Construction Technology Trends In 2021

Construction Technology Trends In 2021

Last year, the world was faced with the emerging coronavirus pandemic and a very uncertain future. This had a large impact on many sectors in the construction and development industry as offices had to temporarily close and more people worked from home than ever before. As countries increased their vaccination efforts and the world began to reopen their doors, the entire industry started to rethink about how they approached construction and development. Many new and existing technologies started to emerge in the wake of the pandemic, much of which have become permanently adopted by a lot of businesses. In this article, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the emerging, revolutionary technology trends that have shaped the construction industry forever.

Emerging Construction Technology Trends For 2021

We discuss five new technology trends that are coming into the forefront of the construction industry in 2021, including building information modeling, digital twins, 3D construction printing, virtual and augmented reality, and prefabricated construction.

Building Information Technology (BIM)Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling or BIM is the creation and management of digital representations of physical and functional aspects of a building or structure. The purpose of BIM is to enable full collaboration between engineers, architects, builders, clients, stakeholders and more by providing a centralized database and allowing everyone to work on one shared model. It generally starts with 3D modelling of the structure with additional data added during the life cycle of the project.

BIM is particularly useful in the planning and coordination of the construction process. For example, it can help estimators generate the exact quantity of the materials, which can be handed off to engineers, builders, and project managers. It can also give detailed information to prefabricators who are designing key components of a project. If there are any design or structural problems, architects and engineers should be able to point it out and offer solutions.

BIM can help uncover clash detection and assist with problem solving in way that 2D drawings never could. This complete collaboration using 3D modelling improves coordination, efficiency, and ultimately saves time and money. BIM allows everyone to be on the same page and, as this technology advances, it’s only speculated to become even more of a time saving and cost effective tool.

Digital TwinsDigital Twins

Similar to BIM, digital twins is the process of creating a complete virtual model of the building using sensors, robots, drones, and IoT (Internet of Things) technology that collects data on a finished building or a building under construction – or in other words making a “digital twin” of the entire project. Originally used by NASA for modelling of their spacecrafts in 2010, digital twins or “twinning” have found a number of practical applications for the manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, and, of course, construction industry. Despite being a relatively new technology, it has garnered a lot of traction due to the pandemic.

Data that is taken from the building or structure is combined with artificial intelligence software and complex analytics to create a virtual model, which is constantly learning and updating the real building. This provides builders, project managers, and stakeholders a clear picture on the building’s performance, schedule, and operations both during the construction and after the project is complete.

This offers a ton of benefits to a development project. As digital twins provide real time data on a projects performance, it can allow for testing and computer simulations before resources or capital is spent on any new construction. It also keeps stakeholders and project managers in the loop with accurate reporting and puts a stop to frequent construction site visits, which was extremely helpful during the early days of the pandemic. Digital twins also allows facility managers to optimize building system controls, lighting, temperature and so on after the building is complete.

3D Construction Printing3D Construction Printing

3D construction printing, or additive manufacturing, is a relatively new building practise of fabricating complete buildings or construction components using a 3D printer. 3D construction printers can be used to print the entire building or just the prefabricated sections of a project. It is an extremely efficient and automated approach to construction, with many projects being fabricated with pin-point precision and accuracy. It works in conjunction with advance computer software to essentially “print” superfine layer upon layer of advanced construction material until either the entire structure or portion of a structure is complete.

One of the best things about 3D construction printing is that it’s a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional building methods. We spoke before about the eco-friendly alternatives to concrete, and 3D construction printing has been found to be another excellent example of how to decrease carbon emissions. Ultimately, 3D printing can limit construction waste and the transport costs of materials, which has a huge impact on reducing the carbon footprint associated with construction. Likewise, buildings and structures can be created using renewable and sustainable materials.

3D construction printing is extremely automated, accurate, and requires fewer labor resources than traditional building methods. Not only does this lesson the amount of people that needs to be apart of the fabrication process, which helps with social distancing, but it also lessons human errors and improves productivity. As the world becomes more and more automated and with an increase want for eco-friendly solutions, we can only see the trend of 3D construction printing increasing.

Virtual & Augmented RealityVirtual & Augmented Reality

This may seem like something out of science fiction, but the truth is the technology for virtual and augmented reality has actually been around for a considerable amount of time and has been considered a potential game changer for whole construction industry. In particular, there are two types of simulated and interactive technologies used in construction today. Virtual reality (VR) is the complete immersion into a simulated environment where the real world is shut out. With regards to construction, this could mean a virtual tour of a construction site or building model. Augmented reality (AR) refers to overlaying the real world with digital elements. This may be used to draw attention to specific areas of a construction site to provide more interactive, in-depth detail.

For VR/AR technologies to work, they would first have to be paired with BIM technology to allow for immersion and/or interaction with either the complete building or certain sections of a structure. After which the possibilities are endless! Virtual reality can be used for “walkthroughs” of what a completed project would look like. It can also be used by contractors and project managers to point out any potential problems, challenges, risk assessment, and safety improvements. This can go hand-in-hand with implementing training in safety, equipment, and building systems installations before work is carried out.

Augmented reality technology, though still not widely implemented, can allow workers to call upon things like construction information, checklists, or project documents in next to no time while they work. Thanks to interactive safety googles or glasses, stake holders, architects, contractors, engineers, and project managers can arrive on site and receive an interactive view of the building or structure as it’s actually being built. This can help with identifying problems, clashes, safety concerns, design flaws, or improvements.

Perhaps what is most important about VR/AR is that the technology can allow for complete collaboration between construction workers, managers, architects, and stake holders in much the same way BIM technology can. It can improve safety, scheduling, and ultimately save a lot of money in the long run. Likewise, VR/AR means that stakeholders don’t allows have to be onsite to receive real time information on a development project. As this technology becomes more and more advance and widely applicable, it easy to imagine this trend will continue throughout 2021 and beyond.

Prefabricated ConstructionPrefabricated Construction

Prefabricated construction isn’t anything new in this industry, but has become a lot more prevalent due to the effects of the pandemic. Accordingly, at least 78% of commercial construction in the United States used some form of prefabrication in 2020. Usually offsite construction comes in two forms, being either prefabricated construction where building components are built offsite then assembled onsite, or modular construction where entire rooms or sections of a building can be built with everything needed for installation.

For the past two years, not only has prefabrication and modular construction helped with keeping people socially distant but also with completing projects quicker. Each component or section that is constructed offsite is usually built with all the correct tools and to an extremely high standard. As many prefabricators use factories, it also means that key components or entire sections are not subject to poor weather conditions which can delay the building process even further. Prefabrication also makes the entire construction safer, efficient, and requiring less onsite workers.

The Well Ariel View Construction Solutions With Knightsbridge Development Corporation

As you have read, there have been a ton of technological advances in the construction industry over the past few years. Though many of these trends are in no way new, they have come to the forefront in 2020 and 2021 thanks in part to the pandemic where maintaining social distancing measures was of the utmost import. Many of these advancements have become game changes for the entire construction and development industry, and it’s important to remember that even in spite of the pandemic they’re not going a way any time soon.

At Knightsbridge Development Corporation we offer solutions in construction, development, and project management that embraces innovation and technological advances within the industry. Many of the trends discussed in this article help make construction sites more productive, safer, efficient, and cost effective with less of an impact on the environment – all principals that we stand by as apart of our mission statement. If you would like to learn more about our company or discuss a new development project, then be sure to contact one of our offices today: