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A look at how today’s trends are shaping the future of technology used in the construction industry

Too often, the public perception of the construction field is that of an industry that is slow to change and adopt new technology. However, if you have been working in the field for more than a few years, you already understand that nothing could be further from the truth.

The simple reality is that the construction industry is always changing and adapting to new demands, processes and technology. While it’s true that craftsmanship, steel and wood are the building blocks on which the industry is forged, the tools and technology used to shape these building blocks are continually evolving.

Just think about how the documents used to design and engineer a new building are stored. Ten years ago, all those documents would have taken up draws upon drawers of filing cabinets. Fast forward to today, when those same documents can all be stored on a thumbnail drive – better yet, they can all be made accessible from your mobile device.

And that was just 10 years ago.

A look at construction technologies in development suggests a near-term revolution in how we build and operate. Need more convincing? Here is a look at how a few seemingly futuristic technologies are shaping the jobsites of today:

  • The Internet of Things:  The Internet of Things (IoT) is having a tremendous impact on efficiency and worksite collaboration. With smartphones and tablets becoming the standard on many jobsites, workers are already experiencing unprecedented universal access to up-to-date project information. Yet, these advantages are not only being relegated to the mobile device. From remote equipment monitoring sensors to high-soaring, jobsite surveying drones, the IoT is set to forever impact the technology used in construction.
  • 3D Printing: While 3D printing has yet to penetrate the core of the construction industry, it’s hard to ignore its potential impact. From printing 3D models and full scale prototypes to fabricating permanent building material, the possibility seems only limited to our imagination. In fact, according to Gartner, worldwide shipments of 3D printers will increase 101% (from 108,151 to 217,350 units sold) throughout 2015, while worldwide shipments are forecasted to reach more than 2.3 million by 2018.
  • Lasers and GPS: Not too long ago, defining building perimeters and surveying construction sites were intricate processes, relying on the careful orchestration of string, tape measure, calculations and hand drawn boundary lines. While still an intricate process, lasers and GPS have made this entire process infinitely more efficient.

Let’s face it, our fathers and grandfathers could only dream about the technology being used in today’s construction industry. In their day, people had to do everything by hand, and a great deal of the work was done in teams. Today, and looking to the future, many of those same processes have become mechanical, and in many cases computerized. While it still takes skilled craftworkers to perform these jobs, the tools used to support them are of a very different nature.

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