What Can You Expect to See in the 21st Century Construction Trailer?
There is no doubt that the construction industry is making the shift toward digital. More and more companies are beginning to implement construction project management software, and the Internet of things and Virtual/Augmented reality continue to buzz around the construction-sphere.
As the construction industry continues to make a move toward digital, the question arises: What can you expect to see in the 21st-century construction trailer?
Smart vending machines
When you think of a vending machine, you probably think of purchasing a bag of chips or a can of soda. I would even venture to say that construction inventory storage and analytics is probably the last thing to come to mind. Despite its seemingly disproportionate relationship, smart-vending machines are making their way into construction jobsite trailers to store small items such as gloves, batteries, and earplugs, while automatically tracking these items for usage and location. For more expensive items, barcodes and RFID scanning are used to keep them stored and secure. This not only saves square footage in the trailer but also automates the tracking and security of inventory. This is extremely useful since the theft of construction materials is very prevalent, and 62% of materials stolen from construction jobsites are never recovered. New inventory technology can keep materials secure from theft and therefore avoid expenses and time delays associated with equipment theft.
Virtual reality as a communication tool
Virtual reality has yet to find a way to change the way that construction is done in the field. However, it can be used as a communication tool in the design phase and can connect contractors, field workers, and back-office personnel. An example of this is Turner Construction who is using virtual reality to connect people using avatars to bring them into the same virtual space with real-world dimensions. Turner believes that this will become a reality by the end of this year, allowing up to 15 people in different geographical locations to stay connected in a virtual world.
Virtual reality caves
A virtual reality cave is a fully immersible virtual reality experience in which the walls of a room are made up of VR. These are not yet prevalent on many job-site trailers but could become standard in construction trailers in the next coming years. Despite the early adopters of VR and various predictions of how it will affect the future of construction, VR is still in its growth stage and has yet to realize its full potential in the construction industry.
As the construction trailer begins to adapt to the digital age, each surface is becoming a digital touch screen. Construction trailers may no longer have regular tables, but rather, tables with digital surfaces that allow for interaction and collaboration at the jobsite. This also makes it easier for the project manager to explain something to a larger audience and allows the PM to give detailed presentations that are easier to communicate and to understand.
Why has the digital construction trailer not taken over yet?
Despite the potential for virtual reality in the construction industry, many companies are hesitant to adopt everything at once. This may be a smart move considering that there is still a significant portion of the construction labor force that is older and resists large technological changes. To not upset anyone, many companies are adopting one or two new technologies at a time to not shift the status quo too drastically for the people who would be upset by this. By slowly adopting these new technologies, they can demonstrate to these resistors how new technology can help them directly, causing them to be more receptive to technological adoptions in the future.