10 Construction Technology Trends in 2023 You Cannot Miss
It is hard to believe that three years have already passed since the first Covid outbreak. While the pandemic impacted all of us differently, the sectors centered on the domestic market were hurt the most. During 2020, the construction industry had remarkably lower economic activity levels, which resulted in the sector’s contraction by -12.7 percent.
But as Covid-19 started to die off slowly, construction companies got back on track. According to the same source, in 2021, the overall production volume rose by 26.3% in the year’s second quarter.
Today, construction is the largest industry in the world. Yet, with over 13% of the global GDP, it is also one of the slowest growing. The current state, however, doesn’t alter the fact that the construction industry is a great employer, and its economic influence is likely to increase in the future.
Technology and innovation have become increasingly drastic in the past couple of years, and the construction industry is no exception. As the sector continues to experience the rapid transformation of the digital age, there are emerging technologies in construction every field representative should look forward to.
Although this is great news for all of those working in the construction industry, it also means that you should keep up with the upcoming construction technology trends, as not fall behind the competition.
And we’re here to help you out with it. Following the listed construction technology trends, companies can boost their productivity, building considerably faster. And what can be better than increasing the efficiency of your work, right?
Thus, without further ado, here are the top 10 construction technology trends to follow in 2023 and beyond.
Trend #1 Cloud-Based Construction Software and Mobile Apps
Let’s talk facts. Construction companies are infamous for their time management issues. According to the McKinsey & Company report from 2016, large construction projects usually take 20% longer to complete than scheduled and are a striking 80% over budget. This hasn’t changed much in the past five years.
One of the reasons the construction industry falls behind so much is that most companies refuse to digitalize. According to the same report, construction is one of the least digitized industries in the world. While most of the other sectors witnessed a tremendous software transformation, construction still heavily relies on paper-based documents and manual processes.
Many construction firms have started using software and mobile apps to track their tasks to tackle this issue. Of course, tracking the workflows via Excel or paper documents is still possible. Yet, it’s almost impossible to imagine how someone can sit and write all the data of a large construction project on a piece of paper. Not speaking of invoicing and accounting issues. Instead, cloud-based software offers more scalability and improved accuracy.
So, if you want to avoid management problems and budget overflows, it’s time to take your business to the next level and reach your full potential with cloud-based tools that assist in construction management.
That said, it does not mean a construction company should give up reporting practices overall. On the contrary, it should find a more modern approach, which takes us to our next point: integrating cloud-based construction software. But to understand why your company needs it, you first need to understand what it is.
Cloud-Based Computing Explained in a Nutshell
Cloud-based computing is the technology allowing users to access data through the software application that operates using the same shared computing resources (like memory, data storage, processing power, etc.) via the Internet.
What does this mean for a construction company?
It means you and all the project stakeholders can access real-time data from their devices. The cloud-based software allows company employees to submit their expense reports, time cards, and RFIs from the working site. While this improves the accuracy of data and makes all construction processes faster, it also helps to reduce costs due to the decreased amount of paper documents. The software, in its turn, organizes all the information automatically, saving construction managers hours of work.
On the other hand, tools with mobile applications help builders manage every single detail of your construction project. From planning and preconstruction to actual scheduling, management, and field reporting, the right software will allow you to monitor and improve all the stages of the work.
Tips to Benefit
With the right all-in-one construction software, your company can keep all the information and project details within a centralized system, assuring transparency for your clients.
Today, the market is overflooded with various software offering different features. Depending on the type of your business, you should opt for a platform that can:
- Synch with any other type of software (e.g., accounting) and provide you with a big-picture view
- Support various stages of the construction project
- Help you design detailed estimates and reports
- Connect all project stakeholders in real time, providing them access to critical information
- Track progress and enable accurate billing and invoicing
Luckily, a software solution like Buildern has already got you covered. It’s a cloud-based construction management software that provides all the above features.
For instance, integrating with the world’s leading accounting software, Xero and QuickBooks, Buildern lets construction managers take complete control of their company’s financial operations. Integrating the platforms is as easy as it can be!
Trend #2 AR & VR in Construction
The second on our list of top construction technology trends is the AR/VR duo. There are many ways your construction company can use augmented and virtual realities to take the business to the next level.
But before we look at each of them, let’s first understand their differences.
AR vs. VR
AR stands for augmented reality. The term means it takes the existing physical environment and then enhances and augments it with different elements using computer-generated input.
VR, on the contrary, is the abbreviation of virtual reality. The term implies that it creates an entirely different, computer-generated digital reality, which replaces the existing environment with an artificial construct.
If you’re looking for innovative construction trends, you should certainly use augmented reality technology. Not only is it fun, but it’s also beneficial for your workers and clients.
With AR, you can input your 3D model of the design into the real environment. It means your client could actually see how the designed furniture and interior would look in his house. This is easy through a mobile phone or tablet.
The AR experience would allow your client to visualize the complete design and understand how it would work in the context of the existing place.
And for your workers, construction AI could allow them to pretty literally “see through walls.” The so-called “Smart Helmets,” which already exist in the market, help the workers bring the building information model to the construction site and immerse themselves in it.
Just like AR, virtual reality too can serve during the preconstruction process. In this case, your client could immerse themselves entirely into the future design and walk through it!
Think of VR as the upgrade of 3D modeling. Just like 3D modeling, it creates a detailed virtual model of the object. However, VR takes it to the next level as it incorporates immersive technology. In other words, it places the user “inside” the digital environment for a more engaging and complete experience.
Both AR and VR can also be used to assure employees’ safety during the training. Here’s how you can integrate them into your employees’ educational training programs:
Better Employee Safety and Workers’ Technical Know-How Improvement
Unfortunately, the construction industry isn’t the safest place for its workers. There are a lot of hazards and accidents, like falling, getting stuck between the blocks, or being electrocuted. The worst part is that some of these accidents might end up being fatal for the employees.
In 2019, the construction industry experienced the most cases of workplace deaths. Overall, according to the CPWR report, construction worker deaths increased by a booming 41% during 2011-2019. So it is not surprising that it is considered one of the most dangerous spheres to work in.
These statistics tell us that it’s time for construction businesses to seriously work on their safety measures and make their employees aware of possible accidents. This way, it will be easier to prevent fatal cases.
But how exactly can you train your workers and ensure a more secure workplace? Yes, you guessed it: it’s all about augmented and virtual realities.
Both construction AR and VR are promised to experience significant growth in the upcoming year. They can be really helpful during the safety training sessions.
The construction VR would let the workers feel like they are in a confined space or are working at a huge height, without having to do that in reality. Even training can be dangerous for those new to the industry, so VR stands as a safe alternative for field workers.
By the way, using VR for training is not a new experience. It has been used to prepare soldiers, pilots, and surgeons for years, so it’s a pretty common practice.
But that’s not it. Companies can also use construction AR to improve safety at the construction site itself. For example, it can help create a more detailed safety plan or expose workers to augmented dangers during training without risking their lives.
All of this entails that your workers have access to all the required VR and AR technologies. For the AR, giving your employees a simple smartphone with a specific app can be enough.
Whatever it is, keep in mind that your workers’ safety should be your company’s top priority. So make sure you train your employees and make them ready to face any hazards that might occur during the work.
Trend #3 AI & Machine Learning In Construction
Once you can ensure your workers’ safety, it’s time you make their working process more efficient. Why force your employees to engage in a meaningless task if you can avoid it with the help of artificial intelligence? Just think about the time your workers waste moving around the construction site just to grab the necessary tools, retrieve the materials or take specific equipment.
Now imagine that you track your workers with the help of their smartphones and wearables, and even more. You learn how the materials and equipment are moved around with the help of attached sensors. After you collect all the data, you can use artificial intelligence to analyze it and develop a better solution for your workers.
It eventually would improve your construction productivity by arranging all the tools in more accessible places. In the end, your construction site would be way more convenient for your workers, which, in turn, would decrease the downtime.
The collected and analyzed data could also help you understand how much work your field employees perform each day and during which they are most energetic. Then, the AI will improve the schedule accordingly and set alarms once it detects someone falling behind the required deadlines. It will also notify you once it notices significant onsite errors so that you can correct them on time and evade an expensive rework.
Overall, the data collection and analysis done through AI or machine learning can help you gain a competitive advantage, making your construction company stand out in the market. It can serve you as a tool to forecast your future project’s outcome and help you improve your overall workflow, even before you start the project.
Using artificial intelligence in construction has become pretty popular in recent years for most construction companies. AI is also used through robots that monitor the construction progress, using real-time data to perform specific actions which increase productivity.
But robotics deserve a separate section in our list, so let’s give them a more profound overview:
Trend #4 Repetitive (Robotic) Task Automation
Let’s admit it: most of us have watched too many sci-fi movies, where robots are nothing but bad news. But trust us, we’re not facing a robot apocalypse anytime soon—quite the opposite.
The robots we’re talking about are here to make the working process more automated, which means less time-consuming, safer, and more efficient. And don’t worry, introducing robotics to the construction field does not mean leaving the construction workers out of their jobs: it’s more about making their jobs easier.
For instance, robots can complete repetitive tasks such as bricklaying or rebar tying. They would do the same thing much faster, as they can work without stopping. On the contrary, construction workers will surely get too tired from lifting heavy bricks or bending over all the time if they don’t get enough breaks and sleep.
Other examples of robots that help automate repetitive work are the ones used for cutting, putting into cartons, palletizing, unitizing linear meters, packaging, etc. Thus, robots can help on the construction site and during the fabrication process.
Then what is left for the workers, you might think. Well, there still should be people who know how to work with robots, meaning they can set them up and monitor their tasks. For example, even if the bricklaying robot can do the work fast, it will not complete it perfectly. So there still should be a person to ensure the bricks are placed correctly and clean the mortar afterward. And this refers to all the robots: no matter how automatic their work is, there should be people who oversee it.
In other words, robots are here to help construction workers rather than steal their job. They will reduce the amount of tedious, repetitive work, leaving only the problem-solving and overseeing parts.
Trend #5 Drones
A popular one among the innovative construction trends of the upcoming year is using drones on job sites. Drones are among the most innovative tools in the industry for construction tracking, monitoring, and conducting dangerous inspections.
We talked about safety earlier, but we haven’t mentioned how drones can enhance construction site security. With drones, making sure that your employees are secure is easier.
They can monitor all workers and report quickly in case any hazardous situation arises. Or, to take it to the next level, you can use drones to prevent all the hazards up front. For instance, drones can help with quick job site inspections. They can identify the potential risks daily, so workers know them.
You can also use drones to take photos of the work process, which you can use to keep your clients informed of the crew’s everyday progress and recent achievements.
Builders can access the data collected with drones on different platforms, like desktop computers, tablets, or smartphones. This means both the stakeholders and the site workers can access the work updates pretty easily. It can be as simple as checking an image on your phone!
Finally, drones are also helpful in conducting the most dangerous jobs, like building bridges. But, of course, it does not mean they can eliminate the need for workers. Companies should still train their employees to use drones and make them perform the required tasks.
And that leads us to the next question. Should a construction company invest in drones and train its workers to learn the technology, or should it outsource drone services?
This is a serious decision; the answer depends on your company’s current situation. Even having enough workforce and financial resources to buy drones does not guarantee that investing in your drone fleet is the best solution. This is because your employees might take too long to learn how to use the technology correctly.
So most of the time, outsourcing this critical task to a company with expertise in the sphere is the most efficient solution. But again, it’s a decision you should make on your own, considering all the advantages and drawbacks of outsourcing.
Trend #6 Full-Sized 3D Printing
Imagine printing an entire house! Well, if this would sound crazy a couple of decades ago, today, it’s a common practice. Yes, we’re talking about 3D printing as one of the construction technology trends for this year!. In 2023, we are all about to see more 3D printing in construction. But let’s first understand what 3D printing implies.
What is construction 3D printing?
3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, creates three-dimensional objects from a digital file. But how does that happen?
3D printed objects are created using additive processes where the printer lays down successive layers of the chosen material until it shapes the object.
Compared to traditional manufacturing methods, 3D printing helps you build complex shapes and objects with less material.
In subtractive manufacturing, for instance, you would create the same thing by cutting or hollowing out the metal or plastic, which would result in a lot of wasted material.
3D printing was first developed in the 1980s. Still, it was too costly to back then, so it did not gain much popularity. However, in the 2000s, 3D printing became more affordable and straightforward, making many companies interested in it. Today, it is used in all different spheres, like product design, tool manufacture, and construction.
3D Printing in Construction
According to the GVR report of the 3D printing market, from 2021-2028, the 3D printing construction market size is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of as much as 91.5%.
3D printing will be already used to model and build complex structures, whether small or large scale. In fact, one of the biggest 3D printing construction companies, ICON, is collaborating with Lennar and the architecture studio BIG to build a so-called “3D neighborhood” in Austin, which has 100 3D-printed houses.
When the project is completed, the neighborhood will be the largest 3D-printed home community in the world.
This said, we understand that integrating 3D printing in construction might be a challenging task if you’re new to it. However, keep in mind that the technology will help you build houses in a highly accurate manner. This will improve your work efficiency, reducing labor costs, and allowing you to finish projects much faster.
Trend #7 Green Construction Technology
Environmentally speaking, our planet is currently in a critical condition, and using green building technology is not only one of the newest construction technology trends. It’s slowly becoming mandatory.
But what do we mean by green construction technology? For those who don’t know, green construction technologies are energy-efficient, innovative tools that leave less carbon footprint on the environment. In other words, it is a more sustainable solution that benefits builders, residents, and building owners.
The thing is that most of our countries are confronting the “Urban Heat Island” phenomenon, which is when the urban areas have a much higher temperature than the surroundings. The reason for this occurring is that cities are packed with too many buildings and fewer green surfaces. So, even tiny steps towards more environmentally friendly cities will matter.
Green construction technology trends allow designing buildings that consume less energy, have more design flexibility, cost lower to maintain, and so on. The best part is that green building technology does not reduce the durability of the structures while helping to minimize the amount of material used.
And for the residents, it reduces the annual energy, gas, and water expenses. So basically, it is a win-win solution.
When integrating green construction equipment into your workflow, you should be most attentive to the material selection process.
The material you use is a crucial aspect of sustainable building. To understand which building material will suit your project the most and still be eco-friendly, you need to:
- gather technical information through surveys
- go through the cost estimating to understand which is the most durable and affordable solution
- select the best option according to the research done
Trend #8 Offsite Construction
Following the previous construction technology trends, offsite construction is an emerging trend, slowly revolutionizing the construction industry. By using modern building techniques, such as pre-casting and modular systems, offsite construction allows builders to construct and assemble building components in an offsite location, like a factory, then move them to their final destination and assemble them.
Offsite construction may incorporate emerging construction technology trends, including but not limited to 3D modeling, prefabrication, and robotics. It is a great way to reduce onsite material waste, as most components are pre-made and delivered to the site ready for assembly.
As a rule, the process can be summed up into two phases:
- Volumetric Construction – the components are pre-manufactured offsite. Engineers can prefabricate extra complex 3D structures like rooms, walls, and staircases at this stage.
- Panelized Construction – the factory develops the prefabricated components offsite into bigger units, later installing them on location.
As for the benefits, offsite construction saves more time, money, and labor, which means fewer interruptions for the project. It is also much safer for the local environment than traditional construction in terms of noise, dust, and waste. Moreover, it ensures much better control over quality assurance and project management.
The only downside is that offsite construction requires specific and highly trained labor. So, you must ensure that your project is in the right hands.
Trend #9 IoT and Advanced Analytics
Standing for the Internet of Things, IoT is a technology that uses sensors and algorithms to collect data from multiple connected devices.
In the construction industry, such data can help identify safety issues and ensure the building process is going as planned. Thanks to sensors, construction companies now have access to real-time data that enables them to make quick, professional decisions.
Additionally, advanced analytics tools can track, evaluate and analyze the current situation on site and provide timely warnings of potential risks. This is especially helpful when dealing with challenging construction projects and working in dangerous conditions.
IoT is an excellent tool for preventing errors due to its data collection capabilities. This means construction companies can get vital information about the construction process and use it to improve their workflows.
Trend #10 Major Labor Shortage
Not everything is pleasant and bright. The labor shortage is a major problem that the construction industry has been continuously facing over the past years. According to the latest statistics, there were over 494 thousand job openings in the construction industry as of April 2022. That’s an unprecedented 40% increase compared to the same period in 2021.
This means construction companies will have to work hard and develop innovative solutions to fill those positions with qualified workers. One of the most popular solutions is to offer competitive salaries and other incentives such as flexible hours, paid days off, and training programs.
Additionally, construction companies should focus on training and developing their current employees to ensure their skill sets remain up-to-date. This will ensure that the company will stay ahead of the competition and remain profitable.
Final Thoughts for Construction Technology Trends in 2023!
2023 is promising to be a good year for the construction industry: you’ll undoubtedly get more project offers, increase your cash flow, and witness your construction company’s overall growth. That is if you keep up with the upcoming construction technology trends and stay on track with the industry’s latest updates. So, make sure you make 2023 your year, and check our blog for further tips and guides on how to do so.