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...
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...
The construction industry typically runs on razor-thin profit margins from project to project, and accurate bidding keeps profits from vanishing. A time tracking system that doesn’t integrate with accounting diminishes the accuracy of labor recorded on a project.
Procore Technologies, Inc. CEO, Tooey Courtemanche, stated that construction technology is the key to unlocking a more climate-conscious construction industry.
Slate Technologies, a California-based artificial intelligence (AI) software platform for the construction industry, announced last week that it is acquiring Splash Modular, a North Carolina-based software designer of industrialized construction (IC) and design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA).
Construction is the third most common industry hit by ransomware attacks. In all, it made up 13.2% of all ransomware attacks in North America.
The construction industry is a technology laggard, but some experts see new interest in innovations. Owners are realizing that integrating technology increases construction efficiency.
The construction industry is a notorious laggard when it comes to adopting new technologies. HCSS recommends a five-part method for achieving employee buy-in.
The Department of Defense, working with the private sector, is building three barracks using 3D printing technology. The project, which is going to be the largest of its kind in the Americas, is scheduled to be finished in 10 months.
Construction in the metaverse and virtual reality excites gamers; some companies say today's VR users represent tomorrow's engineers.
Concrete takes first place as the world’s most commonly used construction material. Some criticize concrete’s structural soundness. A group of civil engineers offers Graphene as a superior solution to concrete.
Despite the recent growth of construction jobs, a labor shortage remains, especially with small contractors and businesses. In September, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that 51% of small business owners couldn't fill job openings, more than double the 22% historical average.
Businesses continue to use spreadsheets as practical tools. Most agree that Excel offers a robust solution. But an article this week in Construction Dive poses that too many spreadsheets and not enough automation cause difficulty for construction project managers. In addition, project managers do more business these days on smartphones and tablets. Excel doesn't offer the simplicity needed in this business environment.
Anyone who has spent time on a construction job knows that building generates waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's 2018 figures, more than 600 million tons of construction waste builds up per year; that's twice as much as all the municipal waste collected from homes and businesses countrywide.
Despite being one of the largest sectors of the global economy, the construction industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technologies; this leads to shortfalls in productivity. According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, "Reinventing Construction: A route to higher productivity," labor productivity across all sectors has grown by 2.8% in the last 20 years, but construction productivity has only increased by 1%.
Although many believe plastic's recyclable properties reduce pollution and alleviate the trash crisis, only 9% of the 42 million tons of plastic used in America each year recycles. Some blame a deficiency in recycling infrastructure. The truth is, recycling facilities can't reclaim most plastics—even if fabricators print that triangular symbol on the bottom.
Hausbots offers a new tool that must be seen to be believed:a robot that looks similar to a small four-wheeled car with two large vents onthe top. The device can drive straight up walls.
Artificial intelligence impacts peoples’ lives across all sectors; they can ask Siri or Alexa a question, use a smart thermostat, or receive recommendations from Netflix. The construction industry also benefits from AI. And AI in construction goes much further than autonomous vehicles.
The construction industry has a reputation for late adoption of new technology. Still, a new survey from Dodge Construction Network, a Dodge Data and Analytics subsidiary, says that 95% of office and field workers want new digital tools. In another question, 95% of respondents said that such tools would streamline their work.
For years, construction technology companies have experimented with building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Mitrex Integrated Solar Technology says this new tech can go mainstream.
Black and Veatch uses Honda’s autonomous work vehicles (AWVs) at a job site in New Mexico to test their effectiveness. The company pushes the vehicles by towing and moving construction materials and other supplies. Other sites have tried the AWV; but Black and Veatch plans to work Honda’s vehicles harder and longer than at any other site.
Flexbase, a construction technology company, plans to offer something new: a particular credit card for the construction industry. The card provides up to 60 days of interest-free financing.
Mosaic Building Group, a Phoenix-based construction tech startup, has raised an additional $44 million in Series B funding, bringing their total funding to $68.75 million. Mosaic designed its software to manage construction infrastructure in a way that will allow real estate developers to focus on things like land acquisition, sales, and architecture. Ultimately, Mosaic says, their goal is to make residential construction more scalable.
Within the United States, investment in construction technology sits at $2.1 billion as of October 2021; this more than doubles funding at the same time last year.
The Denver International Airport, which has a sincere commitment to sustainability, will begin constructing two large solar panel farms on airport property. Designers estimate that the solar farm will generate enough energy to power 6,000 Denver homes year-round.
Some scientists speculate that concrete production contributes to 6% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Switzerland intends to improve those numbers with revolutionary concrete creation techniques.
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.
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. The pair currently 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.
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, 2020 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.
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.
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.
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.
It's widely known that 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. Not only does it lay and set the concrete, it can also bear weight!
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 for comparing as-planned construction projects to as-built projects, as well as optimizing the grade of the terrain and recording images and videos.
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.