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5 Construction Technology Trends Australian Contractors Should Invest in Now
In today’s modern landscape, it can be hard to tell which of the latest construction technology trends are worth investing in for the future and which are just passing fads. This question is only made more complicated by the fact that the construction industry has historically been slow to adopt new processes and technology innovations.
The consequences of this can be seen when comparing the productivity of construction with comparative industries. According to a McKinsey & Company report, global labour productivity has increased by an average of 2.8% annually in the past two decades. And while manufacturing exploded a huge 3.6% year-on-year, in the same timeframe, construction has grown a meagre 1% annually.
However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many construction companies are now prioritising digital transformation as the key to improving resilience and agility. In an industry on the cusp of fulfilling its technological potential, there are plenty of horses in the race. So which of the new construction technology trends are worth your investment?
1. Connected Cloud and Mobile Technologies
There are many reasons to start using cloud technology in your business. Just as this technology has been embraced by individuals globally, cloud-based technology offers real-time, accessible and secure data for project coordination in construction, instantly connecting those in the office and those on-site for more collaborative project management.
Research has found that connected, cloud technology is "an innovation delivery enabler for other emerging technologies". In short, by adopting mobile and cloud technologies, you are opening yourself up to a world of new opportunities as they arise.
For example, combining the use of augmented reality smart glasses with cloud applications gives your company access to what the individual wearing the glasses is seeing as they work, providing real-time data to back-office systems and workflows that can better inform decision-making.
2. Advanced Construction Analytics
Of all the latest tech trends, perhaps advanced construction analytic tools are the most interesting to consider when comparing the slow growth of construction to labour and manufacturing. Construction is not as repetitive as manufacturing or simple labour—every project comes with different nuances and challenges. This makes straight up and down analytics harder to evaluate.
In construction, many contractors have developed gut feelings based on traditional industry knowledge that can sometimes go against what real-time, accurate analytical data might suggest. This is not to say that the accumulated human knowledge from years on the job doesn’t have its own worth. However, in an ever more technologically-driven world, investing in advanced analytics cannot be a bad thing, particularly for large companies looking for the best projects to bid on.
Consider it like this: advanced analytics revolutionised the game of basketball. Data persuaded coaches and players to focus on three-point shots rather than twos by demonstrating the probability to risk ratio—that’s the upside of analytics. Still, while playing the game, great players will still feel and know that a two-point lay-up is still a great shot at the right time—that’s the accumulated knowledge.
By combining construction analytics solutions with industry knowledge, construction companies can get a leg up in the industry as it moves towards new technologies, both on-site and at head office.
3. Wearable Technologies
Where advanced construction analytics is the segmenting and advanced comparison of information on hand, wearable technologies help rapidly accumulate much of this data from the field.
Set to be worth more than $50 billion annually by 2023, wearable technologies will make a huge difference to what the construction industry looks like going forward. Simply by making everyday garments such as hi-vis vests and helmets ‘smart’, companies and managers stand to gain huge amounts of data that show where inefficiencies lie.
However, the benefits aren’t just in improving productivity. Heart rate and temperature monitoring can show when workers are at risk of injuring themselves and in need of a break, improving work health and safety. Smart glasses featuring augmented reality will give workers the ability to see blueprints and plans as they work. And technology that has already burst onto the scene for personal use, such as smartwatches, is very likely to play a role in hands-free communications in the future of the construction industry.
Many construction companies are already adopting wearable tech, so now’s the time to start investing to get ahead of competitors.
4. Construction Drones
Perhaps the most futuristic of new construction technology trends is the use of drones. While drones have begun delivering packages, filming sports and documentaries and running factories all over the world, their place in construction has taken some time to become clear.
However, when used for data collection on projects, drones can save significant time and money, and make data collection from the field safer. Drones can survey job progress on under-construction buildings, utility lines and more, and report back data or issues to project managers in real-time. If your company is not already investing in drone technology, it may be the right move.
5. Green Building Solutions
Green building solutions in construction are by far the broadest and most varied of new tech trends. Green solutions such as recycled plastic car parks, bamboo building supplies and building designs that accumulate water and take advantage of seasonal weather patterns can save builders money on costs and features while providing more sustainable, environmentally-friendly projects.
Long term estimates say investing just $4 per square foot in green building solutions can yield $58 per square foot in cost savings down the line. Basically, the construction industry cannot afford not to invest in green solutions going forward.