Video: Advanced Technologies Are Transforming Infrastructure Projects
Matthew Greenwood posted on April 12, 2018 |

Advanced manufacturing technology isn’t just for the lab or the factory floor anymore. New tools used prominently in the automotive and aerospace industries—such as 3D printing, the Internet of Things, virtual reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence—are being used in massive infrastructure projects like railway lines, bridges and hospitals.

Construction is a very traditional world, but it is adapting these innovative technologies. “Advanced manufacturing and construction are linking together to go into a new future,” said José Daniel Garcia Espinel, Director of the Advanced and Digital Innovation Hub of Acciona.

Acciona is a global infrastructure and renewable energy company at the forefront of using transformative technologies in the construction and operation of infrastructure projects.

Espinel observes that blockchain, most commonly known for its role in cryptocurrency, can be adapted for use in construction and infrastructure as well. “It’s like having a digital notary,” he said, “to make sure everything is controlled—all the emails, all the messages and all the info you interchange between client and suppliers. All of it could be based on blockchain.”

Acciona also uses mixed reality, a technology that blends the physical world with the virtual world—where virtual objects are overlaid on the real world and can interact with each other.

Mixed reality is used for letting contractors and clients understand their projects. In the past, they had to imagine the completed projects from blueprints and design sketches. But mixed reality allows them to immerse themselves in the project by use of a pair of goggles to visualize what the project will look like in the real world and how it will interact with its environment.

Mixed reality would also help manage version control to make sure suppliers, subcontractors and clients are all using, and making changes to, the same iteration of the construction plans. In the past, managing all those changes has been a major problem in paper-based engineering planning.

“We are getting into a new era—a digital area in which different worlds are linking together,” said Espinel. “All of these technologies are changing the world, and changing our businesses.”

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