The Future of Smart Construction Sites

The Future of Smart Construction Sites

March 18, 2024
The Future of Smart Construction Sites

Smart construction sites use internet connectivity to communicate important information and data to project managers. The various devices, like tablets and sensors, used on-site will alert teams to any issues or opportunities for process improvement. In some cases, smart devices can handle tasks that would otherwise be laborious or dangerous to human workers. 

Smart construction sites of the future will incorporate a range of technologies to improve worker experiences and project outcomes. There are several ways to make a construction site smart to address the current challenges you are facing. While some of these are currently available, other tools are currently in development and will be part of the future workplace. Here are a few potential investments to consider. 

Collaborative Design 

Gone are the days of architects drawing blueprints with pencils and protractors. Today’s building designers have a variety of digital tools to make this process easier. One unique method is to use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to better visualize designs and turn drawings into simulations.  

These AR/VR mock-ups can also make the project takeoff easier. The digital tools can send information to materials estimating systems and communicate the size and specifications of a building. This will allow construction takeoff software to better calculate project needs and order the right amount of materials. 

The use of AR/VR in construction highlights how the design process is faster and easier, while also reducing waste in other parts of the development process. 

Automation of Dangerous Tasks 

Construction automation could take over high-risk tasks that are difficult for employees to complete. For example, there are around 325 contractor electrocutions annually and 77% occur on construction sites. Robots of the future could take over electrical work, reducing the rates of electricity-based deaths in construction.  Automation could save lives. 

Fortunately, there are already some systems in place that are reducing workplace injuries and deaths. For example, off-site assembly or off-site robotics prevents injury by handling heavy and difficult work. This keeps construction teams healthy while potentially lowering the workers’ compensation rates of development companies. 

Real-Time Progress Tracking 

Smart sensors log information and report it back to project managers. These tools can provide real-time progress tracking as they sense what percentage of materials have been used, how equipment has been used, and which subcontractors have visited the job site. As a few examples, today’s sensors can monitor which lights are left on and turned off on a worksite or they track the speed of fleet vehicles traveling to and from the job site. These are just two sources of information that affect the security, safety, and cost of construction projects.  

Internet of Things (IoT) smart sensors could be used to monitor job site conditions and improve workplace safety if there are risks present. Even basic reports on the weather conditions at a job site can alert project managers to potential delays. 

Enhanced Security

Smart devices support workplace safety and security in a variety of ways. From a security standpoint, cameras can detect motion and alert security teams that there is a potential threat on the job site. Not only can cameras record the would-be criminals, but they can silently alert project managers or authorities that there is an issue. 

Smart tools can also support workplace safety. For example, drones can monitor job sites better than humans can. People controlling these drones can check on multiple aspects of the work site at once. The project managers can make a note of any safety violations that could cause injuries.  

Drones and smart cameras are particularly useful for large job sites that have multiple moving pieces being built at the same time. 

Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has several notable applications on smart construction sites. This technology can be integrated throughout the construction process to streamline various workflows, including: 

AI continues to streamline manual and complicated processes to help builders. It reduces the amount of wasted time and wasted materials accrued on job sites, making projects run smoother. 

Streamlined Communication 

AI-powered software can strengthen communication and streamline workflows on construction sites. Many of these tools send automatic updates and reports to project managers, which they can then share with their customers or review with their staff. 

For example, a project manager can share an AI-generated report that highlights how close the project is to completion. The same manager can also review the materials costs and ask their subcontractors if they need anything else to do the work. 

Automated communication can start discussions and create transparency within teams. This also makes it easier to document the project as a whole. 

Improved Safety 

AI already plays a significant role in construction safety and it will continue to grow in value as more companies adopt AI-powered tools. Here are a few ways AI is making job sites safer:  

While every construction manager wants to complete jobs on time and within budget, safety is still the most important factor to consider. AI, when used correctly, can prevent injuries and reduce work-related deaths. 

Stronger Steel and Concrete 

AI has the power to change the very materials that construction sites use. AI systems are developing high-performance steel and concrete materials that are more durable and easier to handle. Researchers are currently working to develop concrete that has lower carbon emissions to create greener buildings. Considering humans use between 10 to 30 billion tons of concrete each year — accounting for eight percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions — this development could significantly impact how construction affects the planet. 

As processes to make construction materials change, such as AI-based development and 3D printing, so will their prices. While high-tech cement and concrete finishes are advanced in creation and in demand with customers, they cost more. Both customers and developers need to be aligned in their budgets and know exactly what materials they need. Effective concrete estimating and steel estimating can help clients get the advanced materials they want without going over budget. 

More Accurate Estimates 

Accurate estimations are essential for construction projects. If a materials estimate is too small, the contractor will run out of what they need. This can delay the project and frustrate the customer with additional costs. However, if the materials estimate is too large, the company will waste money on unused materials.

AI-based cost estimators in contractor takeoff software streamline the process of calculating and ordering materials. These tools can use the blueprints and historical data to track actually what companies need to get their work done. Not only are these AI-powered insights more accurate than the calculations of human developers, but they are also faster.

Once the project is complete, the developer can report the success of the project to customers through their digital tools. They can show exactly how much was spent and how close it was to the estimate. This increases their organization’s transparency and leads to positive client relations.   

Smart construction sites make sure the work gets done safer, faster, and with less waste. This improves client outcomes and the profitability of construction teams. 

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