Despite the ongoing construction labor shortage, the construction industry has continued to grow this year, and the impact of the recession seems to have been mostly forgotten. While there are many reasons for this revival, we'd like to think that at least some of it is due to the amazing technological inventions in recent years.
In the last few years we’ve witnessed some interesting trends that will continue to change the face of the industry. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. DIY Design
The development of CAD apps has had a huge impact, not only for engineers and construction professionals, but also for ordinary clients.
Thanks to apps like Sweet Home 3D, clients without any background knowledge can make a model of how they want their house to look, with precise measurements such as length, angle, thickness, etc., and even design the furniture inside. After that, they can show the final version in 3D to the engineer or architect to get their approval. As these kinds of apps become more sophisticated, we can hope that they'll provide even better collaboration between different teams working on a project, as well as between the client and the contractor.
2. 3D Materials
By now, you've probably heard about the amazing powers of 3D printing and its promise to change every imaginable aspect of our lives. This is certainly true for construction.
3D printers have already been put into use for printing not only construction materials, but entire houses. And this isn't even an idea for far into the future. Work has already begun on the world’s first 3D-printed office in Dubai, where even the furniture will be made using 3D printers. China has also deployed 3D printers that can now build 10 houses in just one day.
3D printers use a special mixture that is much thicker than the concrete used in regular construction, allowing the resulting structure to be self-supporting. And since rectangular forms are usually too fragile, it uses rounded forms.
Nanotechnology is another promising technological advance that's about to change the face of the construction industry in more than one way.
One application of nanotechnology is a nanotech coating that can be sprayed on everything from working gear to actual construction parts. Once coated, a material will repel water, oil or anything that may stain it, saving surfaces from damage due to water or cleaning materials. But this is far from its only application. Nanotechnology promises to create self-cleaning, self-healing and scratch-resistant surfaces, greatly increasing the life and quality of a building.
Finally, these nano coatings have been shown to greatly improve buildings’ energy efficiency, meaning they may find further applications in green construction. Currently, the main problem with nanotechnologies is that they are much more expensive than conventional constructional materials.
Despite their notorious reputation, drones can have many positive applications on construction sites. When it comes to efficiency, for example, drones can do wonders, as has been the case with the construction of the Sacramento Kings Stadium in California. There, a drone flies over the construction site once a day and takes images that are immediately sent to a processing software, which compares them to the architectural plans. This way, areas that are falling behind or have flaws can be identified easily, leading to more efficiency and safety on the site.
Seeing progress in real time, of course, can also come in handy if you want to show your clients how work is progressing on a project.
5. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality has been in use for a couple of years now, and shows great potential for future use in construction. Augmented reality works by taking real elements from the surrounding environment, enhanced by graphics, sound or other data, and then uploads images of them that can be modified digitally. Similar to drones, it creates visualizations of projects in real-time, allowing better collaboration between architects and contractors, or contractors and clients. Additionally, a project can be finished more quickly and with fewer errors, since a project manager can easily go through a BIM model of the project to better prepare the schedules for construction, delivery of materials and more.
A great example of using augmented reality was a 2011 earthquake in New Zealand, when an app called CitiViewAR allowed city planners and engineers to visualize buildings as they were before they were destroyed.
Outside the Construction Site
Even outside of high-tech construction processes, technology is changing the way the industry operates. Moving licensing and bond requirements online allows for better and easier communication between contractors and government or bonding agencies, especially when new technologies affect government regulations. If tech innovations are inspiring you to update your contractor's qualifications, it's easy to follow the contractor license bond process online.
Online applications, approval and electronic submissions of your contractor bonds mean that you no longer have to deal with a ton of paperwork when it comes to licensing or getting bonded to work on projects, so you can get to work faster trying out some of these new technologies.
Have you used any of these technologies in your work as a construction contractor? Share your experience with us!
Lachezar Stamatov has extensive experience in blogging about all surety bond-related topics, with a focus on construction and the surety bonding industry. He is a frequent contributor for JW Surety Bonds.