The global construction industry has been on an upswing and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.2% between 2018 and 2023 to reach USD $10.5 trillion (AUD $15.3 trillion) in value.
One of the drivers behind this growth is the use of technology throughout the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) fields to facilitate multiple processes that reduce costs and the time it takes to go from concept to completed build.
Everything from the ability to work remotely, move from 2D to 3D, and download construction plans on tablets instead of relying on paper, have been AEC technology solutions that have meant huge transformations in how professionals work and serve their clients.
Firms adopting and making the best use of new technology trends in the AEC industries are the ones that have the best chance of gaining a competitive advantage over their competition.
In the race to be “digitally advanced,” the winners can see multiple bottom-line benefits. In a study by Deloitte, it was found that Australian small and medium-sized businesses that reached advanced levels of digital engagement enjoyed the following advantages over their peers who only had a “basic” level.
- They are 1.5x more likely to have revenue growth
- They earn 1.4x more revenue per employee
- They are 14x more likely to be innovating
- They are 8x more likely to be creating jobs
What new trends are coming in 2020 that will help those in the AEC industries stay on top? Read on for a list of the technologies you need to explore this year.
Tech Trends Impacting AEC in 2020 and Beyond
Here are the biggest trends to watch and take advantage of in the architectural, engineering, and construction industries this year.
The concept of modularisation is like the overall technology trend of simplifying complex processes.
Modularisation reduces the complexity of a building process by deconstructing elements (like the IT applications, and interior structural components) into “modules” that can exist independently from each other and also “plug-in” to other modules so an entire building system can function as an integrated structure.
This makes it much easier and less expensive to expand buildings in the future without major changes needing to be made the existing building infrastructure.
- Digital Twins
As processing power has become more readily available and cloud systems have become more robust, it’s made it possible to replicate entire building IT systems in a virtual environment.
A digital twin mirrors a real-world building and allows real-time data from the integrated building intelligence systems to be analysed and suggested improvements tested out first virtually before being deployed in the real world, saving both time and money.
- Use of Drones
The emergence of drone technology has not only made it much easier to capture full site imagery for both inspection and marketing purposes, but it’s also improved safety.
Drones can capture data across a large location in a short period of time and fly over potentially hazardous zones for surveys rather than needing to send human surveyors to unsafe areas.
- 3D Modeling and Printing Technology
3D modeling and printing continue to expand at a rapid pace, making it easier and less expensive to create your own components and print out your own design.
This allows architects and engineers to create construction elements that may be unique to a building and be able to ensure a supply of those one-a-kind components thanks to the ability of 3D printers, which could actually print components onsite for near-instant availability.
- Lean Comes to Construction
Lean manufacturing has long gone from buzzword to company policy when it comes to manufacturing facilities, and now lean planning in construction is becoming a trend in the AEC industries.
Where sustainable building is focused on the operational efficiency of the building itself once it’s finished, lean building is focused on the efficiency of the design and construction process during the building phase.
Lean planning in construction includes streamlining internal scheduling, implementing virtual processes that reduce rework, and basically reducing the time and cost footprint of the construction process.
- Wearable Construction Technology
Wearables like the Apple Watch or Fitbit were our first introduction to wearable technology. With the advent of 5G and Wi-Fi 6, both increasing internet connection speeds significantly, watch for wearables to expand into the personal protective equipment (PPE) market.
Look for things like smart helmets that can sense rising levels of toxins in the air or smart safety glasses that can access site plans and overlay them over the real space. These types of technologies will allow for hands-free access to tech and can also further improve personnel safety.
- AI-Powered IoT Security
As more internet of things (IoT) devices are used both in the office and in the field, that leaves open more endpoints for hackers to exploit. No one wants their smart security camera to be feeding site information to a criminal.
Look for more AI-powered security solutions that use machine learning to look for unusual network behaviour to be deployed to ensure all those wearables, smart gadgets, and other IoT devices stay protected from breaches.
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