By Scott Moss, Moss & Associates, September 16, 2015
Technology continues to revolutionize and disrupt every aspect of every industry.
While we’re more likely to hear or read about tech advancements in certain industries, there are significant innovations in the construction industry that are forging new and enhanced methods to construct next-generation buildings and facilities. Here we review a few emerging areas:
Drones include a high-tech camera, GPS, laser scanner and software to complete an environmental survey. For flight control, they also include a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope. With the information collected, surveyors and engineers have the ability to quickly measure the Earth and other essential data to further improve the construction schedule and overall process. One of the major benefits of drones is that they can scan wide stretches of terrain quickly and fly at very high speeds, while at the same time collect accurate scans. Although the benefits seem exciting, there are concerns dealing with federal airspace and safety, as well as homeland security and privacy. With ongoing collaboration to solve these issues, look for drone surveying to become a more integral part of the construction industry’s scope of work.
Business Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM is the ability to plan, design and construct virtually. This process includes digital and 3-D representations with software that can quickly identify issues and conflicts prior to construction. As noted in our previous article, “Virtual design and construction now allows project teams to build a structure twice – once virtually and once physically. Design activities have been horizontally integrated across disciplines while construction activities have been integrated vertically through distinct supply chain stages. The demonstrated results have been savings in cost and schedule accompanied by enhanced project quality and improved project safety.”
Prefabricated and Modular Construction, including 3-D Printing
With this industry trend, modular units are prefabricated and built off-site. The modules are then transported and assembled on-site. This enables fabrication in a code compliant factory controlled environment and improves the construction schedule. By building modules in a factory, this further reduces downtime due to weather or other building logistics. 3-D printing enables further enhancements either on-site or off-site. In leveraging 3-D printing specifically for concrete, structures can be designed precisely to revolutionize architecture, including structural elements of the building. In many cases, this could reduce the time to produce specifically designed components from weeks to hours. In the future, 3-D printing has the potential to build an entire house and the concept currently is being introduced in China.
This is an exciting, technology-driven era for the construction industry. As tech-based innovations continue to evolve and mature, they will provide significant benefits for businesses that are building in Florida: faster surveying, better architecture design, more seamless building, and reduced cost and time to build.
As we build it, technology has come … to the forefront.
About the Author
Scott Moss is the president of Moss & Associates and was the firm’s first employee. Moss is a graduate of the University of Florida, past chair of the Associated Builders and Contractors – Florida East Coast Chapter and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, a global network of young chief executives with approximately 22,000 members in more than 125 countries.