The construction industry is one of the least automated industries that features manual-intensive labour as a primary source of productivity.
An exact definition of digital construction is hard to come by but may include all or some of the following;
1. Big data capture
2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
3. The internet of things
4. Robots and drones
5. Building information modelling (BIM)
6. Virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
7. 3D printing
8. Block chain technology
Big data capture
Big data is a term used to describe extremely large data sets that can be used to uncover hidden trends, patterns in behaviour as well as unknown correlations. Big data can be used to guide more informed business decisions and can serve as the basis for artificial intelligence and automated systems. Data is harvested from internet searches, mobile phones, social media, texts, skype and emails.
Big data can be analysed to;
De-risk projects by identifying patterns and probabilities of construction risks.
Big data from weather traffic, and community and business activity can be used to determine optimal phasing of construction activities.
Sensor input from mechanical pant used on sites can identify and idle time and can be used to determine the best mix of buying and leasing equipment.
Geolocation (using network routing addresses or internal GPS devices to determine a location) of equipment also allows logistics to be improved,spare parts to be made available when needed, and downtime to be avoided.
Energy usage in shopping centres,office blocks and other buildings can be tracked to ensure it conforms to design goals.
The above data can be fed into a BIM model to schedule maintenance activities.
Robotics and drones
Drones are being increasingly used in construction in the following ways;
Site safety: they can monitor sites to identify any danger areas and give a construction manager a quick view of the site without himself being physically present.
To deliver materials to site, reducing the number of vehicles required on site.
To survey inaccessible parts of the site.
Robots have trialled for tasks such as bricklaying and are constantly be improved in terms of speed and quality of finish.
Coming to a site near you soon.