In an increasingly digital world, smart technology is rapidly changing the face of commercial construction. Gaining a competitive edge, securing more contracts, and boosting profitability; these are just some of the goals that contractors seek when incorporating technological innovations. Companies looking to revolutionize their business model, are taking a closer look at the following trends in the commercial construction industry.

Energy Efficiency

Harnessing energy is vital for new construction as well as the renovation of older buildings. EcoMetrics is a tool that compares and measures various energy- saving measures used in construction projects. The data collected helps in creating future projects.

The professionals at Diamond Schmitt Architects (DSA) used ecoMetrics while designing the Environmental Science and Chemistry Building at the University of Toronto Scarborough. This significantly reduced the cost of constructing a zero- energy, or low- energy consuming building. In the words of Michal Szabo, Principal, DSA,

“With ecoMetrics we are not only gaining a better understanding of energy use across different building types conveyed in simple-to-understand graphics, but also are driving innovation in sustainable design with this knowledge.”

Worker Safety

According to the United States Department of Labor, 4,836 workers were killed on the job in 2015. That amounts to more than 13 deaths every day. The commercial industry is looking toward enhancing worker safety in terms of airborne contaminants, safety hazards, medical assistance, and better surveillance.

Invented by USA based Dagri, Smart Helmet uses 4D augmented reality to provide workers with hands- free visual instructions concerning tasks and identifying potential hazards. The helmet consists of a transparent visor and special lenses for a heads-up display, as well as cameras and sensors that help workers navigate safely about their environment.

Project Management

Currently, construction companies take aerial photos of their sites using rovers or by having workers climb up tall structures. However, this method is slow, inefficient and hazardous.

Equipment manufacturing giant, John Deere is partnering with startup Kespry, a drone company targeting the construction industry. Drones are fast and can take pictures while flying over construction sites, which helps workers to monitor progress, material stocks, and consignments. John Deere aims to introduce drone services into its network of more than 400 American and Canadian dealers.

Communication

Effective communication is crucial to the success of any construction project. Gone are the days of faxing, printing and copying. With the invention of the cloud, data can be shared instantaneously, securely and fast.

eSUB Construction Software (eSUB) is the leading provider of mobile and cloud platforms in project management and document control solutions for subcontractors. The software streamlines communication and documentation through automated project tasks and real- time information, thus increasing project efficiency and accountability.

3D printing

Dubai 3D Printing Strategy aims to make Dubai a global capital for 3D printing technologies by 2025. Based on this, the value of the construction sector in Dubai is expected to be around Dh 3 billion by 2025. The main advantages of 3D printing are reduced material wastage and low project costs. When there is a need for a new machinery part or a replacement, a 3D printer will deliver the required piece immediately. Not only is this cost- effective, it saves precious time from placing orders.

Last year, Dubai unveiled the Museum of the Future, the world’s first 3D printed office building. It took a total of 17 days to print the building at a cost of $140,000, saving almost 50% on labor costs.

Enhanced Construction Vehicles and Equipment

The global construction equipment market is assessed with variables such as market value, volume, global demand, and regional market share. Major factors like greater government investments in infrastructural projects and increasing mining activities are driving the market. But the future holds challenges in terms of price unpredictability of raw materials, economic uncertainty, enforcement of emission control laws, and diverse customer demands.

Recent innovations recognize the profitability of the construction equipment market. Leading manufacturers like Komatsu and Volvo CE are pioneers in the field of autonomous, semi- autonomous, and remote- controlled heavy equipment like excavators and bulldozers. From the handling of raw materials to the laying of building groundwork, no construction site is complete without heavy machinery.

The future of construction technology holds great promise for the commercial construction industry globally. As summarized by Dominic Thasarathar, a Construction Industry Strategist at Autodesk,

“We’re also starting to see early examples of data mining, big data and predictive analytics open up in construction now, that are really helping to deliver those steep changes in productivity, waste reduction, and the acceleration of schedules.”