Discover the Top 10 Construction Industry Trends & Innovations in 2022
The construction industry is leveraging technology to make construction management and site operations more efficient and sustainable. The major construction industry trends include building information modeling (BIM), construction robotics, and the use of advanced building materials. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic creates the need for newer ways of construction that adhere to worker safety and regulations. Hence, startups and scaleups increasingly develop innovations around prefabrication, worker safety, and construction robotics. Parallelly, 3D printing and green building solutions significantly reduce the negative impacts of construction on the environment.
Top 10 Construction Industry Trends in 2022
1. Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Building planning and designing is a collaborative process that requires inputs from multiple stakeholders including engineers, architects, builders, and clients, among others. With the traditional method, it is difficult to visualize changes in real-time as everyone works on their unique files. This results in generating multiple versions of the same plan and causes confusion. Advanced BIM tools solve this problem by providing a central database and enabling everyone to work on a single shared model. While 5D BIM allows for the cost and time overlays, 6D BIM also accounts for energy budgeting. These solutions identify clashes during the initial stages and improve overall workflow efficiency. In combination with AR and VR, building information modeling enables fast testing in simulated environments.
2. Construction Robotics
Construction continues to be one of the most labor-intensive industries. It includes many repetitive and time-consuming tasks which can be done faster through robotics and automation. Construction robots also reduce human-induced error and losses due to fatigue. For example, collaborative robots automate bricklaying, welding, rebar tying, painting, and many such repetitive tasks with great precision. Robotics solutions also automate heavy equipment and fleets for excavation, transportation, load lifting, concrete works, and demolition. This increases construction worker safety and significantly reduces operational time. Construction automation using robots increases the overall productivity of the project, reduces the labor requirement, and provides safety for dangerous or hazardous tasks.
3. Construction Project Management
Digital project management, one of the upcoming construction industry trends, uses cloud-based software to achieve the goals of quality, time, and cost. Project management already has defined principles for each phase of construction. In the initial phase, the project manager uses AI-based predictive algorithms to understand the project feasibility. Once approved, the manager sets milestones for everyone and distributes the resources using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. In addition to ERP software, cloud-based tools ensure transparency and allow for large volume data storage. Managers also use such software to track expected and actual outcomes of every task and gather insights into bottlenecks. Towards the end of the project, managers draw blockchain-based smart contracts to affirm legal obligations and prevent financial fraud. In this way, digital construction project management reduces waste, increases workforce efficiency, and ensures project completion by deadline.
6. Advanced Building Materials
As the construction industry shifts to modular and green approaches, advanced building materials are complementing the new ways of construction. Many innovative and sustainable materials are replacing the older ones, such as 3D printed concrete and basalt. Materials made from living organisms are gaining in popularity with self-healing concrete that uses bacteria. Moreover, sustainable materials such as mycelium composites, bioplastics, and biofoam also form a part of this construction industry trend. The next category of innovative materials includes aerogel, graphene, spider silk, carbon composites, hydroceramics, and nanomaterials. These materials are lighter and have a higher water holding capacity. Advanced wooden and aluminum materials such as bamboo, cross-laminated timber, transparent woods, and aluminum foam have higher strength and biodegradability. Startups are researching novel sustainable materials that are durable, low-maintenance, and energy-efficient.
4. Offsite Construction
Offsite construction, one of the emerging construction industry trends, allows designing, manufacturing, and fabricating building elements in a factory. In traditional construction, weather conditions increase costs by introducing contingency fees and require extra labor hours. Onsite construction also produces a lot of material waste. Offsite construction, on the other hand, transforms the construction lifecycle in terms of sustainability, worker safety, and quality. It incorporates a range of innovative materials, 3D printing technology, and novel assembling techniques. The first part of offsite construction involves volumetric construction which includes modular and pod construction. This technique allows the prefabrication of heavy 3D structures like rooms and homes. The second aspect includes panelized construction under which the factory develops flat panels for use in walls, floors, or roof panes. Modern commercial buildings use this technique to install partitions and support elements. Hence, startups provide modular construction solutions to replace traditional construction methods.
6. Construction Monitoring
As construction projects are geographically spread and involve many assets and human resources, it is difficult to manually monitor projects. Various areas in construction sites are beyond human reach but still require regular inspection. This is why construction companies are adopting technology to streamline construction monitoring. Value addition from monitoring depends on the level of the monitoring process, which starts from a lightweight audit function (CM1) to quality assurance (QA). Advanced monitoring and inspection techniques use drone-based monitoring in combination with LIDAR or thermal sensors. Construction worker monitoring uses high-definition (HD) cameras and AI-based facial recognition techniques to improve productivity. Robots also detect faults and failures in the structures using embedded sensor technologies with more accuracy than manual inspection. Hence, startups offer services or products to improve the overall efficiency of construction monitoring.
7. Construction Worker Safety
Worker safety still remains one of the most overlooked areas in the construction industry since companies look to minimize labor costs. Increasingly, modern-day construction strictly complies with worker safety rules. While immersive technologies prevent probable onsite accidents, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) acts as a life savior. Construction companies use AI algorithms to predict hazards and take safety measures accordingly. VR technologies train field workers for hazardous tasks via immersive training to reduce accident probability while AR allows fabricators to scan through the objects. To ensure worker safety, companies use PPE embedded with IoT sensors. The sensors detect signals in the form of vibrations, temperature, heart rate, steps, and more and send the information for further analysis. This allows supervisors to remotely monitor workers’ health conditions and productivity. Advanced safety products benefit both workers and companies by minimizing physical and financial losses.
8. Green Building
Sustainability is the main focus of many emerging construction industry trends. Currently, it is time-consuming and expensive to identify sustainable materials or processes for construction projects. Green building is a popular concept that adopts environmentally-friendly measures from pre-construction planning up to project closure and decommissioning. Green buildings optimize energy and resource utilization, reduce waste during construction, and enable buildings to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. Various certifications qualify buildings as green or sustainable depending on the above-mentioned parameters. One of the popular certifications is LEED, also known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, from the U.S. Green Building Council. Increasingly, advanced materials for construction purposes are also LEED-certified. Green buildings are the future of the construction industry and startups are developing solutions to support green construction.
9. 3D Printing
3D printing in construction, also known as additive construction, is a sustainable and efficient method of construction. Construction printers either print entire buildings or only prefabricated building components. 3D printing is a robotic approach that prints the design layer by layer with advanced construction materials in collaboration with BIM. It has high design flexibility without the need for formwork. The various methods used for printing are extrusion, power bonding, and additive welding. Comparatively, 3D construction printing produces less waste and requires fewer labor resources than traditional brick construction methods. It is a fully automated and programmed process that also eliminates human error and improves productivity. Many startups manufacture 3D printers or offer printing services for small-scale and large-scale projects.
10. Connected Construction Site
Construction projects have many dynamic parts and controlling all the elements is crucial to project success. One way to ensure smooth operations is through connecting construction sites. Creating structured workflows and integrating data at each step of construction works ensures the availability of the right information to each stakeholder. Connected construction sites bring together people, processes, and information using AR, VR, AI, robotics, and wearables. IoT technologies, in combination with AI, enable predictive logistics to improve worker safety during construction and also optimize inventory to reduce wastage and related costs. Computer vision enables instant support and guidance, connecting construction sites to the main office. Such solutions allow managers to make faster and more informed decisions based on real-time data.