The Construction Site of the Future

Construction sites haven't changed much within the past 20 years. Sure, as the Health and Safety Executives have got a bit more of a look in the procedures that have been put in place are much more rigorous, but as technology rapidly improves in other sectors, what advances can we expect in the near future.

Work phones are an essential tool in everybody's working lives. We would be dramatically hindered in our capabilities if we were not able to call a specific person whether you happen to be. It is sensible then that everyone from  the project manager to the site foreman has access to one.

Smartphones are capable of so much more than simply calling and texting however, and are often under-utilised. They can be preloaded with specialist apps to perform specific additional features, such as assisting with file sharing, construction drawing management and even updating snagging records on the go. Smartphones can also be used for progress or hazard reporting, by taking photos and uploading them to a central database that everyone can see.

We can also expect a much greater emphasis on sustainable and cost saving ex-situ modular construction. Meaning that large sections of the project, sometimes even entire rooms, can be prefabricated off site, with the core materials (external cladding, structural frame and insulation) already installed. On site the sections are simply aligned and bolted/glued together. 

The most note worthy example of this technology in use is the newly completed 57 floor skyscraper, completed in just 19 days (SOURCE)This awe-inspiring skyscraper contains 800 apartments, office space for 4,000 people and 19 atriums.

Of particular interest is the 'Daqri Smart Helmet' which was featured recently by Engadget. The concept, developed by Los Angeles start up Daqri, is essentially a standard safety hard hard, which still meets the required safety standards, however a camera similar to the one used in the Google Glass is fitted and a transparent visor would act as a screen. 

The benefits of this type of technology being common place on a construction site are endless. Imagine been able to accurately measure the height of a column simply by looking at it? Or even answering a phone call without having to fumble around taking off your safety gloves?

How practical this type of technology would be remains to be seen, and a shift in mind sets would be needed before people are convinced to change over from tried and tested methods. I myself wouldn't want to have to charge my hard hat at the end of each day!

The construction industry is expected by many to be an exciting place to work in the coming years, and although it has always been somewhat behind technologically, it is catching up fast. Watch this space, something revolutionary is just around the corner.