The growth of new technology in construction

Editorial Type: Comment Date: 2021-02-05 Views: 139 Tags: Construction PDF Version:
Whilst we remain in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic, the new year is already witnessing a remarkable effort from scientists within the pharmaceutical industry to roll out a number of vaccines that are showing dramatic results from one of the early adopters, Israel, which will hopefully be replicated here in the UK.

Both countries have responded to the crisis by taking a chance and arranging vaccine orders from a number of suppliers, acting quickly to both certify and distribute them.

This good news is accompanied by figures that show that the construction industry is weathering the pandemic, with the shortfall in new construction projects over last year less than 5%. We are starting the new year with a much more positive outlook than we probably expected.

This is reflected in the stories that are gathering the most interest in the press, which are focusing on how a greater use of the latest technologies are bringing better efficiencies and improved working practices on the building site, and the use of smart technology to handle one of the most pressing issues of our time which, unfortunately, has taken a back seat during the year of Brexit and Covid-19, namely global warming.

Taking the second of these first, I asked Nathan Doughty, CEO of Asite, to expand on their recent report 'Smart Retrofitting: the Key to Decarbonising the Built Environment' in this issue of the magazine, as I felt it laid down some strategic routes for tackling a problem that was of critical global importance before the pandemic elbowed it aside. In the article Nathan points out the role that Digital Twins (the meme of the last couple of years) will play in building integrated models that can be used to aggregate and analyse data from multiple sources, and plan ameliorating tactics.

Technology is starting to make an impact on building processes both on building sites and infrastructure projects, and one of the most interesting areas is in the use of drone technology to enhance the capture of site data, which gives site operators faster and safer access to remote or difficult to reach sections of a project. Sitech's Ian Barnes provides us with an interesting overview on how drones are changing the construction industry, supported by a technical overview of Esri UK's partnership with drone experts Heliguy, which brings the GIS company's expertise in geophysical data collection and analysis to the construction site, supported by Heliguy's drone deployment skills - and offering training and support for any company wanting to 'take-off' with the technology.

Going further, we have included an article that explores how Buildots, winners of the 'One to Watch: Company' award at the Construction Computing Awards in November, has leveraged a basic technology using artificial intelligence algorithms to turn it into a comprehensive site monitoring and evaluation tool, linking digital images captured by helmet mounted 360 degree cameras with a site's 2D plans and 3D models, to check on construction progress and other site management issues.

Finally, IES describe how Heriot Watt University used their ICL Digital Twin suite to studies to calculate Energy, Carbon and cost savings on a sample of the Universities buildings.