Emerging Construction Technologies

modern-constructionTechnology has provided benefits to many industries, including construction. The 2015 JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report surveyed over 2,000 construction professionals on the application of emerging technology in the field. On a scale of 1 to 10 — with 10 being “Very Comfortable” with new technology — nearly 65% of the respondents reported that they were at last an “8.” While encouraging, the average comfort level of builders, regardless of role, is 7.8. That average drops to 7.4 for builders not performing an IT role. Those who do perform an IT role claim an 8.4 average comfort level.*

The construction executives of tomorrow can enhance their careers today by learning more about current practices and applications of the latest technology. This is an important time to overcome any discomfort. Merely embracing the enhancements that technology offers may not be enough to succeed. Becoming a Construction Manager today involves more: a foundation in contemporary business practices, construction management theory and the key revolutions in technologies applicable to construction.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is increasingly necessary for companies of all sizes. 

3-D laser scanners enhance BIM by providing a digital reproduction of the dimensions and positions of objects within a space. That information then becomes a point cloud image. Once the purview of large construction firms, companies of all sizes are increasingly finding BIM to be an important addition to their project management.

Of course, 3D modeling is already showing to be a major advance by allowing viewers to experience the environment being built. Many sites now have a 3D printer on site. Rather than simply interpreting spreadsheets and paper drawings, augmented reality improves understanding of the project by offering a level of detail that was unavailable before.**

Some construction sites are incorporating the use of wearables. Smart Hardhats allow users to view the 3D model of the location, and the technology promises even more sophisticated possibilities. Safety vests are necessary on many sites, which has convinced some tech companies to try to incorporate devices into this gear that is already adopted. Identifying the location of workers on a busy highway job, for example, would be much easier if tracking devices were incorporated into the vests.

Drones are one of the most exciting changes in the industry. They capture information to produce aerial images and topographical maps. One drone can access indoor spaces through ground sensing technology. Kespry Commercial Drones measure perimeter, volume, and cut and fill size of stockpiles, vastly improving stockpile management. The more common —and affordable—Parrot Drone provides high definition photo and video. Construction Managers can use this technology to survey job site progress.*

Data security is a big concern now that 80% of companies provide smartphones, personal computers and tablets for professionals to transfer information while on site.**

Until construction firms establish IT security systems, Construction Managers are responsible for enforcing data protection rules among project staff.

Certainly not all construction companies are early adopters of these emerging technologies. Many are waiting for greater software integration, or for improved versions of today’s products. However, the future of construction will incorporate more and better technologies with greater frequency. Successful Construction Managers must be willing to explore these opportunities and see these devices as a means of augmenting current accomplishments.

At NEIT, students have the opportunity to learn about emerging construction technologies within their courses. The best managers seek opportunities for innovation, and NEIT encourages students to become excited about the latest advances in management, construction theory and technologies that support the industry.

Learn more about how to build your career success with the MSCM from NEIT.

*Construction Executive Newsletter.
** Construction Executive Newsletter.


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