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The building technology to look out for in 2017

Mike Plaster
Wednesday 28th December, 2016

 The construction industry’s ongoing drive for quality and efficiency is what keeps it in tune with technological advances. With a renewed focus on sustainability alongside the consistent need to innovate, there are a number of hugely promising construction technology solutions on the horizon. Here we look at three of the building and planning methods which could have a big impact on the industry in 2017.  

With cars now able to drive themselves and the ability to order household essentials at the touch of a button, there’s no arguing that advanced technology is increasingly becoming part and parcel of our everyday lives. As these new tech-savvy solutions arrive, experts in their given field can turn them into new methods and techniques for driving efficiency and improvement.

The construction industry strives to deliver projects on time and under budget. That, coupled with the increasing drive to use sustainable materials wherever possible, makes it essential to keep innovating. Here’s what we can expect to see from new and improved building technology in 2017 - both on the site and during the planning process.

3D printed equipment

We’ve already seen what 3D printers are capable of doing in the building trade, with the world-first ‘Office of the Future’ constructed in Dubai from a special mix of concrete and fibre-reinforced plastic. With a two-storey 3D printer wheeled out for the occasion, an even more ambitious effort in Tennessee could soon provide the tools for the construction itself rather than the materials of the finished product.

In March 2017 the Oak Ridge National Laboratory will unveil[1] its new 3D-printed excavator. The result of a collaboration between various public and private bodies, Project AME (Additive Manufactured Excavator) has printed out its individual components and built them into a functioning prototype. This exciting development could one day lead to the increased use of 3D-printed construction machines, reducing manufacturers’ carbon footprint and increasing the range of innovative building site solutions.

Crew mobility

As mobile tech increases our field of communication, a more efficient method of information handling can effectively reduce delays in the construction process. This would allow relevant planning and building parties to work more closely together during a project, and stay up to date on development. If work is held up by last-minute changes to design or an unavailability of material, an online suite of documentation and processes would hold the answers. Quickly accessible by builders and planners alike, this could enable speedier and more effective consultation on the next steps and allow for quicker progress on a project.

Data capture and use

The ‘Internet of Things’ is a term that gets bandied around a lot – a shorthand term for the tagging and indexing of everyday physical objects, enabling them to become ‘smart’ and communicate with a central hub in order to drive efficiency and cost. In much the same way as you can now turn on your central heating from your mobile app, an interconnected building site would provide floods of data which can be put to great use. This way, when supplies are low or equipment becomes faulty, a site manager can be immediately notified rather than waiting to discover it for themselves and lose time on the build.

Architectural technology could be in line for a massive boost too, with the likes of Building Information Modelling making it easier than ever to visualise the finished build and plan accordingly. And with efficiency and sustainability becoming an increasing concern of construction industry leaders, these concepts could quickly become a reality and lead the sector into a more mindful and considerate future.

[1] http://www.conexpoconagg.com/news/november-2016/3d-printing-an-excavator/

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