Trends and innovations

   The construction industry is leveraging technology to make construction management and site operations more efficient and sustainable. The major construction industry trends include building information modeling (BIM), construction robotics, and the use of advanced building materials.
    Further, the COVID-19 pandemic creates the need for newer ways of construction that adhere to worker safety and regulations. Hence, increasing development innovations around prefabrication, worker safety, and construction robotics. Parallelly, 3D printing and green building solutions significantly reduce the negative impacts of construction on the environment.

Impact Of Construction Industry Trends
    Companies prefer a more collaborative approach and make the overall construction lifecycle much more transparent. Solutions to this end include advanced BIM software and cloud-based management tools. Companies also use construction robots to shorten the construction time by increasing the accuracy of construction processes.
    Moreover, the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) and reality technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) ensures worker safety and connects job sites. Advanced building materials have enhanced properties and fit modern construction methods like modular and sustainable construction.
    Additionally, technology digitalises construction monitoring and inspection, making it easier for construction planners and site supervisors. 3D Printing automates the construction process and reduces the need for a manual workforce while also offering higher flexibility.

Building Information Modeling
    Building planning and designing is a collaborative process that requires inputs from multiple stakeholders including engineers, architects, builders, and clients, among others. With the traditional method, it is difficult to visualize changes in real-time as everyone works on their unique files. This results in generating multiple versions of the same plan and causes confusion.
    Advanced BIM tools solve this problem by providing a central database and enabling everyone to work on a single shared model. While 5D BIM allows for the cost and time overlays, 6D BIM also accounts for energy budgeting.
    These solutions identify clashes during the initial stages and improve overall workflow efficiency. In combination with AR and VR, BIM solutions enable the visualization of models on a real scale and testing in a simulated environment.
    BIM software that allows all the construction stakeholders to manage, report, and monitor their projects in real-time in a single platform. It provides pre-construction features like revision management, team collaboration, and clash detection. During construction, BIMCRONE helps in collaboration, asset management, delay analysis, field monitoring, change management, and overall project management. The solution also offers post-construction solutions where stakeholders track asset availability and manage financial transactions.

Offsite Construction
    Offsite construction, one of the emerging construction industry trends, allows designing, manufacturing, and fabricating building elements in a factory. In traditional construction, weather conditions increase costs by introducing contingency fees and require extra labor hours. Onsite construction also produces a lot of material waste. Offsite construction, on the other hand, transforms the construction lifecycle in terms of sustainability, worker safety, and quality. It incorporates a range of innovative materials, 3D printing technology, and novel assembling techniques.
    The first part of offsite construction involves volumetric construction which includes modular and pod construction. This technique allows the prefabrication of heavy 3D structures like rooms and homes. The second aspect includes panelised construction under which the factory develops flat panels for use in walls, floors, or roof panes. Modern commercial buildings use this technique to install partitions and support elements.
    Designs and builds modular building parts in a factory. Mechanical Modular Solution specializes in prefabrication and offsite construction and updates its PODular technology regularly. They uses volumetric construction techniques to build modules like low and medium-voltage switchgear systems, battery rooms, control and projection rooms, and substations for electrical purposes. They also build low-temperature hot water rooms (LTHW), cooling pump rooms, and processes that interface buildings  for mechanical infrastructure. Under laboratory construction,  MMS builds biohazard labs and other modular rooms for pharma and biotech applications. 

Construction Robotics
    Construction continues to be one of the most labor-intensive industries. It includes many repetitive and time-consuming tasks which can be done faster through robotics and automation. Construction robots also reduce human-induced error and losses due to fatigue. For example, collaborative robots automate bricklaying, welding, rebar tying, painting, and many such repetitive tasks with great precision.
    Robotics solutions also automate heavy equipment and fleets for excavation, transportation, load lifting, concrete works, and demolition. This increases construction worker safety and significantly reduces operational time. Construction automation using robots increases the overall productivity of the project, reduces the labor requirement, and provides safety for dangerous or hazardous tasks.
    Providing autonomous heavy robots for load lifting, logistics, patrolling, inspection, and disinfection.The develop a range of solutions including back-support exoskeletons to reduce strain when lifting heavy objects. It also develops shoulder exoskeletons to enable workers to perform chest to ceiling level tasks for longer durations. Further, it has a leg support exoskeleton that reduces muscle strain in the quadriceps around the knee joint. They also offer Outdoor UGV Hunters and Rough Terrain Bunker Robots to automate on-site delivery and disinfection tasks. Weston Robot improves productivity by replacing time and energy consuming tasks with independent robots.

3D Construction Printing
    3D printing in construction, also known as additive construction, is a sustainable and efficient method of construction. Construction printers either print entire buildings or only prefabricated building components. 3D printing is a robotic approach that prints the design layer by layer with advanced construction materials in collaboration with BIM. It has high design flexibility without the need for formwork. The various methods used for printing are extrusion, power bonding, and additive welding. Comparatively, 3D construction printing produces less waste and requires fewer labor resources than traditional brick construction methods. It is a fully automated and programmed process that also eliminates human error and improves productivity.
    Designs and manages 3D printing projects for residential and architectural projects. Twente Additive Manufacturing provides architectural structures and evaluates the designs in-house using finite element analysis. They use several 3D printing technologies including gantry, delta, swing-arm, and boom. They provide 3D printers with different axes and configurations based on the project requirements. The provide laboratory and entry-level printers for small-scale printing for indoor operations. Further, it offers mid-size and mobile printers suitable for the production of small and medium parts. They also offer large-scale 3D printers that facilitate 24×7 production for large single element creations.

Construction Project Management
    Digital project management, one of the upcoming construction industry trends, uses cloud-based software to achieve the goals of quality, time, and cost. Project management already has defined principles for each phase of construction. In the initial phase, the project manager uses AI-based predictive algorithms to understand the project feasibility. Once approved, the manager sets milestones for everyone and distributes the resources using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. In addition to ERP software, cloud-based tools ensure transparency and allow for large volume data storage. Managers also use such software to track expected and actual outcomes of every task and gather insights into bottlenecks. Towards the end of the project, managers draw blockchain-based smart contracts to affirm legal obligations and prevent financial fraud. In this way, digital construction project management reduces waste, increases workforce efficiency, and ensures project completion by deadline.
    Utilising computer vision to improve construction site visibility. They automate project management using advanced AI, ML, and robotic technologies. The platform deploys virtual engineers to monitor every job throughout the construction site. An algorithm identifies objects along with contextual information and compares them with the expected data to track the progress of projects. The Constru platform also provides an overview of project schedules, budget overruns, and future risks. Project managers use this platform to streamline construction processes, acquire data-driven insights, and gain clarity on all ongoing projects. 

Advanced Building Materials
    As the construction industry shifts to modular and green approaches, advanced materials are complementing the new ways of construction. Many innovative and sustainable materials are replacing the older ones, such as 3D printed concrete and basalt. Materials made from living organisms are gaining in popularity with self-healing concrete that uses bacteria.
    Moreover, sustainable materials such as mycelium composites, bioplastics, and biofoam also form a part of this construction industry trend. The next category of innovative materials includes aerogel, graphene, spider silk, carbon composites, hydroceramics, and nanomaterials. These materials are lighter and have a higher water holding capacity. Advanced wooden and aluminum materials such as bamboo, cross-laminated timber, transparent woods, and aluminum foam have higher strength and biodegradability.
    Providing modular timber-based solutions for the construction industry. Their engineers CLT cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glued laminated timber (GLT) which are useful in modular construction. The wooden alternatives have enhanced properties like durability, strength, stability, seismic resilience, thermal performance, fire resistance, moisture management, vapor diffusion, and design flexibility. N.Z Future Forest Products aims to replace the use of carbon-intensive concrete and steel with environment-friendly wooden materials.

Construction Worker Safety
    Worker safety still remains one of the most overlooked areas in the construction industry since companies look to minimize labor costs. Increasingly, modern-day construction strictly complies with worker safety rules. While immersive technologies prevent probable onsite accidents, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) acts as a life savior. Construction companies use AI algorithms to predict hazards and take safety measures accordingly. VR technologies train field workers for hazardous tasks via immersive training to reduce accident probability while AR allows fabricators to scan through the objects.
    To ensure worker safety, companies use PPE embedded with IoT sensors. The sensors detect signals in the form of vibrations, temperature, heart rate, steps, and more and send the information for further analysis. This allows supervisors to remotely monitor worker’s health conditions and productivity. Advanced safety products benefit both workers and companies by minimizing physical and financial losses.
    A multi-stakeholder construction worksite management platform that develops IoT-based smartwatches for remote worker health monitoring. It provides connectivity across smartwatches, smartphones, and laptops to improve accessibility and secure worksites. IoSite creates connected infrastructure using wearable technology which boosts overall productivity. The smartwatch senses worker conditions and sends real-time updates, work progress, and regular health reports to managers during check-in and check-out. It also sends emergency alerts to ensure worker safety in remote settings.

Connected Construction Site
    Construction projects have many dynamic parts and controlling all the elements is crucial to project success. One way to ensure smooth operations is through connecting construction sites. Creating structured workflows and integrating data at each step of construction works ensures the availability of the right information to each stakeholder.      Connected construction sites bring together people, processes, and information using AR, VR, AI, robotics, and wearables. IoT technologies, in combination with AI, enable predictive logistics and improve worker safety during the construction and also optimize inventory to reduce wastage and related costs. Computer vision enables instant support and guidance, connecting construction sites to the main office. Such solutions allow managers to make faster and more informed decisions based on real-time data.
    Developing video assistance software for construction field operations. The software reduces onsite travel and enables on-call guidance, diagnosis, and resolution. The software provides AR calling between the field and distant office experts in the same augmented environment. The technical expert uses ViiBE’s collaborative annotation function and creates groups of specific types to ensure that the correct experts are contacted at the right time. This improves communication efficiency which, in turn, reduces machine downtime and increases productivity.

Green Buildings
    Sustainability is the main focus of many emerging construction industry trends. Currently, it is time-consuming and expensive to identify sustainable materials or processes for construction projects. Green building is a popular concept that adopts environmentally-friendly measures from pre-construction planning up to project closure and decommissioning. Green buildings optimize energy and resource utilization, reduce waste during construction, and enable buildings to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
    Various certifications qualify buildings as green or sustainable depending on the above-mentioned parameters. One of the popular certifications is LEED, also known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, from the U.S. Green Building Council. Increasingly, advanced materials for construction purposes are also LEED-certified.
    Providing building products and materials databases to construction companies for implementing green building projects. They collects technical and functional data of the certified green products and allows users to filter for materials by technical properties. This simplifies the process of material selection for all green building projects and significantly accelerates material sourcing for projects. Effective Building aims to make green building affordable and accessible for all building and construction professionals.

Construction Monitoring
    As construction projects are geographically spread and involve many assets and human resources, it is difficult to manually monitor projects. Various areas in construction sites are beyond human reach but still require regular inspection. This is why construction companies are adopting technology to streamline construction monitoring.
    Value addition from monitoring depends on the level of the monitoring process, which starts from a lightweight audit function (CM1) to quality assuranc(QA). Advanced monitoring and inspection techniques use drone-based monitoring in combination with LIDAR or thermal sensors. Construction worker monitoring uses high-definition (HD) cameras and AI-based facial recognition techniques to improve productivity. Robots also detect faults and failures in the structures using embedded sensor technologies with more accuracy than manual inspection.
    Using cloud-based and hardware solutions to facilitate indoor inspection on construction sites. Their robotic solution Holobot is an autonomous drone that scans construction sites and reports errors to the inspection authorities. Holobot uses high-resolution LIDAR point clouds to scan the building even in GPS-denied areas. The data is then transmitted to AI-based servers for analysis and error detection. The solution reduces monitoring costs for construction companies using digital twins while significantly speeding up inspection processes and quality.