Though the construction industry may not be the first industry in mind when it comes to the use of technology, construction businesses utilize a number of technological solutions in its operations. To further explore the demands for technological solutions in the construction industry, Ananda UrbanTech – an expert in construction and home technology under the umbrella of leading Thai property developer “Ananda” – has joined hands with Brick and Mortar Ventures – an international venture capitalist recognized for its investments in construction technology – to organize the World’s Leading-Edge Construction Technology Symposium. At the event, experts shared the latest developments in construction technology that will be happening in the future. The Techsauce team has also joined the event to share the key takeaways from this symposium.
Founded in 2015, Brick and Mortar Ventures specializes in investments and portfolio management for Seed- and Series A-level startups in the field of design, construction, and construction management solutions. B&M Ventures currently manages a venture fund worth US$97.2 trillion that has been funded by investors and leading global construction firms. The VC has also partnered with renowned organizations such as NASA and the US Department of Energy's Project Leadership Institute.
B&M Ventures now holds 26 startups in its portfolio, with companies ranging from architect firms, construction management firms, construction technology firms, to firms specializing in infrastructure analysis.
At the World’s Leading-Edge Construction Technology Symposium, experts shared the latest trends in construction technology that will transform the way construction projects are managed in the future. Expert speakers from the construction and technology industry who took the stage at the event included Dr. John Millar Chief Strategic Development Officer, Ananda Development; Curtis Rogers, Principal, Brick & Mortar Ventures; Dr. Benjamin Coorey, Founder and CEO, ArchiStar; and Simon Gallagher, Director of Technical Services, Integrated Design.
From left to right: Simon Gallagher, Director of Technical Services at Integrated Design; Curtis Rogers, Principal at Brick & Mortar Ventures; Dr. John Millar, Chief Strategic Development Officer at Ananda Development; and Dr. Benjamin Coorey, Founder & CEO of ArchiStarDr. Millar said that construction is not just important; it is essential to the development of the industry. In the future, humans will see the shape of their homes changing continuously as experts have predicted that in the next 40 years, as many buildings as there are now in New York will be constructed every month. Thus, in order to alleviate the effect from massive construction projects, construction technology must be developed before the demands of consumers reach that stage.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rogers revealed that technology firms, businesses, and customers are much more open to using construction technology. While the perfect solution does not need to address all aspects of the construction process, it needs to be adaptable to certain issues that affect the quality of construction work. Once startups explore different solutions, they will find that more than one process in the construction operation can be addressed which will help them further scale their business.
All four speakers discussed trends in construction technology with key takeaways as follow:
Today, we can no longer deny the numerous uses of artificial technology (AI) in the construction industry, with experts saying that AI will become a key factor in developing new solutions from the design process, assessment process, to maintenance for construction projects. For example, Archistar.ai has developed an AI system that assists designers in planning the way buildings are utilized with big data, from the direction of the wind, lighting, shadows, the environment, transportation routes, to the shape and size of the land, so that the construction project will cater as closely to the needs of its inhabitants as possible. Moreover, Cumulus, developer of an AI system that draws information from the Internet of Things, can offer solutions that would constantly monitor and assess the condition of buildings as well as its infrastructure, allowing maintenance to be carried out as efficiently as possible.
As construction work poses various physical dangers to workers such as dangers from height, heat, and chemicals, the construction industry has introduced “robots” to carry out construction work. For example, a startup called CANVAS Construction Robotics has developed robots to paint the interior of buildings. Not only do the robots help decrease the number of workers exposed to chemicals that can be harmful in the long-term period, they can also work much more efficiently compared to human workers, using less time, less paint, and less chemicals while demonstrating high-quality work. The robots also help lower the number of incidents of human errors involving chemicals and the number of accidents and damages, all of which are the objective of developing robotics technology for the construction industry. Therefore, this trend is expected to become much more widespread in the construction industry in the future.
The purpose of all technology is to stop and prevent accidents that can happen to humans.
Computer vision is another technology that has transformed construction projects. By using computers to understand projects, the construction process can be facilitated with technology, from using projections to compare between on-site buildings and blueprints, to the management and monitoring of projects, allowing buildings to be built quickly with higher accuracy. Moreover, as the plans for most buildings are now recorded as a digital file, relevant data can be sent to other parties online. For example, HoloBuilder has developed a solution for process tracking using computer vision from the pre-production, production, to the post-production stages of the construction project.
The final trend that experts are noticing in the construction industry is automation, or the practice of automating the processes related to construction, especially for the management of major projects which tend to be highly complex. With automation, construction will proceed with more convenience and at a quicker pace while lowering the rate of error. Today, automation is already embedded in many stages of construction, from design, cost calculation, resources assessment, capital management, to monitoring errors and accidents on the construction site.
Everything that is ‘predictable’ and ‘repetitive’ should be replaced with automation in order to decrease the rate of human error which could cause significant damages in the construction industry.
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