If you’ve worked in construction for many years, you’ll be fully aware of how the industry has changed. While the fundamental process of construction remains familiar, the methods, materials and technologies used have all undergone significant evolution in the past few decades.
The future of construction holds many challenges, but also great opportunities. Here are just four trends that look set to shape the future of construction for decades to come.
Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Robotics
These three advanced technologies will impact every area of our economy (if they haven’t already), including construction. Robotics will improve remote site monitoring, allow for work to be carried out in unsafe conditions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and transform how we use vehicles on-site. Big data will give us complete information on every aspect of project management, providing more opportunities to boost margins and improve outcomes.
Finally, artificial intelligence will combine with these technologies to continue to improve data quality and adjust software accordingly.
Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)
MMC generally refers to off-site construction techniques, and is often touted as the answer to many of the UK construction industry’s problems. MMC involves creating panelised units or three dimensional modular units off-site before they’re transported to the site. Of course, prefab buildings are nothing new, but today’s technology means that the potential to produce high quality structures using MMC is bigger than ever before
MMC has numerous benefits, including improved productivity, shorter build times, a safer working environment and reduced waste. While some scepticism remains about MMC, we can expect more and more developments to make use of these techniques.
Advanced materials will increasingly be used in construction in numerous ways. These materials might provide a low carbon or sustainable alternative to traditional materials, offer fire safety benefits, or simply be stronger, lighter, or more visually appealing than older materials.
From self-healing concrete to transparent wood (say goodbye to glass windows!), there are hundreds of exciting new building materials in the works. Of course, not all of these materials will make it to the market - let alone be affordable enough to become ‘mainstream’ in construction. But there’s no doubt that a select few of these materials will make it to a site near you in the coming years.
Circular business models
Dealing with waste is expensive for any business, and the sheer volume of materials used by the construction industry means that waste is a significant source of inefficiency for construction companies. The sector produces about 100 million tonnes of waste a year in the UK alone, about half of which is recycled.
Some experts believe that switching to a circular model is the answer. Under a circular economy, a business tries to reuse and maintain resources instead of recycling them or disposing of them. Useful materials are recovered at every stage of a product’s life cycle - from extraction and processing to use, repair and disposal. While some construction projects already use reclaimed materials, the circular model puts this at the heart of a business’s operations.
These incredible ideas and technologies might seem a long way off for your construction business, but it’s important to be aware of these developments so that you don’t get left behind if and when they do become mainstream!