The 30 year mark for predictions made by the movie Back to the Future has come and gone, which has sparked a lot of speculation as to what the next 30 years will look like on Earth. Though we didn’t get everything that the movie had promised, the amount of technological advances that have already been made obsolete by newer and better technology is nothing short of amazing.
Dr. Ian Pearson, a Doctor of Science and full time futurologist in conjunction with Hewden, a UK equipment rental firm, recently created a report to show us what he believes the construction industry will look like in the year 2045, titled 2045: Constructing the Future. In the report, Dr. Pearson discusses advances in material technologies, building practices, half human/half machine workers, augmented reality, and smart buildings.
Dr. Pearson’s report indicates that overall, building materials will not only continue to be stronger, but also lighter, making it easier to build oddly shaped structures. We’ve seen it a lot in recent years, so don’t expect that to change on the future. He’s not just talking about structural elements either, even glass and composites will be made stronger and lighter, with the use of Graphene, Carbon Nanotubes, and other currently non-existent materials. One of the more interesting predictions he makes in this section is spray-on solar coatings, which would make solar panels next to invisible.
3D printing, which has made waves in the news in the recent past will also make humongous strides forward, as you might imagine. Ultra-fine detail work will become easier and easier, so we could be seeing more buildings that could bring back some of the charm the world’s older buildings have.
Humans and Robots
Exoskeletons are currently being developed and used that allow paraplegic adults to walk upright and allow construction workers to hold 50 pound pieces of equipment with no effort. The report predicts that technology will continue to progress, ultimately making a human operated robot with many Inspector Gadget-like features, see picture below.
It’s certainly getting easier and easier to build mega tall structures, with 9 buildings currently in development that would dwarf America’s tallest building, the Willis Tower. Dr. Pearson concludes that this trend will continue and the buildings will be treated more like mini-cities, just like the Burj Khalifa. He goes as far to say that London could potentially have a building that stands 18 miles high with a space pod on top. If that’s true, it’s only a matter of time before the extreme sports enthusiasts try to find a way to jump off of it. The photo below is a rendering of the London Skyline in 2045
Not only will buildings be built taller and taller, Dr. Pearson predicts that they’ll be built with less windows, as well. The windows will instead be replaced with either augmented reality or projection displays, which would reduce maintenance, reduce cost, and make the rooms attractive without a “view” of the outside.
We certainly encourage you all to check out the full report that Dr. Pearson and his colleagues spent so much time on, so, for that reason, we’ll skip over the transportation section and tease you with the picture below:
Impact of Technological Advances in Construction
So what does this all mean for the poor saps working in construction right now and who plan to still be working in 2045? Well, don’t be too worried about all those robots. Dr. Pearson points out that all of the new materials and techniques will require workers to learn new skills, but that those new roles could lead to higher salaries and satisfaction with their jobs. Workers in the future will start to think of robots as their “colleagues,” instead of, like we do with the equipment now, as just machines. The economic impact is bright as well, with estimates that, by 2045, the construction economy will double.
To download the full 13-page report, follow this link http://www.constructingthefuture.com
Caterpillar is not resting on what made it successful in the past anymore and probably for good reason. The equipment manufacturing giant recently bought Yard Club, a heavy construction equipment sharing company, looking to take advantage of the recently popularized sharing economy. Earlier this month, Caterpillar invested $2 million in Fastbrick Robotics, an Australian robotic technology company.
Augmented and Virtual Reality has always been designated for large headsets. Even with recent developments in the construction industry, like Microsoft Hololens and the DAQRI Smart Helmet, if you want to experience AR, you have to get used to wearing something you’re not used to around a job site. As cool as both of those technologies are, it seems that the ole trusty smartphones and tablets have been overlooked. A Danish BIM company has developed a smartphone and tablet application that leaves the headsets behind.
It’s pretty amazing all of the things that smartphones can do right now. While some wish phones would go back to “just making dang blasted phone calls, like the good ole days,” it’s clear that phone’s will always be more than that moving forward. Through apps and other attachments, phones can now turn into a thermal imagine camera, an x-ray vision scanner to see what’s behind walls, a laser measure, and now an augmented reality tape measure.
For many construction superintendents and project managers across the world, tablets are becoming one of the most important tools on the job site. They’re great for looking at plans, taking pictures, making notes, and running your favorite construction apps. Carrying a tablet does take up at least one of your hands, however, so it can be a hindrance if you need to help a co-worker lift material or climb a ladder.
Fiskars was first founded as a Finnish Ironworks company in 1649, making it one of the oldest companies I have heard of that is still going strong. Recently – relatively speaking - in 1967, Fiskars made a name for themselves with their orange handled scissors. Noted for their build quality, sharpness, and durability, these scissors quickly became an industry standard and a leader in the category. Since then, Fiskars has expanded into other areas of the home and outdoors. You may also recognize the name Gerber, as this is one of the brands Fiskars sells under.
Every now and then a new product comes along and you ask yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?!” The OVAL Fire Extinguisher is just that product. Architecture and interior design have been moving towards cleaner lines in their spaces. Foregone are the days of bulky protruding water fountains (bubblers for my northern friends) and fire extinguisher cabinets. Interior designers are looking for cleaner and sleeker interior spaces but the 10lb fire extinguishers and cabinets have not changed for quite some time. OVAL is about to change all that.
Do you own Bosch Cordless Power Tools? Is it time for a battery upgrade? Take a look at Bosch’s new CORE 18V batteries. They have gone in and completely revamped their 18V batteries! They are now smaller, lighter, more powerful, have a longer life, and allow for more cuts and drives. Bosch has been able to achieve all of these benefits while also delivering corded performance in high-load applications.
The 2017 Milwaukee Tool New Product Symposium (NPS) was held last week at Milwaukee’s headquarters and it proved to be a whirlwind of new products and information from the red brand. Over 80 new tools and accessories, which will be released throughout the remainder of 2017, were presented to dozens of media representatives, including construction magazines, YouTubers, Instagrammers, and your favorite construction blog (Construction Junkie, obviously).
After flooding our social media pages with Milwaukee information and gathering our thoughts from the event, we’ve come up with our 9 biggest takeaways from the event, in no particular order.
After recently announcing the release of a bunch of new Bluetooth enabled tools and products, as well as an inventory platform, DeWalt has jumped all-in on internet connected construction sites with the announcement of Construction Site WiFi. Construction sites, especially large complex sites, are becoming more and more reliant on internet connectivity to efficiently manage their projects. This is great news for all of you who count on a consistent internet connection to use programs like Procore, PlanGrid, and Bluebeam, among others, to communicate between different parties on the job site and in the office.