What is the Future of the Construction Industry?
The construction industry has come a long way since its outset. Especially considering it began with building homes out of mud, sticks, and stones. In the 21st century, innovations are constantly improving the way construction work is done, enhancing safety, efficiency, and productivity, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Despite all these innovations, reports show that the construction industry has been notoriously slow to adopt new technologies and ways of working. Many businesses are still working on a cash-in-hand basis rather than adopting online merchant services, and some local outfits don’t even have a website. The world is changing at an exponential rate, and if companies want to stay current and meet the needs of increasingly discerning consumers, they need to keep up.
Yet in the face of this resistance to adopt new technology, there are a number of growing trends that are beginning to change the way construction companies work.
Virtual and augmented reality
Virtual reality (VR) technology presents users with an immersive experience into a completely digital world, while augmented reality (AR) enhances our current reality by projecting digital elements into the real world. Both formats have been adopted by several industries in the past decade or so, but the construction industry is only just beginning to catch up. To date, architects and contractors have mostly used 3D modeling software to manage and visualize construction projects, but incorporating AR and VR could help to improve designs and detect errors. One example of how this could be used is maintenance workers with augmented reality devices being able to effectively see through walls to observe the locations of plumbing and electrical systems.
3D printing is one of the most rapidly growing trends in the construction sector, and for good reason. It dramatically improves efficiency and speed of production, while eliminating waste and reducing manpower. With 3D printing technology, construction firms can either print the required materials off-site in advance or bring the technology on-site to produce precisely what they need at the moment they need it. The capabilities are still being explored, but it is now possible to 3D print an entire house in just 24 hours.
For good or for bad, the labor force of the construction world is increasingly populated with robotic workers. We have seen robots designed for all kinds of purposes, from laying bricks to demolishing buildings. The construction industry has historically relied on manual labor, so the appearance of robotics is a significant paradigm shift for the sector. Implanting robotic workers within the workforce can lead to faster construction times, higher quality builds, reduced labor costs, and safer work environments.
All companies have an obligation to limit their impact on the environment and ensure they are doing more good than harm to the world. Building regulations are becoming stricter and stricter, and designs are increasingly driven by the requirement to optimize energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions. Some sustainability trends we are seeing include closed-loop energy systems where buildings generate and store their own energy and more innovative techniques to recycle construction waste into reusable building materials.