We love to talk construction tech, so when Holly Welles approached us about a potential collaboration regarding the topic, we jumped at the chance. Below is a guest post by Holly, a real estate and construction writer that connects the dots between technology and business.
The construction industry hasn't changed much in the last few centuries. Yes, workers can use power tools instead of hand tools, and heavy equipment takes the place of teams of workers hauling heavy blocks, but technology has advanced dramatically since great wonders like the Egyptian pyramids and even the Empire State Building were constructed. How can construction managers and business people help bring more technology into the construction workforce?
Utilizing Drones for Construction Work
Drones are popular toys, but that isn't all they're good for. There are many applications for drones on a construction site that include but are not limited to:
- Safety: Drones allow managers to easily inspect areas that would be unsafe to traverse alone. They can also be used to ensure that workers are wearing the appropriate safety equipment, and they can allow managers to quickly and safely identify potential safety hazards.
- Video and photography: For clients that request photo updates, drones can be invaluable tools. A camera attached to a drone can be used to take high-resolution video and photos that can easily be sent to a client.
- Creating 3D models: 3D models can be useful tools both before the job begins and while it's in progress, and drones can scan and generate 3D models of the job site. Before the job starts, these models allow construction teams to assess obstacles and create a plan to handle them rather than addressing them once the job has begun.
The listed functionalities are just a few examples of possible drone applications on a construction site. These little drones can, with enough lifting power, even be used to deliver parts or tools to workers doing their jobs far above the ground.
Improved Communication Between Workers
Communication on a construction site between workers and construction managers is vital to keeping the work moving smoothly. If there's a problem with a vendor or subcontractor or an injury on the worksite that must be addressed, smooth communication lines will allow the crew to solve these problems quickly.
Technology can help to create a smooth line of communication between crew and management. Walkie-talkies and headsets can work in a pinch, but direct communication tools like apps, instant messengers and similar technology can improve the communication and help crews resolve problems on-site in a timelier manner.
These tools can also help managers set up clear lines of communication. Specific problems should have a primary and secondary contact person so that if the first person in line isn't available, the problem doesn't need to sit in the queue until they can address it.
Uses for Augmented Reality
Augmented and virtual reality are usually associated with video games, but they can be useful tools in the construction industry as well. Virtual reality can be used for training, teaching workers everything from safety protocols to how to safely and correctly use the heavy equipment on a job site. Remember, however, that it can't be applied on the job site — virtual reality might be useful, but it requires a headset and visor to be functional.
That's where augmented reality comes in. It allows designs and programs to be projected in the real world using a camera such as the one found in a cell phone. For instance, it can project completed work over an empty job site or recognize safety hazards on an existing site. The possibilities are literally endless with augmented and virtual reality. Managers shouldn't turn up their noses at these new tools.
We've presented just a few examples of how technology can be used on construction sites. Construction-related technology is continuing to advance and will shape and change the way we build for years to come.
Holly Welles is a real estate and construction writer keeping tabs on the ways technology is impacting these industries. She shares more of her finds on Twitter, and homeowners can read her residential real estate blog over at The Estate Update.