NEWS
1/11/2018
Building & Construction in the Digital Age

Building & Construction in the Digital Age

Accelerations in technology are having a bigger impact on industry than ever before, touching on home life, the worksite and professional development. Building and construction courses online, in particular, are becoming more focused on how to prepare students for this changing landscape.

From the Internet of Things (IoT) to artificial intelligence (AI), technology is infiltrating the construction process across all stages of planning, design, and build. With 1.1 million Australians employed in the building and construction industry, this impact is enormous.

The building and construction sector is one that is traditionally known to have low productivity. This is largely due to common delays, cyclic demand and an industry failure to be agile and responsive enough to respond to technological advances.

However, technology presents welcome solutions to long-standing inefficiencies, and it’s becoming an integral feature of current building and construction certificates.

The impact of technology on the construction industry is huge and the benefits are felt by everyone, from online building and construction students through to end consumers.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly how technology is impacting day-to-day life for building and construction professionals.

Integrated Teams

Thanks to widespread uptake of technology at an individual level, we’re seeing a greater skew towards younger, more connected workers than ever before. Many of today’s tradies even completed their course in building and construction online.

As close to half of all full-time workers in this industry are under 34, they have a huge advantage when it comes to technology. Their pre-existing familiarity with software platforms running on mobiles, tablets and desktops allows them to navigate new software quickly, an essential trait for a high-tech worksite.

With a faster rate of familiarisation, returns on investment will be noticeable more quickly, creating a more productive worksite. In turn, this allows more time to address logistical issues, reaffirm accountability and deliver work to a higher quality.

For example, project management software tools can allow individual teams to receive tailored reports and updates on their tasks as well as the project as a whole. This can then save time on meetings and flag any problems in the project pipeline that may not be otherwise noticed until it is too late to avoid them.

Faster Build Processes

Modern technology in the construction industry impacts every part of the build phase, particularly pre-build efficiencies.

Prefabricated homes and buildings are growing in popularity, particularly as they provide eco-conscious buyers with cheaper options. This is because they are partially constructed in warehouses, a controlled setting where precise cuts and amendments can be made without external factors impeding progress.

Not only does modern technology accelerate warehouse performance with increased precision of project pipelines, often the actual build can be undertaken within just a few weeks, if not less. Additionally, many repetitive and time-consuming tasks can be automated to free up staff for more complex projects.

Here, robotics and 3D printing can even help with the physical labour of building, allowing more tradies to upskill into supervisory or managerial positions with online training.

What’s On the Horizon?

The IoT not only offers industry the opportunity to improve low productivity through increasing integration, but it also offers the chance to rethink how homes are lived in.

This means that homes will be constructed with increasingly integrated technology. Conveniences such as voice command are already becoming common staples with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa products. However, there is also scope to maximise energy efficiency through the planned use of a home and how to build it accordingly.

This means future training through building and construction certificates will need to start reflecting real-world integrated approaches to project management through software.

For example, Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the digital mapping of every aspect of a build across its entire lifecycle. Its benefits are widespread, from increasing build efficiencies to enabling a more advanced level of design. However, companies are not making the most of this technology today, likely due to the significant upfront investment.

Four years ago, only 45% of building and construction firms were using BIM, despite this technology having the potential to save up to 5% of the overall costs of a building project.

More construction companies are also beginning to adopt drone technology as a means of site inspection and monitoring, fast becoming an invaluable tool.

This allows construction managers to assess sites that are remote or difficult to access quickly and at low cost. With the real-time bird’s eye view part of an everyday toolkit, projects now have a level of access and insight never before possible, with data easily sent to remote devices around the globe.