Digital technologies you will use in 2030.
Construction of the future
Are digitization and craftsmanship a contradiction in terms? How can something made by hand become digital?
3-D printer, virtual reality, artificial intelligence. Beyond the buzzwords, one thing is already clear, in the next 10 to 20 years, the trades will also go through a technological change like never before.
The construction trade, in particular, is sometimes seen as a “cumbersome giant”. As a humorous exaggeration, one could show the technical progress in construction in the following diagram.
But jokes aside, nobody can ignore digitization anymore. Whether in private life, in industry, or in the trades – the transformation has long since begun. It will continue to pick up speed in the future.
But what is digitization anyway?
Before we get into academic discussions, I propose the following practical definition, digitization is anything that uses digital devices and/or digitized data in addition to physical tools.
Examples? Walkie-Talkies instead of screaming at the construction site from the basement to the fifth floor – digitization. Use an app for measurement – digitization. Write invoices in the office with software – you already know.
Digitization is often so intertwined with our everyday lives that we hardly notice it anymore. In order to put the topic in order, here is a possible classification of how digitization can make itself felt in practice.
- As digital helpers doing physical things
- In the form of collected and stored data
- As software that connects and controls data and physical things
Let’s be honest: The construction industry is not exactly known as a technology leader. As a result, the way many jobs are performed has not changed for several decades. In other words, productivity has stalled.
This also means that activities in the company or on the construction site are often dirtier and more dangerous than they need to be. At the same time, there is often a lack of modern tools in the office.
It is therefore about using new technologies to increase productivity and job satisfaction.
To give specific examples: The introduction of practice-related processes, work equipment with built-in sensors, and mobile solutions for teamwork can open up completely new possibilities.
Automation can increase occupational safety and avoid monotony. For example, remote-controlled demolition robots are safer and more efficient than traditional concrete demolition tools, especially in tight spaces.
Devices with built-in sensors that monitor working conditions can also improve worker safety. Work equipment with embedded sensors is well-suited to work environments where personnel is exposed to extreme temperatures, potentially harmful gases, or live wires.
An example of such technology is intelligent AR (augmented reality) safety helmets. Sensors and cameras in the helmets capture real-time information and display it to the wearer. Construction workers can use the helmets’ thermal imaging abilities to avoid dangerous situations.
Aside from improving the productivity and safety of onsite workers, new digital technologies can also make office work more productive. Mobile apps free employees from repetitive administrative tasks and free up time for more important things.
For example, contractors and architects can work together on project plans in the cloud. The time and resources required are reduced and additional costs due to miscommunication are reduced.
To make the opportunities of digitization more tangible, just think of BIM, which is currently revolutionizing large-scale projects. Think of Building Information Modeling as the digital version of the old carpenter adage “measure twice, saw once”: A project is built completely virtually before the groundbreaking ceremony.
But BIM is more than software. It is a method that links the planning, execution, and management of buildings. In this way, planning errors are uncovered in good time and necessary adjustments are identified. This avoids the inefficiencies and costs of the real, physical world.
The video gives an interesting insight.
Is digitization for the big players only?
“That’s all well and good,” you might say now. “But after all, we’re not an international construction company!”
So can only large companies benefit from digitization?
We are convinced of the opposite. We’ve identified five trends that aren’t just pie in the sky. Some of them can and are already being used by smaller handicraft businesses.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting each of these trends in a series of articles on the future of construction. Here is a short foretaste:
- Robotics: Various developments from an exoskeleton that gives construction workers almost magical powers to a robot that builds a house brick by brick.
- Artificial intelligence: systems that can see into the future? Machines that learn? Let yourself be surprised!
- Virtual reality: Using 3D glasses to take a virtual tour of the building before it’s built is great. But there are many more uses.
- 3-D printing: An entire building from the printer? There is now one in Dubai.
- Software: The right software is becoming as important as tools made of iron and steel. Cloud-based applications make it possible for everyone to always be up to date. Whether in the office, on the road, or on the construction site. We venture a look into the future of software in construction.
The future is now
We are sure and if you have read the series of articles on the construction trade of the future, you too are convinced of the opportunities offered by digitization.
Some of what may look like a gimmick now will be part of the trade-in in ten years’ time. At the same time, the increasing spread of digital tools opens up new possibilities that no one dreams of today.
One thing is certain, the digital transformation has already started in construction. And you’ll be glad you jumped on the train in time.