Future Trends in the Construction Industry

Like all industries, the construction industry is seeing rapid advancements in technology, but unlike most industries, the construction industry has relied on age-old techniques for a very long time. Nobody likes change, but I think we all agree that our industry in particular is pretty resistant.

Simply put, we’re on the verge of something big. It’s the kind of shake-up that has the potential to revolutionize the way that people perform their jobs on a daily basis.

Ready for the future trends in the construction industry? We are too.

LIDAR

We’ll be attacking this topic in a future blog post, but we wanted to hit on this briefly. Simply put, LIDAR is essentially using laser technology to create 3-D models. And it’s already changing the construction industry.

We’ve spoken with Ken Robbins, the President of Robbins3D, a 3D laser scanning and surveying company based out of Georgia, and he had some fascinating things to say on the subject, including offering us a case study on how the technology has the potential to change how construction projects are completed.

You can find that interview here.

Drones

Drones may seem like a fad with little regulation, but they have the power to alter how we do business forever.

According to the SVP of Sales and Marketing for 3D Robotics, Colin Guinn,“[With drones] …architects and engineers can target their action more effectively based on incredibly accurate and reliable empirical information, obtained whenever they want it.”

Not only that, but scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland have developed drones that can create rope bridges. A team from the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania has even created drones that can put together nearly any structure.

This technology has interesting implications for the construction industry. SkyCatch offers a high-level view of the construction site and promises to improve workflow visibility using drone technology. The Ministry of Labor in United Arab Emirates has even begun using drones to check for construction violations. Regulation is still in its infancy however, although startups are throwing their hats into the ring to provide software to help consumers and businesses alike.

And look what happens when you throw a camera on a drone:

 

The fact of that matter is that drones are going affect our work in the future and they’re already starting to do so in the here and now.

3-D Printing

While you may have seen this technology used to create small models, the reality is that 3-D printing can do a host of things during the construction process, from improving communication and clarity to actually creating materials used directly in the final project.

According to Justin Porter and Tiffany Avila from BNBuilders, “While 3D printing has been extremely helpful for collaborating with designers to make important decisions, it has also proved to be very valuable for helping us plan and sequence complex assemblies. …The use of 3D printing has allowed us to be an active participant with our design partners in design-build pursuits.”

Skanska is using the technology to print concrete. Yes, you read that right. According to the director of innovation and business improvement Rob Francis, “[it] has the potential to reduce the time needed to create complex elements of buildings from weeks to hours.”

Not only that, but we’re printing 3-D homes now, like this one in New York. And many think that printing homes could solve homelessness because printing homes saves materials, is eco-friendly, and much faster than the traditional construction process.

Green Building

Energy efficiency can seem like an expensive fad, but the fact is that it’s growing and it’s here to stay. According to William Pentland, “By 2015, green buildings in the commercial sector are expected to triple, accounting for $120 billion to $145 billion in new construction and $14 billion to $18 billion in major retrofit and renovation projects.”

The materials themselves are getting better too, from recycled lumber to insulating concrete forms. And The U.S. Green Building Council just announced an extension to LEED 2009, so you have additional time to prepare for LEED v4.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that we’re big fans of building green. Greenbuild is one of our favorite conferences to attend every year and we love seeing the innovative ways that folks are meeting the challenges of efficiency.

 

What do you think? Are there any trends that we missed that you’re seeing? Tell us in the comments!

6 replies
  1. Emily Mainzer
    Emily Mainzer says:

    It was an interesting read! 3D technology has been shaping the construction industry for decades. The industry has placed high value in integrating and utilizing technology. Thanks for sharing these information.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Skipper
      Elizabeth Skipper says:

      Thanks, Emily! Use of 3D definitely continues to increase, and there are so many more applications on the horizon. Out of curiosity, do you think we missed anything in our list?

      Reply
  2. Vasant Mungara
    Vasant Mungara says:

    Very good post…i like this….i really appreciate the way construction industry is heading high with excellent technology trends…and this article shows how fast is this happening with technologies like the drones and 3D printing home technology ….

    Reply
  3. Mark
    Mark says:

    Really interesting…Thanks for the post.

    Any industry that utilizes the Technology properly will be the winner of the future…i guess

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Skipper
      Elizabeth Skipper says:

      I think it will take more than just using technology to be the winner, but I agree that it will play a big part!

      P.S. Have you checked out our series of posts about BIM in construction?

      Reply

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