Adobe Stock / Sergey Nivens
Adobe Stock / Sergey Nivens

The construction industry is usually hesitant to adopt dramatic changes and is a slow adopter of new practices. The industry is particularly lagging behind in the adoption of digital work practices. Despite the hesitance, advanced technology can help improve quality while achieving on-time, on-budget projects. The Engineering News-Record highlights key areas technology could be leveraged to transform the construction industry. While several applications are more catered to the commercial sector, some bear fruit in residential construction.

In order to be useful, data needs to be analyzed in real-time, in the context of construction or fabrication operations, to make it usable. Creating dynamic digital models of equipment and processes allows not only monitoring but, with artificial intelligence-based software, can also be used for predictive analytics. Does the speed and location of moving forklifts indicate an imminent collision? Is the vibration in a pipe-cutting machine excessive over a period of time such that it requires maintenance? Does moving equipment or tanks that supply oxygen or other gases require refueling, to avoid job disruption?

By digitizing and modelling equipment and processes—a fabrication process with multiple steps—project owners and stakeholders gain real-time visibility on their projects. In contrast to manual data collection and processes often utilized today, digital construction prevents unplanned downtime, improves equipment productivity, allocation and health.

Digital construction can reduce project disruptions by increasing equipment uptime, quickly locating movable equipment, reducing idle time and decreasing unplanned downtime through predictive maintenance. It can reduce costs through predicting and leasing only the equipment required, reduce manual inaccuracies through automation, predict fuel or other consumables needs to decrease last minute ordering and surcharges and improve supply chain logistics. It can enhance worker safety and health through improved environmental monitoring.

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