It is amazing how many aspects of construction have significantly improved since the 1400’s where builders and masons constructed breathtaking stone churches and structures. Imagine if htey had access to the technology we have and what they could have created.
Today, although design and construction principles remain similar (and in fact are leading a revival in designs of today), we’ve seen how the industry has transformed, thanks to modern-day technologies that not only helped make processes faster but also allowed owners and builders to save on costs and to make the entire build process more efficient and safer than ever.
In this article, we will explore the different technological advances in the construction industry and find out what these mean for the buildings of tomorrow.
One of the drivers of the construction industry that has made building work faster without compromising quality is offsite construction.
According to the 2017 book Offsite Architecture by Ryan Smith, offsite construction is the “… manufacturing, planning, design, fabrication, and assembly of building elements at a location other than their final installed location.” Under this method of building, some parts of the buildings are prefabricated in a different location and then brought to the site or in other arrangements, the elements are prefabricated onsite before they are transferred to their final location.
Offsite construction was developed to resolve the common issues of space restrictions and housing of equipment onsite. Builders who don’t have the luxury of space need not delay their operation just to complete various parts of the structure and they need not spend millions of dollars just to purchase the machinery required to construct a particular element of the building. With offsite construction, problems of space, time, and cost are managed appropriately since building work and site tasks can be done simultaneously.
The regard for offsite construction as a new building technology is credited to the rising popularity of modular buildings, where elements of the build are created away from the building site and then installed section by section on the location of the final structure. It must be noted that with this design’s flexibility, cost effectiveness, high quality, speed of construction, and low waste produced, modular buildings are starting to be received well by the market, making it a thriving choice for residences, educational institutions, commercial spaces, and even healthcare buildings.
Machines replacing manual labour is nothing new in today’s world; however, we cannot dismiss how robotics has definitively transformed and will continue to influence the modern construction building technology.
The rise of cobots or collaborative robots, for instance, has contributed to speed up the pace of work and increase the level of safety in construction sites. These machines have substituted humans in a variety of repetitive and dangerous tasks like carrying of heavy materials; welding, cutting, and handling of construction parts; applying coatings and performing quality checks, and that is just the start. From logistics, quality inspections, and production, cobots have worked alongside humans to help big structural projects get completed with less risk and lower costs.
Autonomous equipment that operate without the need for human control are also becoming prevalent in the industry. These self-driving construction machines are usually employed on sites where contractors need to undergo extremely dangerous undertakings such as digging in overly narrow spaces or conducting work in high-risk areas and the like. Companies like Built Robotics, INTSITE, ASI, and Steer are among the big names are serving industry leaders with these kinds of heavy equipment and vehicles.
Construction firms that have issues of achieving work on schedule and hiring can benefit greatly from industrial robots since they help bridge the gap between labour shortage and productivity.
New Fire Safety Technologies
Before legislation made it a requirement in Australia, fire resistance measures were reactive and sadly were often limited to having a fire extinguisher on standby and an evacuation plan plastered on a covert wall inside the building. Unfortunately, these methods didn’t help much in mitigating impacts of a fire, preventing the occurrence of one, nor ensuring safe egress for occupants.
Thankfully today, plenty of impressive fire safety techniques have emerged. This has through technology as a whole and has come to the building industry as a wave – though not necessarily as part of the current green building technology trend.
Video image smoke detection is one such clever technology, This system detects smoke and fire through the use of VISD technology. In this system, camera images are scanned in a computer to assess if there are signs of smoke or a small fire based on motion, colour, brightness, and contrast. If the computer reads the presence of smoke, the alarm system is then notified in order to suppress the accident and prevent it from worsening, causing damage to human and property, and releasing toxic elements to the environment.
Fire alarm systems are also no longer limited to sounds that cause panic to occupants; newer installations already integrate voice commands as well as messaging for evacuation.
Another good fire safety product is intumescent coatings that seek to provide up to 120 minutes fire prevention of structural steel. Applied in microns not centimetres, this paint system helps stell to withstand heat for longer without warping, ensuring maximum building strength for as long as possible which allows occupants to exit and fire crews to get in. Here at Permax we offer the Nullifire SC900 Series coating which you can learn about.
Computerised Expert Systems
Artificial intelligence now plays a large role in streamlining processes and ensuring accuracy of data and design rendition in the construction field. Different software programs now exist to provide guidance to engineers, architects, and contractors in almost all aspects of their professions; from project management to cost control, logistics to 3D floor plan and modelling, among others.
Generative design building automation systems will create uniformity in designs made by different teams and will rid the inconsistencies derived from different professional renders. Unlike regular 3D modelling, generative design considers aspects of architecture, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing in the development of the construction project. It intelligently ensures that the perspectives of engineering, architecture, as well as construction professionals are fused together without compromising the best MEP or mechanical, electrical, and plumbing route for most ideal building design.
The Buildings of Tomorrow
Although we can expect to see forward-looking buildings in terms of exterior aesthetics, the future of building construction will be founded on making work more efficient, environment-friendly, safe, and cost-effective by using the aforementioned revolutionary technologies. Advanced robotics and AI will further improve processes in the construction industry, eliminating the lack of accuracy and the minimalism of delays in project management.
At Permax, we can see more software programs will be developed and more robots potentially taking over different tasks that will require high level of precision, or which involve high risk to prevent the risk of human life loss, which remains to be one of the biggest risks in every project.
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Permax constantly update the documentations based on the new fire testing outcomes and change of standards and regulations. To ensure the documents you read are up-to-date, please contact the Permax technical team.