Integrating modern technologies into the civil engineering ecosystem has led to great leaps in technical problem-solving. The ability to understand and model the structural strength of a building before construction cannot be understated.
With COVID-19 accelerating technological progress drastically, organizations must now consider if they wish to digitize their construction projects. In the face of rapidly developing technologies, the question is no more how but how soon.
Top Civil Engineering Technological Trends
This article will attempt to showcase six civil engineering technological trends that will significantly impact the industry’s future.
- IoT-Powered Hardhats
IoT (Internet of Things) is responsible for connecting nearly all devices we use daily. From wearables to smart refrigerators, IoT powers them all.
Hardhats are incredible pieces of equipment that do more than safeguard construction workers. In recent years, the hardhat has expanded to incorporate a variety of high-tech features, such as sensors, microphones, cameras, and more. IoT-powered hardhats can improve office-to-field communication. For example, a worker injured during construction can send an SOS through his hardhat and summon assistance quickly.
Other benefits involve building models from the data obtained from the connected hardhats. The collation of movements and responses of construction workers to various situations can result in valuable insights that can be used in training.
The most apparent use for LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is in self-driving cars. But there are other uses too. LiDAR technology can measure distance by shining a laser beam onto a target and calculating the reflected light with a sensor attached to a variety of construction equipment.
This can create a new level of accuracy in highly-intensive engineering jobs where accuracy is of the utmost importance. Using LiDAR, workers can scan their surroundings and generate high-resolution 3D images in real-time. LiDAR brings more safety and efficiency to the job as workers can measure distances between objects from far without having to scale dangerous heights and terrain.
- Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
The construction industry has a long history with Virtual Reality (VR) — the creation of an immersive simulated environment. On the other hand, Augmented Reality (AR) combines computer-generated visuals with real-world images to create an interface with which you can physically interact. This makes AR a powerful medium for communication and construction cost estimation.
VR is an integral part of the construction industry’s toolbox for many reasons. VR allows off-site operators to run operations on-site while being miles away. It also allows running computer-modeled simulations to check the feasibility of an engineering model. AR can help eliminate mistakes during construction by giving workers instantaneous, virtual feedback on their progress.
At this stage, the end-consumer usage of AR and VR technologies is limited because of high costs. However, companies developing these technologies for specific use-cases in construction and engineering are thriving.
Building Information Modeling, or BIM, involves the compilation and management of data of a constructed asset over its lifecycle — from planning and design stages through construction and operations. BIM can improve the efficiency of the design and operations process for buildings, factories, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
BIM makes this possible by combining vast data about the construction site. It improves the productivity of the workers while increasing the cost efficiency of the entire project. It can be a good idea to find third parties actively adopting new technologies in construction. Outsourcing can expand the project’s scope and decrease its timeline.
- 3D Printing
While 3D printing was initially created for product prototyping, it has since grown to the point where it is now a major player in many fields. It has become accessible enough for civil engineering services firms to print entire homes.
As 3D printers can now print structures using cement, the innovation has the potential to alter the construction industry fundamentally. The sheer impact on the construction industry cannot be understated. With faster construction and lower labor costs, construction companies can take up even more ambitious projects.
- Prefabrication and Modular Construction
Unlike construction where the building has to be made at the site, prefabrication occurs off-site, where buildings or their parts are manufactured at a place different from the construction land. As soon as a building is finished, the construction company will move it to the final location, where it is assembled and handed over to the new owners. It is a radically new approach where construction can be changed as per requirements even after final assembly. The concept of modular homes is gaining a lot of headwinds with the ability to add or remove sections of a home as and when needed.
Although these technology trends are sure to create new waves of change and innovation, it is important to understand what suits your projects. Outsourcing your requirements to a reputed and trusted partner ensures that you get the best of the services without the operational overhead.