Various factors have set a new wave of productivity in motion in the construction industry and are soon to be seen in the year 2018. To start with the advancement and application of technology in various industries and sectors has been increasing at a shocking speed. New discoveries are being adopted to modernize old work processes.

Other than technological breakthroughs, there has also been a change in mindset in the society. Labour force is becoming more quality focused. At the same time, gender bias in the industry is decreasing and turning into a need for more knowledge focused personal.

With all this in mind, what can we expect to see in 2018? We will definitely see various trends that will focus on technology creating a direct or an indirect effect on the construction industry. Therefore, we decided to put together an article that outlines the emerging trends to lookout for in the year 2018!

1. Building Information Model (BIM)

Building Information Modelling takes into account the most crucial thing in a construction project: Collaboration. After its initial launch, BIM tech has been evolving and has introduced many maturity levels that takes into account the level and extent of collaboration it offers.

So far, BIM has held a lot of interest from the construction industry. More and more, contractors are implementing BIM technology in their work processes. The BIM Level 2 mandate in UK has also started the ball rolling towards this direction.

There are various benefits to BIM tech in the construction industry from collaboration to cost and resource management. The latest version called the 5D BIM provides shorter project cycles, project scope understanding and increase in productivity.

The National BIM report of 2017 by NBS, shows astonishing insights into the world of construction. The report shows that the respondents’ perception of the benefits of BIM tech is very positive. According to the report, 78% of the respondents believe BIM is the future of project information, 70% of them believe that cost reduction in building/design/maintenance of lifecycle will be achieved and 60% believe that BIM will bring about time efficiencies in the project from the time it was conceived to completion.

So it’s clear that there is going to be less resistance with adapting BIM in construction projects. In fact with such favorable responses we might see more advancements with BIM in 2018.

2. Project Management Software

Like various other industries, construction has realized the potential of implementing a project management software. Real-time project management software has been continuously advancing in order to draw more insights from data.

The software provides the construction industry with three fundamental advantages: Efficiency, Transparency and Accountability. The latest software provides real-time communication, project overview, trackability and integrations with other software.

A project management software is not as glamorous as BIM, and it’s not trying to be! What it is doing is improving and optimizing the basics of how construction projects get the job done. Its existence is due to lack of efficiency and waste in the construction industry.

Efficiency and waste due to lack of project management was observed by Project Management Institute as well. In their 2016 report, they outlined the costs of low performance. It was deeply linked with project management planning. The following are the current project management outcomes mentioned in the report. Though, the recent trend is changing. There is a lot of focus towards improving the way the industry operates. Which is why big data tech is being introduced in construction. In the year 2018, we will see a high usage of Project Management Software. Construction managers can already see the benefits behind real-time project management software and we are sure to see more of it the next year.

3. VR and AR

Compared to augmented reality, virtual reality is a much more common tool in construction. It is often used in BIM. Its biggest benefit is the ability to provide virtual walk throughs in order to sell property and pitch architectural ideas to clients. The possibility to virtually show clients what their investment will look like beforehand, makes VR a very sexy technology.

The technology’s benefits are not limited to design and architecture. In construction, it can be effectively used to provide safety training to workers. Preparing workers to operate the necessary machinery through simulation is a very effective method. VR enables easy communication and collaboration on site.

One such example of virtual reality tech is the famous Daqri Helmet. The helmet has benefited various industry, including construction.

Typically in construction, clients are given project updates through photographs and on-site tours. The use of virtual reality allows managers to focus on more pending task. The era of virtual reality is only just beginning. In the year 2018, the appreciation and application of what we can achieve through VR will be seen.

On the other hand, the basic essence of augmented reality is enhancing what we see through data and information. This can provide accurate measurements, material details and reduce the risk of errors. Design clashes that are mostly absent in BIM can be identified and changed based on the client’s specification.

In order to reap the most out of AR, there should be a complete flow of data. The technology demands a large data repository which is mostly absent in a typical construction project. As mentioned earlier, 95% of the data is either thrown away or not collected at all in construction.

But a change in trend is appearing. Construction is gradually becoming more data focused and when that happens the possibilities and benefits of AR would be immense. Therefore, we can definitely expect a much clearer and better use of augmented reality in construction. In short, we will see more VR and AR in the 2018.

4. Robotics

Robotics and Automation have revolutionized various industries. Its arrival in construction has been slow but it’s here now and rapidly spreading. There has been much technological advancement made in robotics. One such example is MIT’s Digital Construction Platform which uses 3D printing to create form structures.

The benefits of such technology are huge. Although still in its infancy stage, robotics can replace humans and can get the job done faster, safer and cheaper. The 3D printing robotic arm just touches the tip of the iceberg. More will follow and mostly definitely a trend to see in the upcoming year.

5. Drones

There has been much talk about Drones and the numerous advantages they provide to a construction project. It is extensively used in mapping the construction site (thereby gathering data of the entire site), reporting the changes and updates of the project to clients, and monitoring and inspecting job sites.

Data collected from drone footage can also be used to analyse the progress of the project. In short, through drones construction managers are able to get the job done faster and with less money. According to Jdsupra, the worldwide market value of the drone industry will rise from $2 billion to $10 billion in 10 years.

On a similar note, Goldman Sachs estimates that businesses and government investment on drone tech will reach to $13 billion till 2020. In terms of drone production, commercial development of drones will increase from $2.6 billion today to $10.9 billion by 2025. In general the drone industry is forecasted to grow to $11.2 billion in 2021.

As one of the most glamorous technology in construction, the usage and investment of drone is sure to increase in the year 2018 and so are its benefits.

6. Modular Buildings

Modular buildings or prefabricated buildings is the development of a building structure off-site, and then transporting it to the desired site without compromising on quality. There is no change in building materials and supplies, and the job is done in less time. According to Westchester Modular, through modular construction the job can be done 65 times faster.

Of course modular construction does not answer all of our construction needs. There is always the option to renovate but modular construction is still considered a very effective and new method of construction. According to Modular.org, structurally modular buildings are more sound. They pass through intense quality assurance tests to make sure that the building is up to code.

Modular construction essentially moves 80% of construction work off-site. This reduces noise and other disruption on-site. It also increases safety and security with handling equipment as the work is monitored.

Modular construction requires accurate data and measurements to create structures. Therefore, as more focus shifts towards data in the industry we will see more projects that have been created modularly. Hence, another trend to see next year!

7. Green Construction

One of the most significant change observed in the construction industry is the growing interest in green construction. There has been a global change in the way people consume. Consumers have started to change their lifestyles – reason behind Airbnb’s popularity. The reduction in waste and purchase of disposable goods, and an increase in collaborative consumption has set a trend where people are actively influencing major industries.

The construction industry has also seen changes because of this. Managers and contractors have adhered to the needs of the end consumer and have started focusing on green construction. Green construction reduces waste and the use of resources, allows to have a healthier living environment for people and has a less damaging impact on the planet.

As the year 2018 approaches, we will see more need for green construction. The trend is going to force construction managers and contractors to change their business model and acquire relevant certification to be recognized as green. LEED certification is one of the labels that enable you to be recognized by various relevant parties as green contractors. More and more builders and contractors are using this global symbol of sustainability and are planning to acquire a LEED certification plaque.

8. Improved Labor

With technology comes the possibility that there will be a shortage of jobs in the construction industry. It is true that manual labor will be replaced by robots – which is what advancement is all about! But robots will create more job opportunities for many. There will be more intelligent labor in construction.

Construction will need knowledge workers and people with skills to create, operate and maintain the above mentioned technologies. The selection criteria for labor will focus on intelligent workers.

The current crisis that construction is facing is shortage of labor.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this year nearly 200,000 construction jobs were left unfilled in the States.

A need to robots to fill this gap is a crucial step towards increasing productivity in the industry. If the side effect is total replacement of workers with robots, then there are various other opportunities to utilize.

Therefore, we will see more need for improved labor in construction and there are plenty of smart people that will identify this trend and take advantage of it.

In short, 2018 holds…

A lot of excitement for the construction industry. From BIM to VR to Green Construction… we will see a lot of progress in all of these sectors. Lets keep a look out and see where the industry is next year.

Contact USModular, Inc. for information on building using modular construction in California!

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