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What Are the Newest Technologies in Construction?

by Chris Lee | October 25th, 2018

As construction technology marches forward, we are finding more and more new ways to get the job done more effectively and efficiently than ever before. But what technologies that are really taking off and which ones are just a flash in the pan? The technology that is becoming a permanent part of our industry needs to be embraced by smart contractors who want to benefit from the advantages of this new technology. Here's a quick look at some of the hottest new construction technologies that are here to stay.

What Are the Newest Technologies in Construction?

Droning On

Everyone loves drones. But in construction, it provides you with verification of conditions and completion without even having to be on site. Imagine a strong wind storm sweeps through your worksite, causing damage. In the past, you may have had to bring in a helicopter for very bad damage or send in the lightest, most cautious member of your crew to investigate and hope nobody got hurt. Now you can just send your drone up to see whether that beam is simply bent or if it's broken and may come down at any time, allowing your crew to work more safely without any risk to life or limb. They also work well for remote inspection, allowing inspectors to see what was used in a particular space without a lot of ladder climbing.

Going Green

Green products and sustainable construction are here to stay. Our world has woken up to the fact that we have finite resources with a growing population, requiring us to build smarter and more sustainably. However, this reaches beyond simple safe, organic materials to considerations of where we're buying materials, how far they're having to travel to get to the job site, how long the material's lifespan is expected to be, whether the material can be recycled or composted at the end of its lifecycle and any number of other aspects that would have been left unnoticed no more than a couple decades ago.

Modular and Pre-Fab

It used to be that modular and pre-fab only really worked for trailer homes, but economies of scale in construction and the cost effectiveness of this type of construction is making modular and prefabricated components and even entire structures much more efficient on the job. After all, having your crew assemble basic plumbing combinations that you'll use time and again in the field is much more cost effective when they're being put together by supervised apprentices during bad weather than in the field by journeymen or master plumbers.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Whether it's a walkthrough of a planned structure by stakeholders or VR goggles giving a construction worker a glimpse into what the structure will look like and exactly where that light fixture should go, virtual and augmented reality (VAR) are providing construction firms with more benefits than ever before.  The stakeholders can see and experience exactly why a particular layout may not work as well as another while the worker can not only see the plans, but overlay them onto reality with their VAR system, allowing them to better comprehend the end result. To watch for: VAR training options for safety and construction techniques.

Smart Tools

Not that long ago, laser levels were considered a thing of the future, but now they're used on virtually every job site. Imagine being able to loan out a spare battery to a crew member with the technology already in place that renders it useless as soon as it leaves a virtually fenced area, warns you when it's overheating or getting low on charge or automatically stops working after a set period of time, making your crew member actually find their own battery. This capability already exists in DeWalt's Tool Connect batteries, using Bluetooth and similar wireless communications technology.

Building Information Modeling

Wouldn't it be great if you could determine how feasible a project was before it was started or could demonstrate to stakeholders how different options would work within a project? A Building Information Modeling (BIM) system provides you with that capability. It allows you to determine how well the parts of a building will work together to determine optimum energy efficiency, how well a building will hold up in a particular environment and any number of other areas before the first order is placed or the first (wrong) part is returned.

Cloud Software

Google reported last year that for the first time, there had been more searches completed using mobile devices compared to traditional computing platforms. Our society is rapidly becoming more mobile, and construction software needs to keep up. Cloud software allows your estimators and crew to quickly access specs, plans, notes and documents using inexpensive mobile devices, rather than expensive computers that will fail within a year or two in a dusty environment. It also economizes crew movement, allowing an electrician on a ladder to quickly determine the exact layout of an installation from his phone instead of having to travel down to the site office to look at the plans.

Process Automation

Digitization is about getting disparate parts to work together smoothly. Automating your workflow by using software that is designed to work with other software makes this process go much more easily. Can your estimating software link to and automate your accounting package? Office documents? Analytics? Marketing process? If it can't, you're losing something in the process. If it can't, you're wasting time and money in your back office.

Though this technology seems far-fetched for many contractors, it's here today and it's here to stay. How will your business deal with the changes in the industry? If you want to discover what some of this technology can do for your business, it doesn't have to cost a large investment to make it happen. Why not start by signing up for a free estimating software trial? We're here so you can do what you do best – build your business.

Chris Lee
Chris Lee has an extensive background in preconstruction management as a former specialty contractor and business owner. As the Chief Estimator at Esticom, he’s helped thousands of specialty contractors digitize their preconstruction process to increase revenue and profitability while decreasing unnecessary overhead.

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