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23 August 2022

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10 Construction Technology Trends Impacting the Industry in 2022

The technology landscape is changing at an ever-increasing speed. This is no different within the construction industry and in fact, construction technology continues to rapidly evolve and drive forward the construction technology industry to become safer, cheaper and quicker.

 

The question for organisations is no longer if they are going to digitalise their construction projects and construction workers, but when and how are they going to keep up and adapt with ever-evolving and improving technologies.

 

In this article, we take a look at ten crucial construction technology trends that are impacting the industry in 2022.

Construction technology

What is construction technology?

Construction technology is a collective term for types of technology that have a specific use within the construction industry.

[10 – 15 minute read]

What are examples of construction technology?

Examples of construction projects that are utilising automated construction equipment include Artificial Intelligence, BIM Software, 3-D Printing Houses and LiDAR. All of which are created and adapted to aid the industry in improving working conditions, boosting efficiency, improving health and safety and many other benefits.

What is the role of technology in construction?

As the world rapidly changes around us, with Covid-19 acting as a catalyst, it is not a surprise that the need for technological advancement in the construction process is moving at the same rate. Construction companies just have no choice but to keep pace. However, when you think of technological advancements, you don’t necessarily think about construction sites as the leader in this field. However, in fact, construction projects are one of the most innovative industries out there.

The reason for this is that the construction industry has always responded innovatively when confronted with difficult circumstances that require the construction sector to change such as Covid-19. Allowing the industry to adapt quickly whilst helping the industry to run smoothly meaning regular tasks such as designing, developing, and building a skyscraper, etc. can now be done in the most effective manner.

With the current crisis causing an accelerated change in the construction industry, with the need for greater process transparency and control being highlighted as a result of the changing times. With many construction companies investing in technology, with the most common focus being on digitalisation and supply chain control, allowing them as businesses to adapt to a changing work environment. 

Alongside this, the need for safety technology on sites is becoming a key focus. With the growth in collaboration technology that will allow construction businesses to work on one single integrated platform. Making it the key solution to the industries’ increased health and safety risks and problems.

Other than Covid-19, the industry has been responding to a variety of other issues that require the industry to become fast-moving and adaptable. These include skilled labour shortage, new sustainability, and reduced emission regulations, advancements in information technology and software, and continued health and safety risks and protocols.

Forcing the industry to stay ahead of the game, for example, technology such as robot workers to 3D printed houses have become a reality so quickly that we might not have realised it. With so many advancements happening so quickly that it is often hard to keep track of it all.

Innovative technology

Concerning this, we have pulled together 10 of the most innovative forms of construction technology that have been/set to launch due to increased adaptation and the need to change from the industry. 

The 10 types of construction technology impacting the industry in 2022:

  1. Lidar
  2. Connected Hardhats
  3. Smart Infrastructure
  4. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. BIM Software
  7. 3-D Printing Houses
  8. Exoskeletons
  9. Humanoid Labourers
  10. Robot Swarms

1) Lidar

LiDAR technology can help measure distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor that can be mounted on a range of other construction tech across the site. 

Allowing workers the ability to scan the surrounding worksite and produce high-resolution 3D images in real-time. Therefore, making it possible for workers to perform site work from a distance which as result helps reduce and or eliminate health and safety risks and injuries to other workers.

LiDAR technology can be used for and can assist several different purposes, these include:

  • 3D Printing
  • Shadow analysis
  • Land Classification
  • Tunnel Surveying
  • Structural Flaw detection
  • Drone mapping
  • Elevation modelling
  • Urban assessment
  • Optic fibre and sewer passage analysis

However, LiDAR technology is also very fragile and LiDAR sensor capacity can be limited in certain conditions such as heavy dust, rain, snow, or fog.

2) Connected Hardhats

From smartwatches to smartphones, wearable tech has already smashed the personal gadget space, however, there is certainly more room to grow for wearable devices in the construction space. As a result of this, companies like Shimabun have released upgrade kits that can be fitted to standard hardhats, providing workers with a new extensive range of advanced safety capabilities.

The Shimabun-equipped hardhat monitors location, motion, and temperature. As a result of this, it can enable it to warn that a worker might be lightheaded or overheated.

Another capability of this construction technology is that it can also perceive if a worker has fallen and trigger an emergency call to first responders.

The exactness of the data collected also makes it possible to perform better assessments of site mistakes to better prevent repeat occurrences and help reduce overall health and safety issues and risks on site before they occur.

3) Smart Infrastructure

Hexagon Geosystems have created a structural monitoring system that uses sensors to monitor the strengths and weaknesses of a specific structure which otherwise would be invisible to the human eye. 

The monitors are designed to help workers predict structural problems before they happen, allowing the site owner to bring in the correct team to perform necessary maintenance before the site becomes dangerous, thus avoiding accidents and reducing further health and safety risks.

This technology can also be used in natural settings, like rockfalls and mines, to assess the structural integrity of a site, therefore, reducing workers’ risk exposure and alerting the construction team on site of any hazardous conditions.

4) Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

It’s worth explaining the differences between these two terms to avoid any confusion. Virtual Reality (VR) refers to the creation of an entirely simulated environment and has a relatively long history within the construction industry. However, Augmented Reality (AR) involves superimposing computer-generated images and real-world image information.  

VR is an important piece of construction technology for the industry in a variety of ways, these include training, safety, structure walkthroughs, plan reviews and similar aspects. VR can also help equipment operators on site seamlessly run simulations that could be too dangerous to replicate, I.e., natural disaster or major equipment malfunction.

While AR can provide construction site workers with virtual feedback on real-world progress ensuring everyone is on the same page and errors are reduced on-site. AR is an excellent tool for the transmission of information by overlaying data with real-world information for the end-user. 

Augmented and virtual reality are proven pieces of construction tech for the industry, with many benefits, for example, a site contractor could hold a tablet up inside a home and see the locations of every necessary drill hole without having to check the physical building plan.

5) Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence or AI has become a key technology advancement for many industries including construction. AI offers the construction industry the ability to speed up planning and make entire operations faster and more efficient. Thus, creating a greater need for AI technology within the industry as a result of ALICE, an AI assistant designed specifically for the construction industry was created. 

The technology within the bot is designed to reduce project build lengths and costs by as much as 15%. Whilst also being able to evaluate millions of data and generate scheduling options that are specifically optimised with time and cost in mind, allowing projects to stay up to date.

6) BIM Software

BIM or building information modelling combines the uses of IoT and AR technologies, to generate a smart option for management and workflow planning tools. A key construction technology advancement within the industry due to its capabilities and opportunity. For example, construction managers can create intelligent 3D models of their projects whilst also generating smart workflows based upon it. 

As a result, this technology has elevated the whole construction experience at all stages, from planning and design all the way to building maintenance.

7) 3-D Printing Houses

3D printing technology has developed massively over the years, to the point that many companies within the construction industry have discovered how to print an entire home faster and cheaper than the traditional method using this exact software and technology. 

The first 3D printed home sold for less than $10,000 in the United States (approximately less than £7,509). A further 50 3D printed houses are currently being developed in Mexico, contributing to the change in the house building industry.

This in turn will make buying a home more affordable for everyone. Just another step that the construction industry is taking to adapt to new technological advancements.

8) Exoskeletons

Another technological advancement for 2022, is the use of exoskeletons within the construction industry. Exoskeletons are another piece of wearable technology that works in tandem with the user, allowing site workers to carry out more work than humanly possible. 

The aim of this technology is to minimise strain and injury to the workers’ bodies whilst also helping to increase worker productivity as workers appear less fatigued when using this technology.

As a result, this construction technology advancement will help increase safety on site and reduce the number of lost hours due to injuries.

There are a variety of different versions of exoskeletons, all of which have their own purpose. These include:

  • Power Gloves – Gripping tools and materials
  • Arm and shoulder support – Overheard activities and lifting
  • Back support – Stopping, lifting or reaching
  • Standing and crouching support – Task that requires prolonged standing I.e., drilling
  • Whole body suit – Lifting and carrying heavy tools and or objects

There are also two significant types of Exoskeletons: the mechanical which is designed for redistribution of weight and the electrical which is designed to enhance strength.

The potential benefits this can bring to the workforce of the construction site are obvious.

9) Humanoid Labourers

In response to the continued labour shortage concerning many labour industries worldwide, Japanese researchers have developed Humanoid labour technology called: HRP-5P. HRP-5P is a humanoid robot capable of performing basic physical tasks like installing drywall or bricklaying independently.

Alongside HRP-5P, there are also other robotic advancements such as TyBot, Doxel AI, and many other built robotics i.e. Automated Track Loader, or ATL. Each of which has its own features and responsibilities,

These include:

  • Doxel AI -using robots and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor site progress with real-time, actionable data using a range of different technology features such as High tech Cameras, LiDAR, and drones.
  • TyBot – an autonomous rebar-tying robot designed to augment and reduce labour requirements in the most critical path activity of bridge deck construction
  • ATL – developed to excavate smaller construction sites using a range of different technology features such as augmented GPS and LiDAR.

However, there can be both positives and negatives to this construction technology advancement.

For example, it automates dangerous tasks meaning human workers out of the risk of harm and health and safety risks are reduced. 

There is also a fear that advancement in technology would also take them out of the workforce and cut down the need for human labour. With many industry leaders recommending widespread retraining to help retain employees in fields that are already short on workers.

robots, machine learning, artificial intelligence

10) Robot Swarms

In contrast to humanoid robots, which look vaguely like people, robotic swarms consist of hundreds of small individual robots that work in tandem with each other to perform regular mundane site tasks such as laying bricks. 

The first of its kind was designed and created by researchers at the Systems Research Group at Harvard University, who designed a swarm of small, four-wheeled robots that function in a cohesive way to carry out tasks.

The possibility for this robotic swarm technology is endless, as not only can they be programmed to lay bricks they can also safely repair infrastructure in flooded or hard-to-reach locations that would be deemed dangerous for human workers, once again helping to reduce the construction industries issue with Health and safety.

Conclusion

All these technologies have one thing in common – they need to be connected, either to each other or a central point so that they can be controlled, monitored and managed.

This is where connectivity becomes the enabler – none of these technologies could work without having some sort of connectivity. Because of the nature of construction, the locations where we need this tech to work is often remote or hard to reach places so your typical means of connectivity may not be suited.

UK Connect offers any type of broadband to suit the requirement, be it fast, reliable cellular connectivity to fibre.

UK Connect are dedicated to being at the forefront of construction technology. To find out more about how we can help, please call 0333 015 5368 or contact us today.

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