16th April 2015

The Changing Face of The Construction Industry

Growth within the construction industry is being driven by innovations in technology that allow businesses to design, plan and complete projects more efficiently. Here we take a look at the revolution

When the 2009 recession hit, output in the construction industry fell faster than the whole economy. To stabilise this industry and the UK’s economy the Government created “The Plan for Growth”, published alongside the Budget in March 2011. This policy aimed to encourage growth through confidence and reform. As the plan states, “A successful construction industry is vital for sustainable growth. Building and maintaining homes, commercial properties and economic and social infrastructure are activities that underpin the entire economy.”

To revolutionise the construction industry, the UK Government has since created a variety of initiatives and incentives to encourage organisations to adopt technology and drive innovation. It is imperative for those within the industry to understand every aspect of their business in order to forecast trends, manage resource levels to improve efficiency, and maximise profits, allowing them to remain confident and competitive. The modernisation of the construction industry is well overdue.

Technical Evolution of the Construction Industry

Vast developments in technology are changing how we do business, providing solutions that increase efficiency and profitability and the construction industry is not immune. Already, access to data through mobile devices allows teams to collaborate and work from real-time information, which significantly improves the productivity and efficiency of a workforce.

What does the Future Hold?

The possibilities for the application of technology are seemingly endless:

ExoskeletonExoskeletons: This is a type of wearable technology that allows users to benefit from augmented strength, whereby the person inside can perform hands-on tasks without exposure to the elements. This could gravely improve the health and safety on construction sites and improve efficiency allowing people able to undertake heavy duty tasks with ease. Exoskeletons are still in development.

First Sign: Designed for personal protection, this wearable device provides notifications of potential injury, has the ability to summon help and locate a person inside a building where GPS doesn’t work. This again would significantly improve the health and safety on construction sites and allow you to manage your workforce easily, by knowing who is on site and where.

3D to nD modelling: Augmented and virtual reality innovations look set to transform the construction industry. 3D to nD modelling will allow construction professionals to perform “what-if” analysis at a very early stage of a project, based on the manipulation and impact of changes to the parameters, so that informed decisions can be made.

Daqri smart helmet: An evolution from Google Glass, the DAQRI Smart Helmet has been designed with the industrial work place in mind. It has an intuitive user interface that requires zero calibration and has a battery life that lasts an entire shift. The visual navigation is driving the next generation of augmented reality - Watch the video here>>>

Time To Heal: In a project worth over £3m, researchers from Bath are in the process of developing self-healing concrete. This innovative creation could increase the life expectancy of concrete structures, and remove the need for repairs, reducing the lifetime cost of a structure by up to 50 per cent. This concrete will use an inbuilt immune system to close its own wounds and prevent deterioration. Furthermore, 7% of the world’s CO2 emissions are caused by cement production, so reducing the amount required by extending the lifetime of structures and removing the need for repairs will have a significant environmental impact.

Dr Richard Cooper, from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, said: “Including bacteria in concrete offers a double layer of protection in preventing steel corrosion. Not only do the bacteria work to plug cracks in the concrete, the process of doing so uses oxygen present which would otherwise be involved in the corrosion process of the steel bars.”

The construction industry will continue to adopt technology and new inventions in order to remain competitive and productive. Construction ERP software will continue to provide those within the construction industry with detailed analysis of data that will suggest areas for improvement in order to become more productive. The main obstacle businesses will have will be interpreting the data and implementing actions based upon it. Innovation is imperative if we are to meet expectations and improve the way we live.

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