New Technologies in the Building and Construction Industry

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This is the second part of our update on what’s shaking and moving in the construction space. Our previous article specifically focused on all the cool new technological advancements when it comes to paint.

Construction is often one of the industries believed to be moving the absolute slowest when it comes to technological adaptation, and there is no wonder why that perception persists. We have all heard of, or ourselves experienced, the situation where you make an arrangement with either a painter or a welder to come out and do some fairly basic work on your home. At that point, everything seems great and then the day comes when they’re supposed to come by. And it just doesn’t happen.

If you’re lucky the contractor actually gives you notice that they won’t be coming by on the day that you agreed to, but more often than you would like, reality is probably that they just won’t show up on the day, and when you reach out, you should prepare yourself for one heck of an excuse. 

With all that being said, it is not like construction isn’t moving forward. It is just doing so very slowly. And that is despite the fact that $1B is poured in as funding in 2019 to help the development of new companies and tech in the space. The reality of the matter is that $1B is a relatively small amount of money, in an industry that seems eternally reluctant to change. If you try and look up your local contractor online, chances are they may not even have a website.

When that’s been said, there are things that are happening. There is new equipment that is being developed all the time, whether it relates to metal cutting, such as plasma cutters, or whether it has to do with the tech being developed for the industry.

Jobs can be centralized to a greater extent

We are heading into an interesting period in time, and there are really cool things on the radar. While we’re unlikely to be replacing the dangers of a roofer’s job any time soon, there are things that will be possible to do remotely that we haven’t previously been able to do remotely. Think about the technology that goes into self-driving cars, and how we have gotten to a point where it looks very likely that cars can be fully autonomous within a matter of years. Some of the same types of capabilities may be possible on the construction site, like automated deliveries and such. A technology such as LiDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging is able to produce very accurate 3D images, that would allow certain jobs to more easily be able to be centralized. Imagine a service that automatically delivers an excavator and then has an operator simply sitting in a centralized location and doing the job. 

Logging could easily be one of those industries where you could have things done remotely, thereby significantly reducing the likelihood that someone gets injured in the process. The issues with the technology are some of the same that you will see from self-driving cars. The sensors that would need to be installed have a very hard time managing conditions that are less than perfect, like in the instance of fog, rain or dust.

Workers being more largely replaced by robots

It’s no surprise that there are more and more positions that are being replaced by either machines, or now increasingly also humanoid laborers. Believe it or not, many countries are experiencing labor shortages when it comes to manual-heavy work, and that is also some of the places where humanoids are more likely to dominate. We’re not talking about machines of equal intelligence as humans being introduced, but we’re not imagining that it would be impossible for a machine to install simpler things like drywall, in fact what has been achieved by the HRP-5P humanoid built by Japan’s Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Institute. To say the least, it’s a really impressive robot they have built, even if it is currently only in prototype mode.

As part of this increased automation, our recommendation to governments is definitely to consider the parts of the workforce that will end up being replaced from said innovations. 

Bricklaying will forever change

Certain robots are made to resemble humans, while others aren’t. Besides building robots that resemble a human, like the one we previously talked about, others may simply be made to resemble what they are – robots. And one example of a robot that will keep looking like a robot is one made by researchers at Harvard’s Self-organizing Systems Research Group that created a bunch of these little machines, capable of doing otherwise labor-intensive work – in this case laying bricks.

Drone usage is increasing, and rapidly

Construction has historically been very manual, as it often includes a bunch of measuring in very inconvenient places. If you’re the company responsible for installing a roof, you don’t want to have your measurements be off by 30%, as that will largely cut into the profit margin that you’re relying on in order to be able to pay the workers for the job. 

Drones don’t just make this stuff more accurate and easier, they are also saving lives. From the increased functionality of simply having a drone do the work, you’d be expecting an increase in its use, but did you expect an increase to the tune of 239% over one single year? 

It turns out that while these drones can make some really impressive light shows, they also have very functional purposes in various industries. They can also be used for a lot of different things such as topographical mapping surveys, security breaches, and you will only keep seeing their usage increasing over the coming years, that much we can promise you.

Not all things will start replacing workers

While it’s understandable if you may start thinking that certain jobs could end up being at risk in the industry, not all tech is risking displacing workers. Things such as SmartBoots can help send important information on fatigue, or alert managers or first responders if an emergency occurs, and could be used to more easily track the amount of hours that someone worked. 

Over the coming years, it will be interesting to see the adaption of many new interesting technologies, devices and wearables, and while a lot is ahead, we will surely also see some of these technologies failing, because the markets may simply not be demanding them.

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