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Tech-Powered Construction: Building the Future

In an era defined by rapid technological advancements, it's no surprise that innovation has reshaped nearly every aspect of our lives. From the convenience of online shopping to the seamless connectivity of social media, technology has become synonymous with progress. In just a few decades, individuals have transitioned from using floppy disks and dial-up internet connections to experiencing the possibility of neural implants like Neuralink, a brain chip that is fully implantable, cosmetically invisible, and designed to let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go. As technology continues to push the boundaries of what's possible, it's no surprise that industries across the board are witnessing groundbreaking innovations. And construction, an age-old industry, is no exception, but are we running late?

As we stand on the precipice of a new era, where technological advancements propel us into uncharted territories, the construction industry provides its own evidence of human ingenuity and innovation. However, further down the food chain, small to mid-size companies still rely heavily on outdated paper-based processes, hindering progress and efficiency. Despite advancements, the construction industry faces challenges in adopting and deploying new technologies, with many companies lagging in embracing digital systems.

At Hartts Construction, our dedication to innovation led us to integrate advanced business management systems. These systems incorporate leading project management software, vast databases, automation, and AI, resulting in streamlined and accountable outcomes. Many call out the construction industry for being one of the least digitalised in the world and declare it’s time for a technological disruption within the sector. With that said, let's take a closer look at the tech-powered construction innovations that have already started shaping the future of our industry.

Sketchup Design by Hartts Construction

Traditional methods, once reliant on manual labour and basic tools, have now evolved into sophisticated processes. In today's construction sites, we witness a blend of cutting-edge technology and skilled craftsmanship. Robots, drones, and virtual reality systems work alongside experienced workers. This collaboration results in awe-inspiring structures that once seemed like distant dreams, are now brought to life with precision and innovation.

One of the most exciting developments in construction technology is the rise of 3D printing. Imagine a world where entire buildings can be erected in a matter of days, with layers of concrete or other materials carefully laid down by giant robotic arms guided by intricate computer algorithms. This isn't science fiction—it's happening now, with 3D printers capable of constructing everything from small structures to entire homes with unparalleled speed and precision. 3D printing technology offers a solution to global housing shortages, especially in regions where secure shelter is scarce. 14Trees, a collaboration between Holcim and British International Investment (BII), leads this effort, aiming to revolutionise construction through 3D printing. In Malawi, they achieved milestones by erecting the continent's first 3D-printed building and the world's first 3D-printed school. These innovations address critical infrastructure needs swiftly and sustainably, showcasing the potential of 3D printing to tackle societal challenges.

Worlds first 3D printed school by 14Trees

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is its sole purpose only to take impressive aerial holiday shots? Of course, no discussion of construction technology would be complete without mentioning the role of drones. A report by Transparency Market Research states the global market for construction drones is projected to surpass £8.5 billion by 2025. These unmanned aerial vehicles have transformed the way we survey and monitor construction sites, providing real-time data and high-resolution imagery that was once unimaginable. From mapping terrain and tracking progress to inspecting hard-to-reach areas, drones have become indispensable tools for modern construction projects.

Another area where technology is making a big impact is safety. Construction has always been a hazardous industry, but advances in wearable technology are helping to mitigate risks and keep workers safe. Smart helmets equipped with sensors can detect dangerous levels of heat or toxic gases, while exoskeleton suits can reduce strain and fatigue on the job. Wearable devices like the DAQRI Smart Helmet were developed for construction sites to enhance safety. These helmets are equipped with augmented reality displays and sensors that provide workers with real-time information about their environment, helping to prevent accidents and injuries. Although DAQRI disbanded in 2019 their innovations supercharged further development of smart helmets.

DAQRI Smart Helmet

As we navigate through the possibilities and challenges of the construction industry's technological evolution, it's clear that embracing innovation is crucial. If these advancements produce safer work sites for employees, more affordable housing for our communities and a more sustainable way of living for all then what’s the hold up?

The construction industry lags significantly in adopting and deploying new technologies, with the pace of innovation notably sluggish. Many small to mid-size companies have yet to implement operation systems, contributing to the industry's overall slow progress. Additionally, large building material suppliers continue to rely on outdated paper-based systems, despite introducing "new" digital alternatives, leaving their employees a decade behind in technological advancements.

So how do we modernise these companies and their outdated systems?

We must engage in a more comprehensive dialogue concerning how to support smaller companies that lack the resources or expertise to implement these systems. Consideration should be given to potential solutions such as tax incentives or government subsidies to encourage adoption. Additionally, it’s argued that larger contractors could contribute by providing support and guidance to smaller firms navigating this transition.

As we peer into the future of construction, it's evident that the industry is on the brink of a transformative era. Thanks to new technologies like 3D printing, drones, and smart wearables, the way we build is about to undergo a significant transformation. In just a few years, we could see buildings going up faster, safer, and more sustainably than ever before but we also need to see change from the top to the bottom of the industry.

The Hartts Construction ethos is simple yet ambitious: lead with innovation, build with sustainability, and excel with every project. As technology advances, we adapt. Pride is taken in not just constructing buildings, but also in crafting the relationships and communities around them which becomes more achievable with technology as one of our greatest tools.


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