Construction has always been closely intertwined with every stage of human development. The structures we live, work and play in — as well as the way we design and build them — constantly evolve over time.
The 20th century brought the information age and the start of the digital revolution, with computers, robotics, and 3D Printing becoming more commonplace. Like the construction industry, businesses worldwide began adopting and customizing these new technologies to remain competitive.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) goes hand in hand with computers and is, what I consider, the baseline for future construction innovations. Almost every large-scale construction project here in the US and around the world utilizes 3D BIM Modeling for planning and coordination.
Currently, JM Electrical is involved in multiple projects utilizing BIM. We’ve found it particularly useful for preconstruction planning, prefabrication, and installation. While the model itself is typically viewed from a computer or iPad, recent developments in Virtual/Augmented Reality could prove extremely useful. Imagine putting on a pair of VR Goggles and walking around a “finished” building like you are in a video game! This tool can make tasks like inspections much easier and add an “excitement” factor when clients tour a site.
One company, Matterport, has recognized the importance of 3D Building models and has developed a process to scan existing physical buildings/interior homes and transform them into a “walkable” 3D models. We recently looked at a project that included a Matterport Model which we found extremely helpful in bidding the project.
Robotic technology can take on dangerous and mundane tasks which would otherwise be performed by a human. This evolving technology is now used in many new ways. For example, Hilti has come out with a new job site drilling robot called “Jaibot.” Working with digital plans, Jaibot can automatically core all holes accurately and efficiently. “Hadrian X,” is a brick-laying robot that builds block structures from a 3D CAD model. Basically, “Hadrian X” is a giant robotic arm that places blocks for any structure from the ground up.
3D Printing is another relatively new and quickly evolving technology being adopted by the construction industry. Rather than plastics and other materials, 3D Printers for buildings use concrete or cement to extrude walls and structures. Further, this technology will help create multi-dimensional building models for testing and preliminary reviews. Another interesting company to follow is ICON; initially ICON “printed” homes in Texas but have taken this versatile technology to the next level, currently simulating producing 3D Printed homes on Mars.
By quickly adopting new technologies, the construction industry will continue to reinvent itself while improving processes and reducing costs, providing our teams with opportunities for professional development by utilizing the safest processes as well as sustainable products and materials.
By: Kyle Gillis, Assistant Project Manager at JM Electrical Co.