On the lighter side of construction, Budimex and refiner Lodos, a construction firm out of Poland, hit the headlines by introducing a new street construction product with one big design difference: the asphalt smells like flowers.
On the lighter side of construction, Budimex and refiner Lodos, a construction firm out of Poland, hit the headlines by introducing a new street construction product with one big design difference: the asphalt smells like flowers.
The green startup Nexii, based out of Pittsburgh, PA, also known as the "Steel City," offers an environmentally friendly concrete product that they say will be better than steel in some applications. Michael Keaton, the Pennsylvania native actor, joins Nexii to provide financial backing and a place in Trinity Sustainable Solutions. Trinity intends to implement Nexii's concrete product into Walmart, Rite Aid, Goodwill, and CSX Transportation.
The commercial real estate industry focuses on energy efficiency and sustainability. For example, a recent report shows that the smart building automation software and systems industry reached $20.5 billion in North America. Still, the focus is on the operational phase of the building’s life cycle, not the construction phase.
The U.S. Department of Energy launched a new initiative on July 7th that invests $6 million into adopting three proven nuclear power plant technologies. By forming a partnership with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, they hope to decrease costs by 10%.
Construction companies understand their industry’s tendency to adopt new tech at a snail’s pace; this makes construction a major target for new tech startups, but there’s a catch.
Every week, it seems like a new construction technology claims to revolutionize the industry. But are these technologies right for you, and will they succeed as the claimed magic bullets that completely revamp your workflow? Here are five questions to ask:
The University of Manchester and the British firm Nationwide Engineering plans to launch a new product: Concretene. Some consider it a gamechanger in concrete. Product creators tested Concretene on the construction of a gym floor in Amesbury, Wiltshire. Builders used 30% less material than standard concrete, without the need for steel reinforcement. Concretene creators claim that their product could save as much as 10-20% in costs.
As the founders of Build Change claim, it’s not the earthquake that kills people; it’s the collapse of poorly built structures. With the release of their new Intelligence Supervision Assistant for Construction app, they hope to save lives with open-source artificial intelligence.
ABB, the Switzerland-based engineering group behind much of the world's automotive factories' robotic assembly lines, holds that the post-pandemic state of mass construction and labor shortage indicates a prime time to integrate robotics into the process.
The Swiss discovered a new way to get energy out of their dams, not through hydroelectric power. Axpo, a Switzerland-based company, partnered with power provider IWB, to use the broad, curved wall of the dam as a vertical surface for solar panels. The project's complexity lies in installing the panels 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level in the Alps.
Danny Forster Architecture, a New York firm, has partnered with MiTek Inc, a company owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, to create the Modular Activation Platform (MAP); they intend to solve some of the main problems with modular construction.
Carnegie Mellon University's professors Pingbo Tang and Burcu Akinci lead a team to design the National Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Construction; they work with other researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and over 40 industry partners.
Curri, a new company referred to as the “Uber of Construction,” gains investors as it seeks to disrupt a stagnant distribution model.
As part of a nuclear project out of Scotland, engineers adopt an innovative new concrete building tool they plan to use in floors, walls, and ceilings, all without rebar. Builders expect Steel Bricks, part of GE Hitachi’s (GEH’s) BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) plant, to reduce the required labor significantly.
Many Hong Kong residents cite construction site pollution—dust, smell, noise, and heat—as "unbearable," especially in the hot and humid summer months.
Last year’s Lockdown and quarantine translated into a spike in home renovations, both in DIY projects and professionally done remodels. Many homeowners integrated green-home concepts into their plans: between March 2020 and March 2021, Google searches for “green home renovations” increased 112%. ConstructionGlobal analyzed Google search volumes to scrutinize the most significant trends.
When working with reinforced concrete, there will always be the “rodbusters”, a highly skilled, yet underappreciated group of men and women who perform the tedious and backbreaking task of tying the rebar together every time they cross, either with wire or plastic. For a large project, like a bridge, this can mean many thousands of ties—all done manually. It is difficult, repetitive work that must be done, but often leads to injuries, particularly repetitive-motion injuries or back problems.
This week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, designating thirteen upcoming projects as "Infrastructure Gamechangers." These game-changers earned their status due to their transformative innovations in the way engineers plan, build, and adapt to infrastructure needs.
Three recent projects show innovation in 3D printed building. The first comes from Austin, TX, where the public can purchase the first American 3D printed homes. A development project in the California desert comes in second, where builders have announced the first 3D printed housing community. A Tennessee credit union that features a 3D printed façade takes the third spot.
Around the world we have seen rising temperatures, growing to record numbers nearly every year of the last decade, and it’s got some entrepreneurs in India thinking: could we use ancient cooling techniques in modern structures?
Purdue University presented a new robot at the 2021 Technology Showcase: The State of Innovation. The new design integrates BIM (building information modeling) and construction robotics in a new way to reduce the time it takes to complete basic tasks and to make up for labor shortages.
The Federal Railroad Administration released information about the Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev Project (SCMAGLEV), a future endeavor to build a Maglev train between Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The train would speed passengers between the two cities in as little as eight minutes.
Following the Carbon Free Boston report in 2019, city officials are making carbon-neutral plans by 2050. Emissions from buildings account for more than 70% of the city’s emissions, Boston feels it’s time to clear the air.
Despite being behind the curve for adopting new technology, the construction industry is quickly trying to catch up with the rest of business as it expands into the digital realm. In just the last decade, construction has seen the advent of 3D modeling and realistic architectural visualization software, the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality on a massive scale, 3D printing, automation, machine learning, BIM and the Internet of Things (IoT). These things haven’t always been greeted warmly by either workers or company owners, but they are making an inexorable creep into the everyday lives of those in the construction world.
According to the Financial Times, the world of game design—referring specifically to video games—is taking a page from construction and architecture. It continues to expand and become more lifelike. It all comes down to how space is used, and then extrapolating from there into questions like: will the doors open in or out? Is there enough light? Where will people gather?
The publication Arch Daily recently published an op-ed questioning the long-held belief that using wood in construction is a more sustainable, more environmentally-friendly method. Wood is a renewable resource, which other materials, like steel and concrete, are not. It also contributes less of a carbon footprint during production: steel and concrete factories are notoriously bad for their emissions, while lumber milling is far less.
Branch Technology announced that it had closed deals raising $11 million in funding, bringing the tech startup’s total financing to $22 million. The firm uses that money to construct the largest fleet of 3D printers used in the construction industry.
Advances in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are improving accuracy, efficiency and safety at job sites. Where VR creates a fully immersive experience, AR takes the existing world and enhances it. Using both of these technologies, which are all part of the more extensive building information modeling (BIM) movement, construction companies can save time, reduce errors, and ultimately save money.
New artificial intelligence technologies at use in Europe can seamlessly track a project’s progress and see if it is falling behind schedule.
Plastic accounts for 19 percent of all municipal waste and is one of the chief environmental threats in the waste stream. Efforts to make plastic more reusable have been ongoing for decades, and many construction projects have found innovative ways to do so. The newest idea is to include used plastics in the makeup of asphalt.
On October 1, construction work began on a project that will be ten years in the making: a giant windfarm located offshore of Norway, at Kværner Stord. The project will build eleven floating concrete hulls that will house the turbines for a wind farm known as Hywind Tampen.
We’ve been writing about the labor shortage in construction for years. Still, when the coronavirus struck, and things were being locked down and socially distanced, new interest arose in what’s known as autonomous construction.
Core, a new app and online site, is designed to connect construction laborers with contractors and builders in need of workers. It has gotten the eye of several influential Silicon Valley investors.
Building Information Modeling was a new technology a few years ago that is now a universally accepted staple of the industry. It allows all the stakeholders in a project, from builders and architects to accounts and owners, to look at the process in real-time to see completed work and the challenges looming ahead.
The construction world has been slow to adapt to new technology but in recent years the boundaries of what is possible continue to be pushed. The problem, experts say, is finding people who are skilled in both the tech world and the construction world. It’s a rare skill set, but it’s becoming increasingly in demand as everything from BIM to robotics to virtual reality devices are pounding on the door of the industry.
Long a dream of those who are choosing to live and build off the grid, a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell is now available to supply heat and power. The first major introduction of the new technology is being implemented in the United Kingdom, but will have far reaching effects across the globe.
In an effort to produce a more carbon-friendly concrete material, Texas A&M University has developed a 3D printing technology that not only has implications for construction here and now, but is thought to be one of the most viable ways to implement construction on Mars.
Buildots, a new technology firm, eponymously named after the new invention they’ve created, announced this week that it has raised $16 million in funding.
Gaurav Sant, a professor at UCLA and director of UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management, is overseeing a project to convert carbon dioxide emissions into building materials. The project just received a $2 million, two-year grant from the US Department of Energy.
The new Canadian company Nexii has created a material that is 33% more energy efficient than concrete and that allows for rapid construction of buildings—including small, medium, and large structures. Based in British Columbia, the company says its new building material, combined with an improved design and assembly process, allows for buildings that are cost-efficient, durable and even disaster-resistant.
According to business consultancy group McKinsey & Co, the construction industry will radically change as it undergoes nine shifts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The report, The Next Normal of Construction, explains how “disruption is reshaping the world’s largest ecosystem.”
The COVID pandemic, which to date has infected 2,000,000 Americans and killed 112,000, has slowed in many areas, which has led to many economies opening—some faster than others. But what all areas have seen over recent months is that for construction to continue, even post-coronavirus, technology will need to be a much bigger factor in the construction industry.
A material that has been used for millennia in construction doesn’t show any signs of stopping being useful in the modern era. Used for everything from scaffolding to bridges to waterways to entire buildings, bamboo has been used in Asia and South America for thousands of years. It has many benefits, not the least of which are that it’s very strong, very flexible, and grows extremely quickly.
While damage control and preparation is becoming an increasingly important factor in planning our cities, certain extraordinary circumstances are something we can’t plan for but which require quick architectural responses that offer aid to those affected—and often the difference is life and death.
The IT Network and security company Brash Concepts has begun adding thermal cameras to jobsites in New York City. The cameras measure the body temperature of workers to identify who may be running a fever (an early warning sign of COVID-19).
COVID-19 has led to substantial losses in nearly all industries, and construction is no exception. When the outbreak subsides, economic recovery will most likely be an elongated process. To shorten this period as much as possible, companies will need to take advantage of new construction technologies.
Businesses all over the globe are facing the ever-increasing challenge of keeping their employees safe and complying with safety guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19. While many businesses have adopted work-from-home procedures and others have furloughed their employees or shut down completely, essential businesses, including construction, are still operational and finding it more critical than ever to manage the situation. And, as the country at large looks to reopen and get workers back to work, organizations will need solutions in place that can help them operate in the "next normal."
While construction continues in many states, social distancing is remaining a rule on worksites, and it often makes things difficult for workers to move around the building—and especially difficult for site managers to patrol them and make sure they’re following the rules. And not following the rules could, in many areas, land them heavy fines.
Many entire industries are sheltering in place and working from home, but construction is one sector that is often referred to as ‘essential’, meaning that the workers have to continue on the job and do their best to maintain social distance. But new technology is right around the corner that may put workers at home, behind a desk.
We’ve seen many different attempts at reinventing the brick lately, as the production process of the material—and the energy consumption of brick structures—isn’t good for the environment. The Brick Development Association (BDA) says in their 2019 Sustainability Report that brick manufacturing is “energy intensive” and “involves firing clay bricks to over 1000 degrees C.” Another material that can be used to make bricks is concrete, made from water, sand or gravel aggregate, and cement. Over 4 billion metric tons of cement are produced annually which accounts for roughly 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. So, while bricks are an essential commodity for construction, new solutions to produce them is always being sought.
While robots and autonomous equipment has been used for mapping and scanning jobsites, for the first time fully autonomous heavy equipment has been introduced and is getting ready to be put on the market.
What was once a material originally engineered for the construction of airplanes, thermoset technology is increasingly being contemplated in the production of not only specific building features, but the entire way buildings are designed.
On this blog we’ve covered the topic of sustainable construction and the carbon footprint of buildings before, to the point where it may seem like a broken record. But a new technology has turned the sustainable construction field on its head: fungus.
A new study by FMI Corp, sponsored by Procore Technologies, found that contractors are not only not taking advantage of existing technological advancements in their current work, but don’t have a plan in place to implement new technologies in the future. This is concerning, though not surprising, as construction has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology despite the promise of savings and efficiency.
As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, concrete and concrete production leaves a massive carbon footprint—approximately 6% of all carbon released into the atmosphere comes just from the laying of concrete. These new technologies are seeking to mitigate that in new and exciting ways.
Expected to reach $54 billion by 2023, the wearable tech market offers to transform the construction industry through the ability to improve safety and efficiency.
When it comes to using technology on a jobsite, smart phones are the go-to device. Nearly 93% of respondents to the JBKnowledge ConTech report said they use smart phones for their work, more than laptops (83%) and tablets (64%). The use of smart phones by construction professionals has grown nearly 21%.
Armatron Systems, an Arizona-based 3D Construction company has secured a patent for an on-site printer that officials say can create a 60-foot-long slab of concrete in less than a minute—and not just lay the concrete, but set the concrete, so it can bear weight. This rapid slip-form mold extrusion process limits bubbles and air in the concrete which shortens the curing time, which allows not just for long slabs, but curvilinear forms as well.
Drones fulfill many roles in the construction sphere, everything from giving a basic overhead view of the jobsite to maintaining track of materials, machinery and people. Contractors use them from everything from comparing as-planned construction projects to as-built projects, as well as optimizing the grade of the terrain and recording images and videos. Their usefulness can be increased with thermal cameras, mapping tools, and GPS units.
Until recently, talk of robotics on jobsites has mainly been experimental. Brick-laying robots, 3D printers, and rebar tying bots have been the primary presence of robotics on the industry. The promise of robots has always been that they could lower operating costs and save labor, but they have never been cheap or efficient—at least not as cheap and efficient as necessary to replace existing technologies and trends. But now, when the labor shortage has grown so drastically, and efficiency is down so much, robots are finally becoming a more appealing solution.
Two years ago, the first ever 3D printed house was built in Texas in less than 24 hours. Now a new organization in Mexico is aiming to curb homelessness with a new 3D printed community. The homes, which are 500 square feet each, are all printed in approximately one day. So far, two test homes have been constructed, with plans to expand greatly.
It was not a surprise that 3D printing made a huge surge in the last year, as we’ve seen it used everywhere from the printing of entire concrete homes to fabricating delicate roof structures. But there may be a surprise in all the many applications we’ve seen it used in this year. Here are just a few:
At an October construction technology conference in Singapore, Atkins CEO Keith Clarke told executives that if global temperatures rise two degrees Celsius in the next 20 years then instead of worrying about their pensions they should instead “buy a shotgun” because of “mass migrations, upheaval, and extinctions.”
We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about two things: the slow, but increasing acceptance of technology into the construction industry, and the drastic labor shortage of skilled workers. But it may just be that the improvement of one will improve both.
In an age where construction robotics are the next new thing on the horizon, it might surprise you to learn that the first brick-laying robot was designed and featured in 1967. Claimed to be able to lay bricks five to ten times faster than the tradition by-hand method, it claimed to be the idea of the future. Attached by rail to a wall, the Motor Mason was an intriguing experiment, but ultimately a flash in the pan.
Just under five thousand American died on the job in 2017, and 20% of them were construction workers, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). Of those deaths, 381 were falls, 80 were struck by an object, 71 were electrocutions, and 50 were caught-in/between. These are known in construction as the Fatal Four.
Every contractor fears an unknown problem leading to a lawsuit, and new technologies are being introduced more and more to combat those fears and safeguard contractors. Three main categories of technologies are coming forward: scheduling software, 3D modeling tools, and data collection devices.
In an industry that is traditionally resistant to technological changes, it may be surprising to learn that the construction industry is forecasted to spend $4 billion in artificial intelligence by 2026. While Power Tools has covered many stories of robots on the job site, this artificial intelligence is expected to come in the form of planning and forecasting software.
Engineering News-Record reports on a new trend that is saving time, money, and lives. For inexperienced workers, virtual reality interfaces are helping to spot errors before they become significant. In fact,the report says that construction workers with less than three years of experience are able to double their ability to spot design errors using a 3D model.
While we try to keep you informed on construction news, there’s so much that we at PowerTools can’t cover. Here is a list of ten great construction-related podcasts that can help you keep abreast of everything newsworthy in the industry.
As we’ve discussed at length on this blog, the labor shortage is requiring construction companies to look outside the box to solve their productivity problems, and they are increasingly turning to technology. The progress has been relatively slow compared of other automated fields, such as manufacturing, but progress is being made, and new tech on the horizon looks promising.
“2019 will be a critical year in the evolution of 5G as global roll-out pilots will shape the landscape and specifications will start to be formalized. Intelligent connectivity, enabled by 5G, will be the catalyst for the social-economic growth that the 4IR (4th Industrial Revolution) could bring.” – World Economic Forum
Construction workers account for 7% of the world’s workforce, but in a world where robotics is replacing people’s jobs, these workers seem relatively safe. Why? According to an article in TechTarget, it’s because the industry isn’t adopting new technology fast enough.
With 20% of construction time spent fixing errors, a Barcelona-based company decided to build a solution that automates the process of monitoring the jobsite. The robot uses LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and autonomous vehicle technology (the same kind of thing used in driverless cars) to build computer models of jobsites.
While many construction technologies seem like a hammer searching for a nail, many new ventures, like hh2, are combining the best of tech with the best of modern breakthroughs.
It’s no secret that the construction industry has felt the pinch of lack of skilled labor both since the Great Recession and the beginning retirement of the Baby Boomers. In an era where unemployment numbers…
While new technologies emerge everyday that could help the construction industry—technology that generated $15-$18 billion in the last five years—it has been found that such technologies are often underused or...
While the thought of new technology is exciting for some, it takes some time and proven results for others to get behind adopting a change in one’s workflow. This can be explained in detail in the Diffusion of Innovation...
Safety is a major concern in the construction industry. Ultimately, jobs within the industry make up a majority of the top 25 most dangerous jobs in the United States (https://bit.ly/2mekW7o). With trades from roofing...
Mobile technology has enhanced our personal lives in many ways. We are able to FaceTime with our grandparents from across the country or with our children away at college. We no longer have to carry our...
It’s no surprise that the construction industry is benefiting in large parts from artificial intelligence (AI). A new job within the industry, a data scientist, is using AI to their advantage. Software and computing systems are...
A recent case study was conducted by the American architectural, planning and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) that show its recent advancements within digital fabrication. Its 3D-printed...
Efficiency, safety and sustainability within the construction industry are taking leaps forward as technology continues to improve. The 21st century has brought a plethora of new advancements in...
With the labor shortage in the construction industry not showing any big signs of relief, a push towards automation that includes robotics and exoskeletons may soon be on its way—much to the delight...
New worksite ideas come and go, but here are three new emergent technologies that appear to have gotten over the early hurdles and are proving to be invaluable on the job site. Telematics: As the...
It’s a mark of modernity that probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, but technology is moving forward at an astounding rate. Just a few years ago, 3D printers were strange, new inventions that could only construct...
Apple makes some nice-looking devices, but—let’s face it—the Apple watch isn’t one of them. It’s a mini iPhone, and that’s great if you’re a minimalist. But even Dick Tracy’s watch had a better sense of style, and...