Ryan Kunisch, Director of Global Marketing / Product Management, Trimble.
This year technology will continue to provide increased accuracy, flexibility and jobsite safety, while also further connecting the field to the office and, ultimately, helping construction companies build better products, faster.
SPECIFIC PREDICTIONS INCLUDE Building Information Modelling (BIM) and building a Constructible Model.
For years, construction companies have realised the benefits of modelling software. These days it’s fairly typical to see companies using software to take third-party information from a design package and create a model for use in the field. The next generation of civil engineering and construction software will provide a much broader scope of capabilities.
The goal is to build a Constructible Model with rich “intelligent” data that will serve as the foundation of how contractors plan and execute construction projects. With intelligent modelling, users can add and remove information on the fly while simultaneously looking at multiple ways to perform construction work instead of making manual modifications. The ability to build constructible models is significant because it will enable designers and engineers to run multiple scenarios quickly and easily that accurately translate to a constructible model that contractors can effectively build against.
In addition to building and sharing high-quality models, modelling technology is also evolving to allow design scenarios to be visualised beyond the confines of 3D. Better-integrated camera systems that capture 360-degree digital panoramas and geospatial information will share information with 3D modelling software packages.
Pairing this sort of interactive modelling with ‘intelligent’ data frees engineers and architects to quickly analyse changes and “what if” design scenarios in the context of the physical environment. The potential impact is huge for saving time on rework, accelerating the building phase, and ultimately producing higher-quality projects.
A ‘connected’ worksite
In 2016 and beyond, the construction industry will continue to see technology that brings more visibility and connectivity across a project. The ‘connected’ worksite continues to develop throughout the entire construction workflow.
Today, contractors can take a plan that was created in one software application and use it in another application to track how teams are performing against that plan. As the office becomes more connected to the field, the need intensifies for a more holistic view of the job site, each person, and every machine’s progress to plan. Additional machines, assets and individuals are required to connect into the GPS-enabled digital job site ecosystem.
With a digital construction site, contractors can optimise earlier project planning phases and close the loop between real time information from the field and the office. Developments in this area will offer improvements in planning and more up-to-the-minute scheduling.
Increased automation and training
Keep an eye on the push to integrate GPS or GNSS positioning technology beyond the surveyor and the machine. GPS is more than just the data point it produces; the value it provides is its application to quality, progress, increased efficiency and safety on the construction project. Effectively harnessed, these factors will drive competitive advantage for any construction business.
With an aging workforce and tighter integration of GPS technology and construction equipment, the industry will also continue to see an emphasis on providing more education and training opportunities for individuals earlier in their career path. Scarcity of experienced machine operators in the construction space makes this particularly significant.
With a greater emphasis on training, less experienced operators proficient in machine control technology can save contractors money by performing higher accuracy work ahead of schedule. Using machine control and 3D design models in the cab of the machine, operators are able to become more productive and self-sufficient, and are able to grade more accurately the first time around.
The big picture
When it comes down to it, even the most sophisticated and cutting-edge construction technology is only as good as the people who are using it. Contractors who value their personnel and provide technology training early and often will see the biggest benefits on the job site. The future looks bright for contractors who make an effort to add more value to their machines, while also empowering everyone on the jobsite.
With the ability to build meaningful constructible models that crews can work from more productively and safely, contractors will be able to optimise workflows in terms of planning, design, scheduling, construction and maintenance better than ever in the year ahead.