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Technology, Construction - 4 min read

Innovation in the Construction Industry: What's Next?

David Cartwright

Senior Marketing Manager - Software

Oct 9, 2017 6:33:00 AM

Traditionally, the construction industry has been risk-averse and slow to innovate. According to the 2016 KPMG Global Construction Survey, the industry is yet to reap the full benefits of advanced data and analytics, drones, automation and robotics. 

However, the sector is taking strides to take advantage of emerging technologies. Here are six construction innovations and what they mean for the industry.


1. Self-Healing Concrete

Concrete is the most widely used material in construction, and ranked as one of the most widely-produced and consumed materials on earth. Owing to its easily sourced raw materials, thermal resistance and durability it is extremely useful and versatile. Finding an alternative building material to replace it in large scale is almost impossible. 

However, Hendrik Jonkers, a microbiologist at Delft University aims to increase the lifecycle of concrete. His innovation is a self-healing bio-concrete that implants self-activating limestone-generating bacteria into building material. The bacteria is combined with calcium lactate, concrete and water when building, and only becomes activated when concrete cracks or water seeps in.

This innovation intends to decrease the amount of concrete produced, as well as lower maintenance and repair costs for buildings.


2. 3D Printing in Construction

There has been a substantial amount of research into the use of 3D printing to build components of buildings and entire buildings. 3D printing in construction is completed by “super-size printers” that use a special concrete and composite mixture. This mixture is far thicker than your regular concrete, and therefore self-supporting as it sets. 3D printing offers endless possibilities in construction, architecture and design.

For example, the ability to use curvilinear forms, rather than rectilinear forms offers limitless potential in design. Rectangle forms are considered to be structurally weak, as opposed to curved ones. Curvilinear structures are more efficient, use less materials, and have a simple, consistent curve that gives them a strong structural design. 

3D printing doesn’t only offer new shapes and design possibilities, but also lowers the cost of construction and produces more precise buildings.


3. Smart Buildings

Smart buildings use information technology to connect with building systems, people and the environment. Automated processes are used to control operations such as lighting, air conditioning, heating, ventilation and security. 

Tender tips, marketing tips, technology for builders.

This is made possible by use of sensors, microchips and other technologies that collect data to manage building operations. These technologies are already widely used, however this trend is expected to be adopted widely in commercial construction for more energy efficient buildings.


4. Modular Construction

In modular construction, elements of a building are constructed off-site with the same standards and materials used in on-site construction. Modular construction prevents environmental interference by delivering components as and when needed, allowing for up to 70% of a building to be produced as components. This offers numerous economic benefits such as cutting on costs and reducing waste.

6. Cloud Collaboration

Cloud collaboration technology allows the remote sharing of data on a construction project in real time. It works as a review tool for engineers and architects, which digitises the progress on construction projects and allows for better collaboration.

This improves communication between various stakeholders, and team members no longer have to wait for pressing concerns to be addressed. This often results in cost savings and quality assurance.


7. Drones

Construction drones are useful in conducting site surveys and tracking construction projects in real time, by relaying aerial photos, 3D images and maps. This allows for real time monitoring of projects and the alleviation of traditionally high-risk construction activities.

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