Typically, progress tracking on a job site involves a supervisor walking around a job site with a note pad and a camera, but technology is slowly changing the way that process is being done. Drones have been all the rage in construction recently and a team of contractors and software developers have made them an ultra-powerful tool, but some workers are not too thrilled about it.
The Sacramento Kings are building a brand new $477 million basketball arena, the Golden 1 Center, that is set to open in the Fall of 2016. Deadlines in any project are extremely important, but missing a deadline and messing with a sports team’s arena opening has to be near the top of the list for the worst deadline to miss. That is one of the reasons that Turner Construction is using a new drone technology developed by a team of professors from the University of Illinois (U of I).
The software takes video from drones flying above the construction site, converts it to a three-dimensional model, and compares that model to the computerized schedule. This then allows the construction team to analyze where their project is falling behind. With a site as big as this stadium construction, it can be extremely easy to not realize a delay until it’s too late. The video on this project is being captured by ImageInFlight, who specializes in drone video.
Mani Golparvar-Fard, one of the software developers and assistant professor of Civil Engineering at U of I, told MIT Technology Review, “We highlight at-risk locations on a site, where the probability of having an issue is really high. We can understand why deviations are happening, and we can see where efficiency improvements are made.”
Unsurprisingly, many of the construction workers on site are a little weary of being watched so closely, fearing their privacy and being required to work even longer hours to keep pace. The U of I development team is also currently working on another platform that would monitor individual workers and their tasks even more closely. That technology is still in testing.
Below is the most recent drone footage of the brand new area, which shows the first roof truss being installed:
New Boss on Construction Sites Is a Drone | MIT Technology Review
3D printing has had to overcome plenty of obstacles, including materials, mobility, weather, and height. Slowly, but surely, technology companies are beginning to overcome these challenges. A 400 square foot house was recently printed in concrete on-site, in less than 24 hours and in freezing temperatures. Other companies are working on perfecting 3D printed steel for pedestrian bridges. Height limitations seem to be the hardest problem to solve, however.
Remote sites have extreme challenges, like finding enough staff to work the jobs and being able to get materials to the site. Large mining operations have turned to self-driving dump trucks, like this 320 Ton mega machine, for a few years now. But, Lockheed Martin, a giant in the world of global security and aerospace, has a different solution for remote sites.
3D printing technology faces major issues when it is required to leave the shelter of a warehouse and step foot on a construction job site. 3D printers are extremely large, heavy, and rely on precise calibration for accuracy. Even the first 3D printed office building in Dubai, which was completed last year, had to actually have its components printed off site and assembled on site. But, Apis Cor, a 3D printing company, believes it has created the technology to print a full structure completely on site.
Road construction is rarely an ideal place for many things. It’s unsafe for workers, it causes traffic issues, and nearby businesses can suffer from it. One more thing can be added to the list, as self-driving cars are also having a hard time navigating construction zones, as well.
In the construction world, 3D printing technology has traditionally focused on buildings and other static structures, like this 3D printed bridge in Madrid, Spain. Not anymore, though, as the world’s first 3D printed excavator was officially unveiled to the attendees at last week’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas.
Augmented reality on construction job sites has been a focus of several technology companies in recent years. As of now the clear leaders in the category have been the DAQRI smart helmet and glasses and the MIcrosoft Hololens. Early this year, DAQRI introduced their new smart glasses, which are the lighter and more mobile version of their fully protective smart hard hat. The new DAQRI product is a clear competitor for Microsoft’s Hololens, which is also a smart headset product. Backed by the powerful construction technology company Trimble and in a partnership with the University of Cambridge, the Hololens is getting tested with 2 new concepts specifically for the construction industry: Automated Progress Monitoring and Automated Bridge Damage Detection.
The concept of a bubble has surprisingly inspired many designers within the construction industry in recent years. There’s the inflatable bubble building in Shanghai that is supposed to help air and light quality, the inflatable tunnel that will protect pedestrians and business during road construction in Canada, and even a solar cell that was created to be lighter than a soap bubble. We can now add Binishells to our list.
Construction workers work long hours in some pretty rough exterior conditions a lot of the time and there’s no doubt that fatigue is a major factor in job site accidents. In recent years, we’ve seen a few technological advances that will either reduce worker fatigue or sense it, including robotic attachments, lighter and less vibratory power tools, and camera systems on CAT machines that sense when drivers are closing their eyes too much. Recently, a company out of Australia has been developing a smart hard hat that sensors when mental fatigue has set in.
3D printed construction has been on top of the news the past few years, but we have yet to truly see many real world applications of the process. Last year, Dubai unveiled a completed 3D printed office building, which they say was built in only 19 days, but news has been pretty slow until the world’s first 3D printed bridge was completed recently.