There are some very interesting and impactful technologies being developed and implemented in the construction industry; the exact impact they’ll make with everyday construction projects is yet to be fully understood. The many variables involved with predicting the future of the construction industry make it hard for contractors to know what technology trends to focus on.

3D Printing and Planning for the Future

From labor shortages to political initiatives, the construction industry is being asked to adapt to the changing times. Although advances in technology have always been integral in the progress of construction, it’s never been as severe as it is today.

For instance, the trend of 3D printing becoming a viable way to construct large-scale projects is making contractors wonder what the future of construction will really look like. Developments with 3D printing are, especially, speeding up in Asia and Europe, as we learn from an article found on Construction Global called: “Innovate to Survive: The Value of New Technology in Construction”, written on June 2, 2018 by Paul Becker, which explains:

“A company in China has already managed to ‘print’ 10 houses in under 24 hours and then followed up this with the world’s tallest 3D printed building – a five-story apartment block…These initial examples give us a glimpse of what the future will hold when it comes to leveraging technological advances in the pursuit of greater efficiency and ingenuity in construction.”

3D printing may be a viable option for mega companies, yet for most construction companies it’s more viable as a solution to build mini-structures for clients to view or for building parts of a project off-site; yet, smaller companies may still wonder how quickly advances with this robotic technology will come and how it’ll impact their business. Will 3D printing advance enough in the next decade to replace most human labor? And, what does this mean for their current investment strategy concerning technology?

An article found on called: “3D Printing and Construction: What You Need to Know”, written on March 15th, 2018 by Andreas Rivera, helps us answer these questions:

“The 3D printing construction industry is still in its infancy, so as of 2017, don’t expect 3D-printed high rise-condos to begin sprouting up overnight. This construction method still has some developments to undergo before it meets strenuous building codes, which themselves vary from region to region.”

This sentiment seems valid, especially, in countries like the U.S. with more building code requirements, yet as seen in the aforementioned article, in places like China, 3D printing has already built a 5-story apartment complex, so are high rises condos that far off?

The underlying concept of 3D printing is the use of robotics in the construction industry, which more than any other technology trend threatens to disrupt the industry. While robotics may be a solution to fill labor shortages if used to replace human labor on a massive scale, what would this mean for the industry?

One industry expert answers this question in the Construction Global article mentioned above, specifically in the executive summary of Balfour Beatty’s industry report called: “Innovation 2050 – A Digital Future for the Infrastructure Industry”, as he’s quoted saying:

“The construction site of 2050 will be human-free. Robots will work in teams to build complex structures using dynamic new materials. Elements of the build will self-assemble. Drones flying overhead will scan the site constantly, inspecting the work and using the data collected to predict and solve problems before they arise…The roles of the human overseer will be to remotely manage multiple projects simultaneously, accessing 3D and 4D visuals and data from the on-site machines…”

Gaining the Right Perspective

While technological advances like 3D printing are sure to impact the construction industry in the future, contractors should focus on smaller scale solutions like more efficient software, use of drones, and mobile integration. These types of technology trends are viable ways for contractors to cut costs and streamline processes now.

Although some industry experts may foresee a future where construction projects are completed without human labor, this isn’t an ironclad conclusion; regardless, human labor and skill is still needed now and in the foreseeable future, which means contractors should focus on technology that supports and streamlines current methods.

Sage 100 Contractor software is the type of technology solution contractors need to focus on, in order to: streamline everyday processes, cut costs, and remain flexible for future growth in a rapidly advancing technological world. If interested in learning more about technology trends and how we can help, please contact us today.