites. AI is being used to track the real-time interactions of workers, machinery, and objects on the site and alert supervisors of potential safety issues, construction errors, and productivity issues.
Despite the predictions of massive job losses, AI is unlikely to replace the human workforce. Instead, it will alter business models in the construction industry, reduce expensive errors, reduce work site injuries, and make building operations more efficient.
Leaders at construction companies should prioritize investment based on areas where AI can have the most impact on their company’s unique needs. Early movers will set the direction of the industry and benefit in the short and long term.
The construction business is one of the largest industries in the world, with an annual market capitalization exceeding $10 trillion. Despite its tremendous potential, many firms are struggling due to a shortage of skilled workers, weak productivity growth, and waste. New data showing that the industry generates immense waste, both in terms of human productivity and physical materials.
Today’s proponents of technology have pointed to a lack of automation and adoption of technology as the primary reasons for the industry’s poor performance. Construction is one of the least digitized industries worldwide and has reluctantly failed to significantly increase worker productivity in decades. All while productivity in sectors like retail and agriculture has grown by 1500% or more since 1945.
It’s time to shake things up in the construction industry. At Tracecost, we think that automation technologies are the next big thing that will help construction firms thrive over the next 50 years.
However, they’re no longer the only firm building automation equipment for the construction industry. Companies are building automation equipment for many specific industries within construction as well as for general construct. These specific companies are innovators in the world of construction technology and construction automation.
Stiles Machinery – This firm builds a product called a multi-function bridge that automates wood-framed panel production. The machine can be outfitted modularly with a variety of tools and performs multiple fastenings at once. It promises to eliminate costly pre-cutting, staging and repeated handling of sheathing materials.
Hundegger – Revolutionizing timber engineering, the futuristic machines of Hundegger Canada will allow construction firms to prefabricate and process timber according to exact specifications. This firm built the latest SPM2 Machine Series to process OSB, Plywood, Drywall, Cement, Fiber Board, and expand their offerings.
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Trimble – Trimble’s innovation is making amateur excavator operators look like professionals, saving time, and reducing costs with their Earthworks Software. This program integrates with excavators and allows workers to “dig to design” and perform pipework accurately in 20% less time.
3D-Printing Concrete – This past year, the USA Marine Corps used 3D printers to print a pedestrian foot bridge. Additionally, the USMC built a 500 square-foot barracks in 40 hours, making it a possible investment. And the Tennessee based construction firm, Branch Technology, will build the world’s first free-form 3D-printed house this year. 3D-printing in construction is an automated technology that shows great promise for the future.
With little hope of reversing a long-standing labor
shortage, automation technologies are the way forward for the construction industry when it comes to enhancing productivity and boosting profits. The adoption and integration of automation, and the widespread use of prefabrication may be the best opportunities for the construction business to thrive in the next decade.