The construction industry is a broad category that employs several different types of workers. In addition to construction workers and managers, there are also architects, carpenters, electricians, engineers, plumbers, and welders who are also a part of this field.
Because this is such a broad industry, there have been many different advancements in technology that have greatly increased efficiency, productivity, and safety in the field. Here are four examples of technological innovations that have helped workers across all of these industries.
#1: 3D Printing
Although 3D printing isn’t new, it has improved over the years and has made a huge impact in the construction industry. It’s the process of creating or “printing” an object from a digital model that can be used as a functional piece.
The technique has long been used by architects and interior designers, but in recent years it has been seen more frequently on construction sites— especially in residential construction. Unfortunately, there are still some downsides to this technology, with one being that materials are often limited.
There’s also a restriction on the size of printable objects, though many companies are trying to overcome this barrier.
#2: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
Augmented reality is an interactive experience that combines the real world with an enhanced version of the real world. On the other hand, virtual reality isn’t real at all, although it can be based on the real world. Both AR and VR are used across a variety of industries, but most notably in the construction industry.
Augmented reality helps workers analyze their tasks to come up with better solutions to solve problems, while virtual reality is used to prevent problems and accidents from occurring by preparing workers before entering the field.
#3: Plastics Joining
When you think of joining objects together, you often think of welders welding pieces of metal or hard plastics together. While traditional forms of welding (hot plate welding, infrared welding, laser welding, over molding, spin welding, ultrasonic welding, and vibration welding) are used to join a variety of different materials, there are many other forms of plastics joining used in the automotive, construction, and engineering industries.
There’s also adhesive bonding, mechanical fastening, and thermoplastic staking. Although some of these methods are exclusively, or almost exclusively, used by one sector, you can find almost all methods used across the entire construction industry.
Construction and related fields are some of the most dangerous jobs, so safety is a huge concern in this industry. Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) has developed ways to ensure the safety of workers in the field. For construction workers, one of the biggest safety risks is falling from a height, and AI has allowed for the development of wearables that can detect when a worker is too close to the edge of a building.
There are also wearables that keep track of workers’ heart rate and other vital signs that monitor them for exhaustion. Other types of wearables include:
- Smart helmets that can alert others when a worker is in distress and needs immediate attention
- Smart boots that can monitor falls and exhausted workers
- Exosuits that aid workers in lifting heavy objects
These smart wearables and devices worn in addition to workers’ typical personal protective equipment (i.e., safety glasses, gloves, earplugs, etc.) make it safer for these workers to work in the naturally harsh conditions that are typical for these types of jobs.
All of these technologies can be (and have been) applied to many different industries that don’t necessarily relate to construction. One of the most notable is the military, where they see a lot of this technology before civilians. The goal is to not only increase the productivity and efficiency of the workers, but to also provide a safer work environment, since injury and death are particularly higher in these fields.