Construction and Technology Industries Working Together: Astounding synergies and increased productivity as two traditionally different industries morph in the internet age.
When you think of construction, you think of hi-vis vests, loud, clattering noises throughout the day (and sometimes night), and Foremen barking orders encouraging everybody to get finished on time. Likewise, thinking of technology conjures images of guys and girls in glasses huddled around a screen streaming line after line of code. Or at least, this is what these thoughts used to inspire.
As with many industries from here to the other side of the globe, technology and construction now bleed together to create something that you would not have considered possible 10, 15, or 20 years previous. You should have expected it, but even if you didn’t here is how construction and technology can work together, and the way they’re doing it is astounding.
For decades, productivity among the construction industry has become something of a meme. There are always jokes about Hole Watchers, about taking their third, fourth, or fifth break of the day, and how those guys in jackets and hard hats never seem to be doing anything.
With technology, all this has changed, and productivity has skyrocketed. Now, companies can automate scheduling to ensure nothing is lost due to poor communication, while applications for both computers and mobile phones mean that data is tracked better than ever before.
This prevents slacking and helps keep tabs on the metrics of work done and what is left to be completed. It allows supervisors to gauge which part of the construction process is falling behind, which can slow down everything else and have adverse effects on the rest of the project.
There are also benefits for when the construction schedule needs altering because of missing parts or bad weather. Cloud-based technology makes it easy to update spreadsheets and similar programs in real-time, so there is no downtime waiting for the message to be passed on elsewhere.
While in the past labor shortages meant that everyone would need to work a little bit harder, technology has made this something that should not affect the project ever again.
Most prominently is the presence of drones, which are used to undertake quick assessments of the worksite to check for any potential issues. As they can get a bird’s eye view of the sight, it takes minutes to scan and analyze which would otherwise take a human inspector much longer, and may not be as precise.
They are also used to check on workers during work hours to ensure the conditions around them are safe, while other companies have used drones to take photographs of the site while construction is still in progress. This allows clients and workers the chance to witness the change in real-time, and also allows them to identify any issues that could arise.
The human eye is suitable for noticing small changes, but when it comes to precision, its capabilities are sorely lacking. Thankfully, the precision afforded by technology such as electronic tape measures and laser meters ensures accurate measurements.
In construction, the difference between even a fraction of an inch can mean disaster, and it’s no good to expect that you can get away with it. With this in mind, precision that is made possible only by technology ensures that everything fits snugly into place without any chance of slipping away or coming undone.
Precision doesn’t only relate to the materials, though. It’s also useful for navigating heavy machinery around the site without knocking into anything or anyone. An accurate GPS (not one you’ll find on your phone or Sat Nav) means forklifts and diggers can navigate a busy and hazardous site with ease without causing any damage.
Construction sites can be targets for theft and vandalism, but with systems in place such as sensors, passkeys, and wireless cameras, your worksite can be more secure than ever before.
Much like houses use systems such as Ring or similar programs to monitor the front door, you too can use it on your worksite. By connecting to wifi, the cameras will alert you to suspicious activity and allow you to deal with it even if you are not there.
Technology is also useful for tracking stolen tools, but only those with Bluetooth or Wifi capabilities. As tools are so expensive, they are something thieves like to get hold of. However, with tracking systems, you can find where they went and hopefully get them back safely.
Machine learning is something you always expected would become part of the construction site, but perhaps not as soon as it has done. Through the correct technology, systems can analyze potentially years worth of data to make the worksite more efficient. It can predict the time taken to complete tasks and also anticipate if something is not safe to work on.
However, machine learning is something that takes time, and it will not always be perfect, and for this reason, it should be used vigilantly and not as an oracle of worksite knowledge.
Safety is paramount no matter where you work, but in the hazardous environment of a construction site, it is crucial. Technology and safety management go hand in hand, though, making the worksite safer than ever for construction workers and minimizing the risk of injuries, both minor and significant.
One of the methods of ensuring safety does not even take place on the worksite but instead happens through the magic of Augmented and Virtual Reality simulators. These exercises are crucial for training workers with new and unfamiliar equipment or procedures that demand zero room for error. By getting used to them in AR and VR scenarios, the workers should be proficient in using them by the time they make it to the job site.
Another way to increase worker safety through technology is wearables. You’ve already seen the benefits of wearables with athletes, and these wearables work much the same way in construction. Like hard hats, hi-vis vests, gloves, and goggles, safety wearables ensure the worker is protected wherever they are on site.
These wearables can track the location of the worker, alerting them if they are in a hazardous zone, while smart clothing, made possible through unique textiles, can monitor heart rate, perspiration, and body temperature.
If it recognizes that the worker is working in an unsafe condition, it can inform them to take a break, while other technologies can determine the state of the worker and identify fatigue or if they are under the influence, which puts both them and others at risk.
Construction demands high-quality materials to ensure everything that is built stays upright and safe for whoever uses it. With greater checks on tools, equipment, and parts, technology can determine what is fit for purpose, and what must be discarded.
Whether you need a 316 Seamless Stainless Steel Tube that’s more oxidation resistant than its predecessors or a hand saw with the best-quality metal teeth, technological advancements have ensured that whatever is used onsite is the best tool for the job.
The higher quality the tools and parts, the higher quality the end product, and as there is a higher demand for safe and secure accommodation, offices, and other structures, you can feel in safe hands thanks to the check made possible through technology.
Hand in Hand
Construction and technology are not two industries that you would ever seriously consider overlapping more than 20 years ago. However, the recent developments combined with an understanding that to improve the sector means adapting to the times, you’ll find that the two sectors go hand in hand. It may not have been something everyone could have predicted, but it’s turned out to be beneficial for everyone involved.