Like any industry, the construction sector is heavily influenced by technology. While materials such as concrete might not conjure images of sci-fi films, lasers and androids, the industry itself has been immeasurably shaped by technological innovations, and this is set to continue as laboratories and design studios deliver more groundbreaking creations. In this article, the EasyMix team will look at the latest and upcoming technological advancements in the construction industry and how they might impact our work.
Boston Dynamics, a team of engineers and scientists responsible for groundbreaking work in robotics are working on a robot dog called SpotMini. While SpotMini is not being developed specifically for construction sites, it is being seen as an excellent fit for such environments. It possesses 3D vision and an excellent range of motion that allows it to navigate objects, making it ideal for busy construction projects. Using an onboard camera, the SpotMini can survey an area, as well as pick up and handle objects with its perception sensors and hydraulic arm, all done within the 90 minutes of usage that is provided by one full charge.
With Boston Dynamics on track to produce 1,000 SpotMinis by the end of 2019, these robotic assistants could be on their way to our construction sites sooner than we think.
Carbon Neutral Concrete
The pressure is on, not just for businesses, but for people around the world to reduce their carbon footprint for the good of our planet. The construction industry, with its heavy machinery and large-scale projects, is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of ‘green’ sectors, but scientists in Switzerland have theorised that the concrete sector can cut their emissions by 80% by 2050.
The catalyst of said cuts is carbon capture technology. This is the separation of carbon dioxide from other gases generated from industrial processes, and it uses one of three methods: pre-combustion capture, post-combustion capture and oxyfuel combustion. The separated carbon dioxide is then transported to safe storage, then stored in specially-selected rock formations located below the surface of the earth.
As well as the carbon capture technology, more efficient kilns could reduce emissions from cement production by up to 10% around the world.
Backed by £1,000,000 of funding by Innovate UK, the Augmented Worker System is wearable VR equipment that reduces the need for paperwork and handheld devices within a construction project. It does this through providing a heads-up display (HUD) which offers real-time visualisation of the stages of a project, as well as enhanced safety levels.
An early stage of the technology has already been implemented in one of the UK’s largest construction projects, Crossrail. Laing O’Rourke, the contractor for Crossrail, used In-Site AR for asset management, and its success convinced the In-Site AR creator, Sublime, to start work on the Augmented Worker System.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is another AR system already in use in construction, providing interactive 3D models instead of blueprints.
Drones are widely used in other industries to collect images and information in areas that would otherwise be hard to reach. From site assessments to inspections, drones can be remotely controlled to reach tricky areas, with their on board cameras allowing for photography and recording of findings for operators to inspect. The drones also reduce the need for labour, as well as reducing the risk of human error.
As you can see, technological innovations are making a significant impact on our industry, with the next wave of wizardry primed to become a major part of construction projects around the world. Some are of a larger scale than others, but the changes they bring are certain to be felt across the industry.
EasyMix Concrete are proud providers of ready mixed and volumetric concrete for domestic and commercial customers throughout London. Our state-of-the-art fleet and trained, professional staff ensure that we provide the highest standard of concrete services every time. For more information, please contact us today.