As technology progresses, industries progress with it, and our industry is no exception. Change is afoot; construction companies, civil plant operators and technology companies are starting to analyse the industry as a whole and find ways to improve productivity. Here are our top 5 emerging technologies to keep an eye on.
In simple terms, automation considers computer-aided engineering and design, computerised databases, feedback as-built data, automated materials handling, artificial intelligence and robotics. The driving force in automation is the safety benefits.
Operating large machinery is an arduous task. In mining for example, driving haulage trucks require drivers to be alert for a long periods of time, which holds increased safety requirements as drivers can be prone to fatigue.
As machines don’t get sick or fatigued, they can be utilised even further than human workers in the field. But do these machines operate by themselves? Not entirely (...yet). A team of skilled workers will be operating these machines from a control centre off site. There will also be a group of workers supervising the operations on-site.
Likewise, in construction, automated robots have become a more significant mechanism to speed up the production process.
Construction Robotics, a US-based company has designed a robot called Semi-Automated Mason (SAM) or robot bricklayer that's designed to work with the mason, assisting with the repetitive and strenuous task of lifting and placing each brick. Other companies like Husqvarna have developed robots that can crush, cut and drill.
Robotics helps overcome challenges that companies and individuals face, particularly with labour intensive tasks. Not only can robotics help speed up the production process, it also helps worksites become a much safer environment as it reduces injuries, stress and other health problems brought on by strenuous tasks.
Prefabrication continues to be rapidly implemented across the world. This process is efficient, significantly speeding up the construction of major projects by making parts of a structure in a factory and then assembling them on the construction site afterwards. Just take a look at this building in China, erected in 19 days...
To help rapidly capture sites and provide clarity to the building process, drones are promising to transform the industry. These immediate insights can help decision makers create policies when it comes to the job site and safety.
For example, having a better visualisation of the placement of materials on-site will help in deciding safety regulations to be set for the site and workers alike. High resolution videos and photos of the construction and mining sites taken by the drones can be made into 3D renders, which in turn can be made as a record of the sites’ work progress.
5. Augmented reality / Wearable technology
There has also been substantial interest in augmented reality and wearable technology across both industries. Companies such as Daqri are developing an industrial grade hard hat, the Daqri Smart Helmet, that enable workers to access intelligent data in the field. 'This level of technology is helping bridge the gap between potential and experience, enhancing human abilities in industry by connecting workers with their environment and providing relevant information instantaneously.
Quantum leaps have been made to advance technology and it's only going to improve over the years. Keeping up with new technologies to help streamline processes, increase efficiencies, and reduce man-hours is one of the simplest ways to get a competitive advantage in today's economy, regardless of industry.
If you've come across any other technology shakers in the industry, be sure to mention them in to comments below.