Construction Technology: Definition, Benefits And Examples
Updated 4 April 2023
Technology in construction is advancing rapidly and changing the way building projects run. Major technological advancements have improved productivity and also made the work environment safer for employees. If you work in the construction industry or are looking at working in this field, it is important that you understand the role of technology in the industry and are up to date with the latest innovations. In this article, we describe what construction technology is, explain some benefits of using it and list examples of such technology.
What Is Construction Technology?
Construction technology is a collection of various tools, applications, software and machinery that companies use during the various phases of a construction project. These tools and machines help companies to improve the efficiency of their methods and processes. The different elements that constitute construction technology include automated and semi-automated construction equipment, bid management applications, autonomous heavy equipment, various mobile applications, robots, virtual reality (VR), machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
Benefits Of Using Technology In Construction
Here are four important benefits of technology in construction:
In construction, each project differs from the next. This makes standardising the various processes very difficult, which impacts productivity. The usage of technology, such as AI and ML, helps to automate and streamline many processes and thus improves productivity.
Employee safety is a huge concern in the construction industry. The usage of tools, such as VR, sensors and wearables can have a huge impact on improving labour safety and reducing the risk of serious injuries. These technologies help construction companies to train their employees effectively and then monitor their health status and the overall safety of the site to ensure a safe working environment.
Helps to manage labour shortages
Labour shortage is a constant issue that construction companies face. Technology can be very helpful in managing such shortages. Through the usage of drones, robots or autonomous heavy equipment, construction companies can ensure that they require fewer employees to accomplish any major physical task. Technology can also help them by providing them with the latest database of available candidates, which they may then use to hire new employees as and when required.
Ensures better collaboration
Collaboration in construction projects is a major challenge, as the sites are typically very large and the projects involve several decision-makers. The usage of applications designed specifically for collaboration and communication encourages better and quicker decision-making. Such applications also ensure that any new information reaches the various stakeholders in real-time so that the project runs smoothly.
Examples Of Construction Technology
Here are 10 examples of technology in construction:
Mobile apps and software
Different mobile applications and software are now available that help to manage the various aspects of a construction project. Such applications help to streamline different processes, such as scheduling, project management and back-office management. Typically, most of these applications are cloud-based, which makes it possible to share changes with various stakeholders in real time. This improves collaboration and communication among the team.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence
ML and AI find numerous applications in construction projects, as they are immensely useful in refining the large amounts of data available and getting meaningful insights. Such insights enable better decision-making and lead to improved productivity and reduced security risks. Companies can also apply AI to identify the aspects of a process where time wastage occurs. Construction companies can then work on these areas to improve the overall efficiency of the processes.
Offsite construction is a highly efficient technique that construction companies typically use in projects with repetitive design layouts. The construction of hospitals, hotels, prisons or schools may often have repetitive elements that are suitable for offsite construction. In this technique, each team understands their role and performs the same task for different projects. So a particular team may be responsible for the electrical wiring installation in various hospitals. Since most hospitals use similar machines, their installation requirements are also similar. Thus, the team can perform this task at different hospitals with only minor layout changes.
VR helps construction companies to train their employees to work safely in harsh and dangerous working environments. Employees get to understand the potential challenges in a particular work site before entering. This ensures they are more ready to face such challenges and improves the chances of them working safely and avoiding any major accidents or injuries.
Construction companies use wearables to ensure a safe working environment for their employees. Wearables typically come in the form of various construction site equipment, such as gloves, hard hats, boots or safety vests. These wearables come with sensors, including biometric sensors, global positioning system (GPS) trackers, voltage trackers and internet connectivity to monitor the health status of employees and their locations. Location tracking is useful, as it allows companies to set up geofencing to ensure none of the employees mistakenly enters any area in the construction site that may be dangerous.
Construction companies may deploy various site sensors across a construction site to monitor different parameters, such as noise levels, temperature and pollution levels. This helps them to ensure that their employees are working in safe conditions without exposure to any harmful radiation or high pollution levels. Such sensors immediately alert the people working at the site if pollution levels go above permissible limits.
Construction companies use drones for conducting job site inspections to identify any potential hazards. This helps them ensure the safety of their employees. For instance, a construction company may use drones to monitor their employees to ensure they are safe and performing their duties correctly.
Autonomous heavy machinery
Construction companies use autonomous heavy machinery or equipment at construction sites to perform tasks, such as grading and excavation. This machinery allows companies to work with fewer operators, which reduces the expenditure on the workforce and also helps these companies to reduce risk to their employees by not having to send them to the more dangerous areas in a job site. These types of equipment use technology, including GPS and sensors, to navigate through the construction site. Operators can also use geofencing to control the areas that such machinery can access, to ensure proper safe working conditions for all employees.
Smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets, coupled with different mobile applications make communication and collaboration simple and efficient. Companies can get their teams together virtually and conduct meetings without having to assemble all the employees physically in one place. This saves both time and money. Such applications also ensure that communication happens in real time and that any changes to drawings or any comments added to notes are immediately visible to all the members of the team.
Building information modelling
Building information modelling (BIM) incorporates 3D digital representations of buildings so that the different stakeholders on a project can collaborate effectively. This provides project teams with an opportunity to create better designs for buildings. Any changes that a team member may make to a BIM model transmit to the rest of the members of the team in real time. This ensures that all team members can always have access to the most recent designs. Such models help construction project teams to plan the different phases of a project efficiently.
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