At Submittal.com, we’ve spent a lot of time learning about the submittal process. But it’s not the only thing we pay attention to. When it comes to many of the innovations that are changing the construction industry, we’re always looking around to stay on top of the latest emerging technologies, products, and ideas that will shape our future.
Here are just a few things that have caught our eye.
Telematics and IoT
Paying for equipment that sits idle, poor tracking of equipment assets, or having vehicles break down in the middle of a job because of overlooked maintenance issues wastes money and time. The Internet of Things (IoT) — essentially telematics in the construction field — is helping contractors monitor and track equipment and vehicles with real-time information to optimize usage and investment.
While tracking systems have been around for awhile, more recent protocol standardization is now enabling mixed-fleet monitoring and other productivity enhancements. ES Track from Equipment Share is just one of many solutions now available.
Telematics systems can’t function well without solid jobsite connectivity. In addition, large-scale projects utilizing tools such as Procore, PlanGrid, and the like must have reliable networks to make real-time collaboration with onsite and offsite stakeholders possible. Tools maker DEWALT has aimed its sights on solving that challenge with a new rugged construction site WiFi system. Along with their Tools Connect System, and planned future release of an IoT platform, the company looks to become an all-in-one construction technology solution.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
It wasn’t long ago that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) was the stuff of science fiction. Nowadays, nearly every online gaming enthusiast owns a VR headset, and the curious can buy one for less than a case of beer. So it makes sense in the 3-D world of construction where technology and engineering is increasingly more sophisticated, that virtual reality and augmented reality will soon be part of contactors’ tool kits.
The ability to visualize projects on site before construction begins or as it progresses can improve the design process, facilitate communication, and mitigate costly mistakes. This MIT Technology Review article explains one construction firm’s experience with Microsoft’s HoloLens. For a Virginia Commonwealth University Health System renovation, DPR Construction used Oculus Rift to enable users to virtually walk through BIM mockups and provide feedback before construction began. For a thorough list of VR technologies in architecture and engineering, check out this article in VIA Technik.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention drones. Ubiquitous now for their ability to obtain video in otherwise inaccessible areas, such as disaster sites, drones are being used in surprisingly innovative ways in construction. According the Economist, the construction industry “has been pursuing the idea of ‘reality capture’, using technology to measure buildings precisely during construction and track the use of raw materials on site to ensure that everything is going according to plan.” Contractors can even use drones and tools like HoloBuilder to create aerial virtual reality tours of a project. This Medium article provides a detailed overview of the kinds of drone software applications and hardware you should be considering
Other Tools, Technologies and Trends
Still feel like geeking out on more new and upcoming technologies — programmable cement, anyone? You may enjoy the following articles:
7 Construction-Technology Trends to Watch in 2017 (South Bay Construction)
Material Trends to Watch in 2017 (Architect Magazine)
2017 Most Innovative Products (Concrete Construction)