We’re hearing lots about advances in construction and building design technology, but much of them are still in their infancy. So what are the pros actually using? Here’s a look at three technological advances that are addressing the pressing issues of efficiency, labor shortages and material challenges.
The Building Information Modeling (BIM) market was valued at USD 5.4 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 10.7 billion by 2026. BIM is increasingly used by architecture, engineering and construction professionals for 3D visualization of a project. It can reduce costs, time and add flexibility in making changes to projects. It can also be used for the management of buildings and infrastructure, with the use of digital twins.
The future of BIM looks bright, as this technology has come far since the 1990s. Technological advances allow for incorporation of augmented or virtual reality and can incorporate lifecycle management of buildings.
With supply chain challenges hitting the industry hard, offsite construction is having a big impact. Mechanical contractors can laser scan a facility and prefabricate ductwork so that it can be produced offsite, for example. Elements such as exterior walls can be prefabricated offsite with custom designs manufactured in a quality-controlled environment.
As Armin Yeganeh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech, tells NAIOP in its Digital Tools Increasingly Vital to Success of Construction Projects blog,
Off-site construction increasingly serves the need for rapid deployment of high-quality, efficient units that can be quickly operationalized with benefits including reduced labor costs, bulk savings, industrialization discounts, improved quality control and cost savings. The controlled environment, factory wages, safety and training can reduce project costs. Off-site construction builders with sophisticated procurement systems can also benefit from bulk savings through delivery, warehousing and material storage.
Apps and cloud-based software
Cloud-based software and mobile apps are helping with a plethora of tasks when it comes to building design and construction. Scheduling, communications, field reporting, and project management are all areas that are benefiting from software and mobile solutions. Changes and updates can now be done in real time. On-site employees can submit timecards, expense reports, requests for information and work records, for example. This can save hundreds of hours per year.
With wearable tech, IoT devices, 3D printing and more adding to the exhaustive list of up-and-coming advancements, the above tried-and-true methods are already doing their part to make the AEC world more efficient. Here’s looking forward to what comes next.