Townmore’s Top 5 Construction Tech Picks for a New Decade
1. Construction software and project management tools
After decades of very little process innovation and growing criticism, there has been a whole raft of so-called efficiency tools in recent years, dedicated to the construction industry. A satisfying number of these new tools have been developed by Irish-based startups. Real-time collaboration software is fast becoming a best practice for modern building companies, however, the use of this is not as widespread across Irish contractors as it needs to be in 2020. While this might not seem like a worthy tech pick for a new generation of Irish construction teams, reliable, real-time, collaboration software is the most important first step for many firms as it facilitates the digital record-keeping for construction projects from start to finish.
Technology is transforming modern construction and the team at Townmore is leading the charge. BIM, or building information modelling, is an intelligent 3D model-based process. It allows project stakeholders to efficiently plan, design, construct and sustainably manage buildings over the entire lifecycle of the building. It has already reached tipping point (15%+) across Irish design and build teams. In the UK, BIM became mandatory on all PPP projects by 2017 (no timeline for this on Irish PPP projects). The use of BIM became mandatory on all Townmore projects from Q3 2019; this required heavy investment in hardware, software and training for all staff and subcontractors on site, so we are well prepared for 2020 upskilling.
3. MMC (in particular, Modular and Offsite Construction)
Like every forward-thinking construction contractor, Townmore has included MMC options in all design and build proposals in recent years. Given the persistent housing crisis here in Ireland, chronic undersupply of rental property and strong demand for office space within the capital, rapid build and more certain programme delivery options are appealing for construction project clients. Irish offsite construction manufacturers are now offering certified building systems to deliver buildings up to 10 storeys – this is opening up a whole new era of taller buildings in Ireland, using MMC techniques.
4. Data (given the AI treatment)
In reality, the construction industry has always generated more data than it knows what to do with. As we kickstart a new decade of construction, poor planning, project management, miscalculations/cost overruns etc are fast becoming unacceptable. For the first time, predictive analytics are currently being applied en masse to construction data in Ireland (Construction Data 2020 pilot project). Predictive analytics provides forecasting abilities that have the potential to transform construction by facilitating more accurate costings, avoiding failure triggers and helping to eliminate waste. Specific outcomes of AI, or artificial intelligence, to the data include: more accurate simulation prior to construction, design issue prediction, identification and analysis of specific construction project risks, irrespective of the level of complexity involved.
Whereas so-called ‘green technologies’ are products/services that facilitate a carbon-neutral building footprint, sustainability goes to the core of the design and build strategies of the project, with due consideration for the lifecycle of end building. This encompasses the most efficient use of resources, including natural light, in order to reduce ongoing running costs and waste. Compliance with increasingly onerous legislation and reducing overall environmental impact are the primary considerations of sustainability design teams and we know that this legislation is likely to become more burdensome over the next decade.
The above doesn’t touch on 3D printing, robotics, emerging construction safety technologies and a whole host of immersive technologies (including virtual and augmented reality). As a growing (and margin-conscious) construction contractor we need to strike a balance between useful innovation and novelty – what industry innovations would make your top 5?