We are living in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution, a technological rising that will radically change the way we live, work and communicate with each other. Change has never happened so quickly, and keeping up with it is essential if you are going to survive.
How is construction keeping up with these changes?
Unlike many industries, construction has been somewhat of a technological dinosaur for the past 50 years, still largely relying on manual labour and mechanical technology, which has seen productivity stagnate. It is only recently that we have seen construction start to catch up with technology with the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM), 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), drones, mobile mapping technology and Augmented Reality (AR). They have given architects, engineers and construction companies the ability to change the way in which infrastructure and buildings are designed, constructed, operated and maintained.
Digital engineering is the first step
3D mobile mapping technology has meant that engineers can complete in a handful of hours, what would have taken days, if not weeks to undertake. Revolutionary scanning equipment can replicate an existing building’s structure on to paper with the press of a few buttons. Going forward, digital engineering will enable companies to identify any potential risks that could arise in projects, which will avoid expensive delays, material waste and overruns.
What are the major trends that construction needs to embrace?
Aside from the technological changes, one of the most significant advancements in construction is modular construction whereby buildings are constructed off-site under controlled conditions with a positive impact on costs, construction time, energy resources and health and safety. Other hot topics that are on everyone’s agendas are sustainability, energy emissions and waste. DEFRA recently reported that the construction industry was responsible for over 100 million tonnes of waste per year, 59% of the total waste generated in the UK. Energy emissions for buildings and the operation of them thereafter account for 50% of total CO2 emissions and the materials needed to construct them make up a large part of the global 55% of industrial carbon emissions. Construction companies need to focus on sourcing more sustainable materials and construction methods with a focus on ecological benefits.
What will happen to companies that are not embracing these changes?
There is probably no definitive answer to that question. Logically, to survive you need to adapt, and in construction that is going to mean embracing some of the most radical changes this industry has seen in almost a century. Experts believe that keeping an open mind is of paramount importance. Looking for ways in which you can make your business leaner, more efficient and more productive should be at the top of everyone’s agenda. Successes will be defined by a company’s ability to adapt and integrate innovative approaches into their business. The bottom line here is it that construction clients of the future are going to want to embrace these new technologies in their buildings, will have greater expectations about realistic budgets and delivery timescales and expect to see lowered operational costs across the lifespan of their buildings. Ignoring change could see you left out in the cold.