Construction in the New Age Means Embracing Technology
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on June 10, 2020 |
The pandemic has forced many industries, to rethink operations, with incorporating new technologies.

During the past two months, every industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the long-term effects may still be unknown, according to Deloitte— a leading global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services—the response and recovery for the construction industry has often meant embracing, or beefing up, new technologies. 

A new focus on health and safety guidelines makes conventional means of on-site work processes significantly more difficult. Many companies in the industry have begun investing in four main areas of technology to keep production thriving: social distancing, drones and robots, modular construction, and digital twins. The gradual move to using these more also often provides benefits in efficiency and cost-savings, as well as provides solutions for a decreasing skilled labor workforce.

Social Distancing

While some tasks may be difficult to keep a 6-foot distance, there are ways to assist employees in minimizing close proximity with co-workers. Along with video monitoring and a connected worksite, allowing for virtual collaboration, other innovations include wearable Internet of Things (IoT) tags or devices that are capable of contact tracing and alerting the user when they are too close to a colleague.

Edinburgh-based Reactec has launched its HAVwear watch, which monitors construction workers’ exposure to health risk amid COVID-19. (Image courtesy of Reactec.)

Drones and Robots

While robots are still slowly gaining traction in the construction environment, some innovations are proving that the future of construction may well include them. Autonomous rovers and specialized robots further reduce the need for on-site inspections, as well as can be used for repetitive tasks or transporting materials. At a time when many jobsites have a reduced workforce, drones provide an easy and virtual way to conduct remote surveillance.

SAM 100 is said to be the world’s first commercially available robot for on-site masonry construction. (Image courtesy of Construction Robotics.)

Modular Construction 

A controlled environment makes it easier to monitor and adhere to safety guidelines. A move toward more off-site prefabrication and modularization has assisted in mitigating the impact of the coronavirus. It allows work to still be completed while ensuring the safety of the workforce. Other benefits of these methods include productivity improvement, enhanced quality and a shortened project schedule.

Digital Twins

Embracing technologies such as digital twins, 5D BIM and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) assists in the planning and design process without having to be on-site. The enhanced efficiencies they provide reduce disruptions in construction and can speed up a project’s timeline.

Interested in how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting other industries? Check out How COVID-19 is Transforming the Manufacturing Industry.

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