Doka UK, 22 April 2020.- Many construction companies in the UK and around the world are investing in new technologies. Some of these include Building Information Modelling (BIM), Augmented Reality and various other cloud-based services. Over the past decade, we have seen the industry adapt to new technologies with a few of the benefits including increased productivity, higher levels of safety, the ability to attract new customers and also the best talent into the industry. With these technological trends set to shape the construction industry throughout the next decade, we take a closer look at this topic.
Construction & Product Management Software
It is no secret that the construction industry has a reputation of being slower in comparison to other industries to jump into automation or digital technology; however, these opportunities offer some interesting opportunities for the industry to adopt. Construction project management software is getting increasingly more advanced and easy to integrate onto job sites. Many project management solutions are bundling scheduling, project management, and timekeeping in order to better serve construction companies.
To support contractors in this emerging field, Doka offer the myDoka system, which helps contractors to control and monitor Doka product usage, transport and invoices on site via an online portal. Just some of benefits include straightforward re-ordering of rental or purchased products with accessible lists of material already on site. Users are also able to control and delegate access to project data with defined user groups, which helps improve productivity on site.
Building Information Modeling
Building Information Modelling, or BIM for short, is a process of creating and managing information on a construction project from cradle to grave. This intelligent 3D model-based process has already seen wide adoption by architects, engineers, and other construction professionals.
In fact, many local authorities have made BIM the standard for many of its construction project needs. BIM allows stakeholders and suppliers to more efficiently plan, design construct and manage a building and its infrastructure.
As other technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, become more popular, their integration with BIM will become ever more important.
Doka work alongside customers to develop BIM for their projects. One example of how BIM has been used throughout the Doka Group is for the project “Gelbe Haide”, Austria, in which BIM specialists created a virtual model based on building information modelling (BIM) for the construction of a reservoir in Vienna’s 23rd district so that wall formwork and cycle times could be planned precisely. This reduced the on-site work and resources required by construction company HABAU. Each worker’s formwork productivity doubled, with one casting section completed every three days.
Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR)
These technologies are already making a huge impact on many industries around the world, and the construction industry is no exception. Buildings are becoming ever more complicated, and these pre-build design or in-situ survey technologies are helping architects, construction and maintenance teams improve designs and detect errors at an earlier stage.
This could range from clashes in building processes, errors in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system design or finding missing elements overlooked during the design phase. AR, VR, and MR are also being utilised in the construction industry which are helping to aid the following:
- 3D modeling of buildings and structures.
- Help to improve and innovate BIM visualisation.
- To allow clients to explore designs before construction.
- Helping “see through walls” for maintenance workers and service engineers.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are now combined in one Doka App (AR-VR). With the App you have the ability to look at various formwork models via Augmented Reality and get an exciting insight into the world of formwork technology. You can use the App to project Doka drawings onto the printed plans right through to dropping 3D models into their environment or immersing yourself in the Doka designs through virtual reality. The app also has functions for displaying 3D views of the model and a QR code reader. You can use individual 3D models to hide or show components or view an animated construction sequence.
Productivity and ‘As-Built’ Measurement Systems
Along with the countless technological advances being made, construction productivity and accuracy tools are another trend that is sure to carry throughout the next decade and beyond. Companies are finding the benefit of measurement sensor technology in a variety of products and systems from excavators and pressure control systems to formwork placement and concrete curing measurement methods.
The benefits are numerous, but the key objectives are to control and improve processes, improve accuracy, productivity, reduce costs and record ‘as-built’ information amongst others.
Doka have invested heavily in this particular area of development over recent years with the advance of a tool for monitoring in-situ ‘as-built’ concrete maturity called Concremote. The system enables contractors to see how the concrete is curing in real time and can inform when to strike the formwork, control the temperature delta in mass-concrete structures or indeed gain a better chance to produce a uniform colour finish on fair faced concrete structures.
Doka in the UK are also currently trailing the new DokaXact, the digital formwork positioning system for building vertical structures more accurately and thus reducing requirements for surveying and making-good after the pour.
Doka Contakt is a further new development, which uses sensor technology developed in-house to transmit real-time data from jobsites. This enables workflow analysis and the optimisation and scheduling of construction processes, materials and personnel required. Reporting of actual performance can then take place against the planned output to understand the execution variance, and improvements can be implemented. Construction firms benefit from more transparency and can improve their workflows and competitiveness based on field data.
3D technology has been used in the field of formwork for a long time. Initially, it was confined to the virtual world of computing, where it was used for three-dimensional formwork design. However, nowadays it is being used more and more on the construction site itself, sometimes in the form of formwork parts produced by 3D printers, sometimes even entire building elements manufactured additively. Doka and its parent company, the Umdasch Group, have embraced these new technologies by investing in innovative solutions such as Contour Crafting who produce 3D printed concrete structures.
Another construction industry trend that will continue into 20’s is the standards and use of more advanced safety equipment products.
More new technologies are entering the industry than ever before. For example, there are work boots that can connect to Wi-Fi, send GPS coordinates, and can even tell if users have fallen or are tired. While these smart boots may be hard to get now, they could eventually be a commonplace PPE on the job site. There are also more plausible technologies being implemented, such as the use of moisture-wicking fabric and cooling vests. These are just a few of many new equipment advancements that will help keep more of the workers safe on a site and bring about a new era in construction safety.
Doka brings a professional approach to safety that runs all the way from product development to safety consulting, and to its range of safety products and services. The FreeFalcon is an excellent example of how safety equipment can help improve safety on construction sites. In this case, the FreeFalcon offers an innovative way for contractors to handle safety where collective protection at drop-off edges on construction sites is not possible. The fall arrest system is a new addition to Doka’s existing range of safety systems and offers customers the option to rent or purchase.
The 20’s may also be the year where robotics makes a bigger impact in the construction industry. Somewhat linked to the impact of 3D printing above, robotics is also seeing impressive growth in the industry.
In fact, one report by the World Economic Forum predicted that 2020 could be the year of the robot in the construction industry. From robotic bricklayers to laying roads, robots are increasingly finding their place amongst the workforce on construction sites.
This is interesting as traditionally the construction industry has seen very little automation, relying largely on manual labour. By adding robots to the workforce, construction companies are seeing improved construction times and consistency of builds.
Robots are also being used to help demolish buildings too. While currently slower than human demolition crews, they are far safer and cheaper for bringing down concrete structures at the end use.
For several decades now, building regulations have been placing more controls on building design in an attempt to reduce their environmental impact and improve sustainability. This is trend will continue to develop heading into 2020 and beyond as predicting the likely environmental performance of a development during the design phase is becoming more important as regulations become increasing strict.
Optimised energy efficiency and a drive for low to zero carbon emissions have driven innovation in building construction and service design for years. In response, new, better thermal performance materials are being developed that promise to make the buildings of the future incredibly well insulated for a fraction of the cost of current solutions.
Another tech trend to look out for is the use of exoskeletons. The potential benefits this can afford to a construction site’s workforce are obvious.
Users can carry greater loads, more safely than their bodies would normally be able to cope with, and if it is widely adopted, it would largely increase the safety of construction sites. For construction companies, this will dramatically improve their productivity by reducing the number of individuals required on-site as well as reduce lost man-hours from injury.
“ABI Research predicts the robotic exoskeleton market alone will reach $1.8 billion in 2025, up from $68 million in 2014. This year, about 6,000 suits will be sold, mainly for rehabilitation. By 2025, ABI expects to see about 2.6 million on the market.” – Constructible.
But they may ultimately lose out to robots and 3D printing alternatives as exoskeletons still rely on a human operator at their heart. That being said, they might offer the perfect compromise.
- World Economic Forum