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
There’s no doubt that drones are the hot technology item for the construction industry. They allow you inspect your overall site more quickly, take aerial photos for marketing and documentation, measure tonnage and volume of on-site stockpiles, and even monitor employee productivity. Now, one company has designed a drone that can safely inspect structures for damage and detect cracks as small as .0039 inches wide (.1mm), when fitted with an HD camera.
One thing’s for sure about Milwaukee Tool, they aren’t satisfied with putting the same tools out year after year. They’re constantly improving age old classics and leading in the innovation of new tool solutions. Their latest announcement is a variation on their extremely popular line of M18 tools.
There’s no doubt that construction is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but there was a time when power tools and heavy construction machinery didn’t even exist. Even with those tools being absent on job sites, amazing structures were still built for thousands of years and with extremely intricate detail. SO how exactly did they do it? Tons of manpower and tons of time, something that many modern jobs don’t have the luxury of. Ignoring all of today’s modern conveniences, a group of French construction workers and other skilled tradesmen and women have teamed up to build an authentic 13th Century style castle.
Even though self-driving vehicles are just that, self-driving, they’ve always still had a seat for a driver and a steering wheel. Perhaps that means that designers were afraid that their technology wouldn’t work correctly. Or maybe, customers weren’t fully committed to only being able to use them as a self-driving vehicle. Well, it seems as if Komatsu isn’t worried about either of those things anymore, as they’ve officially unveiled their newest autonomous (self-driving) haulage vehicle this week at MINExpo, which was held in Las Vegas from September 26-28, 2016.
There’s no doubt that road work can be a huge inconvenience to drivers, but many times businesses in the route of the work can suffer more, even causing some to have to close permanently. While many projects around the country have been navigating towards pre-fabricated and modular construction to reduce the time workers actually spend on site, a project in Canada will be opting for the giant inflatable tunnel method.
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This 6-1/2” circular saw fits perfectly into the light duty category for circular saws. With the 4.0ah battery, 50 degree bevel, and 4000 rpm saw speed this model delivers performance comparable to many of the heavy duty saws on the market while still keeping a very reasonable price point.
Concrete, the construction industry’s building material of choice for hundreds of years, is an extremely tough and durable product. Being such a rigid product, concrete has inherently poor tensile strength, which is its ability to withstand being stretched, as opposed to compressing. This poor tensile strength leads to cracking, which eventually leads to failure. Scientists have been racing to discover the cure to concrete’s cracking problem for years, most notably Henk Jonkers’ bio-concrete, which uses microorganisms to “heal” cracked concrete.
The newest challengers to the material’s flexibility problem are a group of scientists from Nanyung Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. The team calls their product “ConFlexPave” and it not only bends under pressure, unlike concrete, it’s also thinner and maybe even stronger than its traditional brethren.
We have a lot of safety rules in construction and it’s practically impossible to monitor your job site for compliance of every single rule. To complicate matters, many rules are based upon exposure limits, especially when airborne particles are involved. OSHA recently reduced the allowable exposure limit of silica dust, which is found in concrete, stone, and brick, before additional PPE or engineering controls are required. This rule change has caused a lot of grief among construction industry groups, who called the rule technologically infeasible, because what contractor is really set up to measure when 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air is actually reached?
Twitter, the social media site that people seem to either love or hate, has made people more aware of their surroundings and can be a soundboard for controversy. For some companies, Twitter is used for a large part of their customer service program, responding to complaints within the 160 character limit. Now, it seems, contractors could potentially have a powerful watchdog looking over their shoulder, as long as the tweets land in the right hands.