The Western world and Australia, in particular, is pretty damn slow at taking on innovation, particularly in the construction industry.
In the 2018 Global Innovation Index, we’re No. 20. We could be higher. But to be fair, we are taking steps towards innovation in construction.
1. 3-D Printing
There are companies claiming to build entire houses, like Apis Cor (6-min video) who printed the world’s first residential house.
And in the Netherlands, there’ll soon be a 3D printed steel pedestrian bridge (1-min video) across the canal.
In Australia, we now have the capacity to print steel objects within an envelope measuring 9 m x 3 m x 1.5m, which means it’s now actually possible to print Yenem’s altCONNECT structural connection (2-min video) in full-size!
2. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality has finally made its way out of the gaming industry fully into the real world. 4D virtual reality models fully immerse stakeholders in the environments of planned construction during the planning and design stages for major projects.
4D environments allow companies to plan every aspect of the construction project, improving everything from safety to efficiency, and delivering a more consistent and quality final product.
Our latest structural audit report is a VR tour of the job site that lets our client view the problems we discovered and click for the recommendations.
3. Augmented Reality
The DAQRI Smart Helmet is the construction hard hat of the future. It’s got a processor, augmented-reality tracking camera, integrated depth sensor which harnesses the integrated RGB camera, stereo infrared cameras, and infrared light projector. Why? You’ll have to watch the 1-minute video! It’s cool!
4. Wearable Technology
How about a clip on your belt that alerts your safety officer when you trip, slip or fall, and what zone of the job site you’re in. Forget pairing headphones – now you can pair your workers and watch them move around the job site. Who wouldn’t want to participate, in the interests of personal safety?!
5. Machine Learning
Drones fly around the job site, gathering visual data. But the real smarts come from software that analyses the video and photos and using artificial intelligence (AI) scans the data for a variety of purposes, including checking workers are correctly attired in PPE.
In our world of structural audits, the software can learn to “see” structural deficiencies, damage, corrosion, missing braces etc. Tracking construction projects is now so much easier too, with software able to identify changes at every step. I’m guessing government infrastructure projects might get done a lot quicker in the future.
6. Internet of Things (IoT)
Strange phrase this one – I didn’t pay much attention at first, but “Things” refers to non-computers having smarts like computers.
Originally it was things like the Samsung fridge, that could order food as it disappeared from the shelves. There are smart rubbish bins that let the “garbo” know when they need emptying, rather than doing that on a schedule that discovers both empty and over-flowing bins.
But with IoT, we can now monitor, track and control equipment and structures too. Bridges are connected to networks that alert on overload, traffic congestion etc. Ever spent time at work looking for something? Supplies and equipment on site can be located from an app.
Data is the new Gold!
Robots are building what printers can’t print. Working alongside humans, robots on construction sites are laying bricks, tiles, pavers – straighter and faster than we can.
Don’t want your job replaced by a robot? That’s okay, be like Tony Stark (Iron Man) – get a bionic suit! Ekso Bionics EksoZeroG technology (2-minute video) lets construction workers do their jobs without the pain associated with hard physical labour, and helps avoid injuries.
Which one is your favourite?
What innovations are you using, or thinking about in your company? I’d love to know. Leave some comments below.
Are you helping Australia get higher up the Innovation Index? Or are you waiting for everybody else?
I hope not – it’s not innovation when we’re all doing it!
Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email from Yenem’s director, Dave Meney