Construction:
A Cutting Edge Field

Construction:
A Cutting Edge Field

“Cutting Edge” has come to construction! From AI and advanced intelligent materials to drones and robotics, the industry is constantly evolving, using new ways to build faster and more economically, and toward greater sustainability. Moreover, technology helps resolve real-world problems in the process of creating a physical place. This makes it very different from working in technology in other industries. In construction, the digital will always impact our physical environment. As construction professionals say: learn how to turn dreams into reality using the latest technology. Sharpen your computer skills. Be hardware and software savvy. Know networking. Because these are the kind of high-tech tools you’ll be putting to use in construction!
“Digital and data roles have become paramount to the way work is performed and benchmarked in construction. Additionally with new emerging technologies construction can use expertise from all disciplines and backgrounds, including analytics, robotics, and general technology.”
Val Tzvetkov
Director, Emerging Technology and VDC, Skanska USA Building
Robotcrane

Robotics

Remotely operated robotic bulldozers, excavators, and other types of construction equipment—even remotely operated cranes to place giant steel beams—are here. Robots are also used to record progress quickly and super accurately, detecting where construction has deviated from the plans, and doing various construction tasks, like drywall and other types of installations, better and faster than people can. One example of robotic adaption is the robot printers that take digital drawings and print in the physical environment. These speed up the layout process more than 10X and extend the working life of a construction foreman by reducing unnecessary strain. Robots also make job sites safer.
“A lot of effort goes into planning the project ahead of time, so you know what to do in the field. Within the Virtual Design and Construction department of Skanska Civil, we carefully analyze the drawings and then create a virtual, dimensionally accurate model of both the existing conditions and the proposed design. After we have the models, we then dissect the project piece by piece to figure out how we’re going to get from point A to point B, in order to build the project on schedule and on budget while maintaining safety.”
Patrick Rice
Senior VDC Manager, Skanska Civil
Drone

Drones

From aerial mapping to tracking the thousands of materials and pieces of equipment on a construction project, to providing total 24/7 security monitoring of a job site, drones offer many benefits to the industry. Unlike traditional aerial photography, drones provide more detailed information, are faster and less expensive. They’re especially helpful to owners with multiple projects, and virtually anyone from an operations team can learn to operate one. The information from drones is collected in an archive, from existing conditions to turnover, and is an aerial visual timeline of the project.
iWatch

Construction Wearables

Construction workers are getting a safety edge: smart boots that signal when workers are in danger of coming too close to nearby construction vehicles, power gloves that add strength and agility to workers' hands, and even construction exoskeletons that provide workers with an extra set of hands and reduce body strain while working in the field. See this link for a primer on construction wearables.
Construction Wearables
3d printer

3D Printing

The big payoff with 3D printing is that it will reduce material waste by both using OnDemand material but also by optimizing the traditional structure of buildings and bridges. This will allow more recycled materials to be used in building materials as they are used for tabletop 3D printers currently. Secondly, the labor and uncertainty of placing one brick or one steel piece at a time will shift to an industry of material-based design rather than means and methods. In the end, this will allow for a fundamental change on how the built environment is designed and constructed.

Yes, you can now print out a house. Stronger, more affordable, and more environmentally friendly, 3d printed structures are gaining ground around the world, and are a total win for the global housing shortage. Look at this video to see how—and why—it’s being done more and more!

Why This 3D-Printed House Will Change the World.
3d model

Building Information Models/Virtual Design and Construction

Digitization has come to construction. Short for virtual design and construction/building information modeling, this technology lets you construct a building virtually—on the computer— before any ground is broken. Similar to a dress rehearsal for a performance on Broadway, building things is a concert of complex activities that require analysis and synchronization to achieve the best result possible. All the info on stakeholder needs, and systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc.), materials, and sometimes their costs, is built in. When you change, say, the position of a wall, the software automatically changes the associated plans, sections, and elevations. The result: better, faster, and more useful buildings.

Seen in three dimensions, 3D Models and BIM allow the building team to break down a complex project, phase it efficiently, and discover the most efficient, innovative way to proceed. 3D models make it easier to perform constructibility reviews, tracking, fabrication, community outreach, and many other construction tasks.
VR user

Virtual Reality Walk-through

The use of 360-degree cameras gives project teams and clients efficient tools to visually examine details of the project, often saving valuable time and money. Virtual reality, or VR, lets the building team and clients “walk through” the unbuilt space. They can make design decisions before pouring concrete or fabricating a single element. During preconstruction, the project team uses VR to inspect the mechanical spaces, discuss value engineering options, and annotate the model all from their remote locations, in real-time. VR technology gives all stakeholders a better understanding of the proposed designs and improves the decision-making process, which saves time and money spent on unnecessary materials.
AR

Augmented Reality

The payoff for augmented reality (AR) is similar to what’s described in virtual reality except you can overlay reality and virtual. This potentially will allow it to be more impactful for longer in construction vs virtual reality but there are also more variables to consider. Most commonly in construction AR is used to superimpose the 3D model over the field conditions in order to answer questions such as whether something is in right place or if a specific piece of equipment fits in the space. There are also several consumer apps that let you test out furniture (IKEA), measure your room using a virtual measuring tape, or give you directions in google maps. No question AR will have a huge impact long term.
Machine Learning

Machine Learning

Machine Learning is in its infancy and it’s a very broad term; the promise is that it will help us make better and faster decisions by sifting through giant data sets. Optimization of process if you will. One example of a near future adaption is a subset called Computer Vision which allows the computer to sift through huge data sets of images and find matches. There are solutions on the market that can identify safety concerns and help keep track of processes onsite. This data comes from the analysis of video or image data alone.

As a subset of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning is directed toward practical applications, such as making the design of spaces more relevant to end users—like tweaking the design of a kitchen or a meeting room to reflect how people will use it. Machine learning software can sift through data with lightning speed and provide valuable results—like flagging design flaws, construction safety issues, project risks that could indicate trouble down the line. See what a young construction professional has to say about it.
Construction Machine Learning
Laser scanner

Laser Scanning

3D laser scanners collect millions of accurate measurements of a built environment, and they also have the capability to take 3D panoramic photographs. In a renovation project, laser scanning is critical in determining actual existing conditions, allowing constructors to eliminate potential clash issues. Together laser scanning and BIM can confirm constructability and make modifications for proper coordination. At project turnover, laser scanning can help optimize equipment layout for maximum operational efficiency.
360 camera

360 Photography

High-definition 360-degree cameras capture panoramic photographs and video. With pan and zoom capabilities, these photos can capture more content faster and with 75 percent fewer files compared to traditional panorama capture methods. This dynamic imagery can be used to create virtual job site walk-through tours, capture existing as-built conditions, and archive areas for future inspections prior to closing walls (i.e., when wall finishes, and ceilings are installed one can investigate the wall to see the systems within). The use of 360-degree cameras gives project teams and clients efficient tools to visually examine details of the project, often saving valuable time and money.

Fast Facts about Builders

Augmented reality is affecting construction—in winning more projects, improving safety and facilitating team interaction.

Women are increasingly joining the construction workforce, in skilled trades all the way to the executive suite.

From AI and advanced intelligent materials to drones and robotics, the construction industry is building better and more sustainably.

Skilled trades let you follow your passion in a specialized way.

Infrastructure builds big to move people and products.

There are many paths to construction and many ways to get there.

Construction is going green every which way, every day.

You can use your skills, make good money, and do something meaningful.

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