Technology in Construction: 5 Gadgets Shaping the Industry - Hammr
The twenty-first century is age tech age, with new advances being introduced almost daily.
The construction industry is also part of this technological revolution with new construction software, cool tools, and robots making regular construction tasks safer and easier.
What role does construction technology play in the industry, and are tradespeople going to be replaced by technology?
We’ll answer those questions and more as we look at some of the newest construction technologies used in our industry and how we, as workers, continue to fit into the picture.
Be sure to check out our Bred to Build podcast episode on the topic of technology in construction. In this episode, we have an insightful conversation with Hugh Seaton, a seasoned professional in the construction technology space.
Table of Contents
- What Is Construction Technology and Why Is It Important?
- 5 Construction Technology Examples
- How Construction Technologies Make the Industry More Attractive
- Will Technology in Construction Eliminate the Need for Tradesmen?
- Hammr: Continue the Construction Technology Discussion With Other Professionals in the Industry
Construction technology includes new technologies that may help in different aspects of the construction trades — both before and during construction.
Construction technology can include …
- Artificial Reality/Virtual Reality
- Machinery; and
… that are designed to provide a variety of benefits:
- Increased productivity
- Streamlined processes
- Improved safety
- Alleviate back-breaking tasks
- Greater collaboration; and
- Lessening the effects of labor shortages
Tradespeople who have been constructing buildings for many years bring invaluable experience to their trade. They are most likely comfortable with and proficient with tools like:
- Nail guns
- Measuring tapes
- And more
However, construction firms that hold off on implementing some forms of new technology in construction may risk losing profits brought on by greater competition.
Not only that, new construction technology has the potential to improve the construction industry by leaps and bounds. Technology not only helps contractors, but it also can boost the economy in general, and that helps everyone.
There are many construction technologies that exist today. From new software to innovative and cool tools, technology in construction is a field that is as varied as the workers that may implement them.
#1: Software, Apps, and Cloud-Based Tools
Construction software and apps are likely the most prolific example of construction technology used today and are accepted and implemented with great success.
Construction software and mobile app solutions are available today for many parts of a construction project, including:
- Project management
- Field reporting
- Financial reports
- Construction documentation
- Invoicing; and
Many of these software solutions are cloud-based which means less paper to deal with.
Cloud-based solutions can be used for all kinds of processes, like:
- Capturing data
- Planning and implementation; and
- Collaboration and communication
Because these solutions are also mobile, team members can access them practically everywhere.
The Value of Software, Apps, and Cloud-Based Tools in Construction
Switching over from “this is the way we’ve always done it” to a new way that involves learning new software or unfamiliar approaches can seem like a daunting task. This can be especially true for the older generation, who may think, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Though learning a new software program or learning how to use a new app on your phone can be frustrating, taking the time to surpass the learning curve is often worth it.
New software programs mean streamlining many processes which can translate into more time to work on other parts of a project that demand human brainpower and muscle.
Cloud-based solutions can save time on data entry and help keep information organized so it’s easy to access. Forget shuffling through files and stacks of papers to find important reports and documents.
Do mobile platforms seem too difficult to deal with? Once you get past the learning curve, you can enjoy updates and revisions being made in real-time, making communication and collaboration easier and quicker.
Robots are new innovative tools that are beginning to be introduced in construction projects for tasks that can be automated — things like bricklaying and rebar tying.
Robots can be a viable option for controlled tasks that require a narrow set of actions. They can work continuously, saving time, energy, and workers’ backs.
But robots can’t function alone.
Humans are still needed to turn on the robots, set them up to do what they are made to do, and oversee the work.
Three main types of robots being used today include:
- Factory robots that can perform a repeated action.
- Collaborative robots that aid human workers by carrying heavy equipment and tools.
- Completely autonomous robots that can survey an area and complete tasks without any human intervention.
The Value of Robots in Construction
Though robots can’t completely replace workers, their value is rooted in specified circumstances.
In these particular instances, robots can:
- Typically complete tasks quicker than workers.
- Help make the work environment safer for workers.
- Help workers be more productive.
- Be a solution that helps with the labor shortage.
Drones are becoming increasingly popular on worksites and are regularly used on construction sites to perform the following tasks:
- Perform daily inspections and safety checks
- Provide security monitoring
- Record work progress with photos
- Complete preconstruction maps and surveys
- Keep track of equipment and its location
The Value of Drones in Construction
Just like robots, drones need humans to fly them, but they provide substantial benefits.
Drones can do the job in a fraction of the time that the same tasks would take a human to complete, sometimes with greater efficiency and thoroughness.
Drones can also help:
- Reduce costs
- Save time
- Workers expend less energy; and
- Perform more dangerous tasks
#4: Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is provided using a mobile device that enables a construction worker to see the real picture with enhanced digital information.
For example, suppose a GC is surveying progress and needs a reminder of the dimensions of a particular wall and what the final result will look like. By using a tablet with augmented reality capabilities, the GC could simply point the tablet at the wall and see building plans as if they were a part of the actual wall.
Augmented reality is also being used currently to:
- Automate measurements
- Visualize potential changes
- Give safety information in real-time
Currently, most augmented reality is accessed on a computer or tablet, but in the future, watch for augmented reality glasses, which will allow workers to gather information hands-free.
The Value of Augmented Reality in Construction
Augmented reality gives information to construction professionals precisely where it is needed. With the necessary information directly in front of them, workers can:
- Problem solve
- Follow building plans more effectively; and
- Analyze tasks
Wearables are used to provide extra safety to workers and are included on items like:
- Hard hats
- Work boots
- Safety vests
These new apparatuses come with …
- GPS locators
- Voltage detectors; and
- Other monitoring devices
… that sense motions, movements, and falls of the workers wearing them.
These wearable devices can also come equipped with geofencing, which sounds an alarm when a worker enters a restricted or hazardous area.
Some wearables can even monitor vital signs and sound an alarm if a worker seems fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Value of Wearables in Construction
With the many risks inherent in construction work, safety is a high priority, and wearables can help maintain that precedence.
Many in the construction industry are seeing the following benefits of implementing wearables on job sites:
- Improved safety
- Increased productivity
- Accident prevention
- Improved safety for workers working alone
- Worker efficiency
Technological advancement in the construction industry makes the industry attractive to contractors, veteran tradesmen, and newbies alike.
A labor shortage will likely always be a problem in the construction world.
Construction technologies can help by making the industry continue to be attractive for those working hard to maintain the industry and those coming in to decrease the shortage.
- The deployment of resources will help find out which workers are proficient at which tasks and put those people where they are needed. In the end, contractors will be able to be more resourceful with the labor pool.
- Technology in construction will also help make each worker more valuable. With tools that can help millennial workers remember important tasks, workers will be more efficient and make better decisions.
- Implementing construction site technology provides a way for young people coming into the industry to feel pride in what they’ve helped build. With technological advances, new workers can be prepared quicker, and veteran tradespeople can be freed up to teach only what can be taught by humans.
Plus, technology in construction is awesome — and that’s a big draw for millennials and Gen Zs who are miles ahead of the old-timers in technology.
The answer is no!
Even though construction technology is growing in popularity and offers many benefits, there will always be tasks on a site that only humans can do.
For example, many tasks on a job site involve problem-solving — and robots don’t do that. Robots merely do what they are programmed to do.
When something unexpected arises, or a wall or floor isn’t exactly level, a robot isn’t equipped to figure out what to do. There are simply too many variables in a construction project that a robot can’t adjust to.
Robots work great in their lane, but not so much when it comes to actually needing to think.
Other than problem-solving, there’s nothing like an actual live human to teach and demonstrate how to perform certain tasks. Sure, you can watch a video to learn a proper technique, but having someone beside you to show you the tricks of the trade is irreplaceable.
Additionally, there’s no replacement for on-the-job training. Again, watching a video can be helpful, but it’s no substitute for getting a tool in your hand and using it on the job in person.
Even with the various construction technologies already mentioned, none of them operate themselves. All these technologies need people to do some of the work, like turning them on or setting them up to perform the task they are designed to do.
Do you like construction technology? Do you like building things?
Hammr is the perfect place for you to share ideas, showcase your work and get involved in the construction and technology discussion with other like-minded trades.
Hammr gives you the mobile platform to network with others in the construction industry to:
- Share ideas
- Show off your work
- Make connections; and
- Gain feedback
Hammr instantly connects you with those in your trade — saving you time and connecting you with other like-minded tradespeople who take pride in their work.
Download the app today and join the over 10,000 who have already joined.