How embracing technology can help to improve our construction workflow

Here Simon Crowhen, National Sales Manager at Topcon GB, looks at the challenges facing the construction industry and the latest technologies which can help the industry to work smarter.

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ecently, the Local Government Association said that if the ‘sluggish rate’ of house-building continues then every new home would need to last for 2000 years to house everyone in the country1. Pair this with the necessity for smarter roads and there’s a need to work more efficiently.

However, traditional methods of construction alone are simply not enough to keep up with the demand. Bringing awareness to the ways technology can benefit the industry will help to continue widespread adoption, and drive the industry forward to meet these challenges.

UAVs

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are one example of advanced technology that brings a number of benefits to construction projects, enhancing the data collection process by quickly providing a complete visual data capture of an area. For example, a fixed-wing UAV system, like the Sirius Pro, can cover up to 1km2 in an hour – something that could take up to two days using traditional surveying techniques.

The rich data makes it possible to assess real-time conditions on a site, monitor the construction process and carry out structural assessments and record as-built progress. Effectively, the UAV can be used from the start to the end of the construction cycle: whether it’s helping to support engineers and the design team in the initial stages, or bring survey-grade data to inspections.

Augmented reality

Recently, a £1m research grant was awarded to app developer Soluis to advance the use of augmented and virtual reality in the construction sector. The aim is to create a system that uses high-tech goggles, alongside Building Information Modelling (BIM), to reduce costs and waste by 25% and increase productivity by 30%2.

Machine control

20% of construction expense can be avoided, whether it’s due to unnecessary mistakes, ineffective planning, excess materials or poor communication. However, many companies are looking at implementing new technology to create more sophisticated ways of working to help reduce wastage.

One example of this is machine control, where GPS data and 3D models help contractors to dig earthworks more accurately. The 3D model communicates to a system in the cab via satellite positioning data and gives an accurate view of the machine’s current position compared to the desired result. As a result, operators can make decisions based on very specific data, as opposed to relying on human judgement alone.

Communication between field and office

Software programmes like MAGNET Enterprise and Sitelink are helping to improve efficiency across the workflow by increasing communication between the office and the field. Implementing the latest software into traditional construction workflows can help teams track assets on larger sites, like machinery, and allow each team member to communicate and share data, even while on the move. Being able to securely access project data from any web browser or device means that projects can be overseen in real-time and changes can be made instantly. Therefore, the process from design to site is made simpler and more efficient for all involved.

Modern methods of construction

Technology is constantly evolving and adoption across the industry is showing no signs of slowing. Keeping up to date with the latest developments can help those in the industry to work in new ways to meet current demands. By looking at how these different types of technology can be integrated into more traditional approaches, we can help to address the challenges currently faced on construction sites across the country.

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