R&D spending in the construction industry is on a steady rise from year to year. Since 2016, the construction industry as a whole has been investing in new innovations, better technologies, and new ways of doing things, including building large structures and small properties. The goal is to make constructing new structures a more efficient process.
These investments are bearing fruit. In recent years alone, new technologies have significantly reduced construction costs by streamlining workflows across projects. From planning to better finishing techniques, new technologies are boosting efficiency like never before. Here are the top four technologies that can reduce construction costs significantly.
New Building Materials
There is no shortage of new building materials and construction methods to choose from these days. The most prominent one is perhaps GFRG, or Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum. Wall slabs are now made from gypsum board that has been reinforced with glass fibre for extra strength and better insulation. The material is not only more durable, but also more flexible.
GFRG reduces construction costs by 20% on average. In some cases, the reduction can be even bigger, especially when the new material is combined with newer designs that take full advantage of GFRG. It also shortens the construction time, since GFRG can be installed quickly with the help of cranes and skilled workers.
Other than GFRG, we are also seeing better precast slabs – lighter and more durable – and the infamous porotherm bricks, durable bricks that interlock with each other without cement. Prorotherm bricks in particular are helping to make construction projects in developing countries become more affordable, giving more people access to housing in the process.
Better Planning Tools
Planning is a big part of any construction project, especially in bigger projects. In fact, planning alone can help reduce the cost of building large structures by a whopping 10%. By carefully scheduling materials, creating efficient designs and drawings, and providing more resources for project management, a construction project can benefit a lot from careful planning.
CAD tools are becoming more advanced, so planning projects with detailed technical drawings is a lot easier. To make things even better, some of the features that weren’t previously accessible, such as virtually testing designs and materials directly on the CAD software, now are and they are helping construction projects be up to 40% more efficient.
It doesn’t stop at the design of the structure itself. Electrical contractors can use electrical estimating software to accurately plan out the labour and cost of installing shared electrical systems for large buildings. No more guesswork is involved in the process; everything from power supplies to supporting infrastructure and lighting can be planned using options such as EES Data’s electrical estimating software. You may benefit from booking a free demo with them first to get a feel for how it works and how much it could improve your processes.
Surveying and Geolocation
Next, we have technologies that make surveying sites easier and more affordable. Drones are becoming more commonly used in construction projects. They are useful for surveying construction progress, details of tough areas, and the exterior of large structures too. What’s interesting is how drones are now capable of doing so much more.
For example, drones equipped with special sensors like sonar can help tackle new challenges such as surveying large construction sites and gathering land characteristic details. Drones that are capable of providing live feeds, combined with computer vision, are also being used to maintain site safety and reduce accidents.
Geolocation is often used alongside drones and other technologies, mainly for surveys and tracking purposes. The latter is actually very important. Larger construction projects now use IoT devices to keep track of material deliveries and a wealth of other resources, resulting in data-driven project management and a significant boost in cost-efficiency.
We really cannot talk about the technologies that revolutionize the construction industry without talking about 3D printing. In the old days, 3D printing was only available on a small scale and with a limited selection of materials; most 3D printers only supported ABS and PVC. Today, however, you can print entire wall slabs, metal support structures, and even entire buildings.
Bigger 3D printers are more commonly found in construction sites. Yes, they are being used on site to support faster and more efficient construction. The support for new materials, such as wood and metal, certainly makes 3D printing a more valuable technology for the industry. Metal window frames, wooden ornaments, and large portions of the support structures can now be 3D printed within hours.
The result is a significant cost reduction. While 3D printers are still relatively expensive, the investments simply pay for themselves when you consider the 40% to 50% cost reduction that comes from using 3D printed materials. Add the higher quality offered by modern 3D printers and the time reduction that the technology also offers, and you have the perfect combination.
Other technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and mobility are also affecting the industry, but these are the four prominent technologies that are helping to reduce the cost of construction in many projects right now. With more R&D being done, expect to see better, bigger revolutions – and more savings – in the near future.
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