As infrastructure development is critical to the environmental and economic sustainability of every nation, governments are investing in infrastructure to support economic recovery, ensure energy security, and address climate change.
The stakes have never been higher for the firms responsible for delivering infrastructure solutions. Recent studies show the stress of an insufficient supply of skilled staff and trades are top concern for contractors in 2023. In the 2023 Construction Outlook survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and software company Sage, 83% of those surveyed said inexperienced skilled labor and labor shortages are impacting project performance and safety. The labor shortages combined with increasing project complexity, difficulties managing and using data, and rising inflation and material costs make construction projects even more challenging.
It is crucial for the construction industry to combat these challenges by exploiting new digital technology, enabling them to do more with less. Adopting digital delivery workflows unites the office—which is often remote due to the aftereffects of COVID—to the field with realtime model-based collaboration. Augmenting this single source of truth, a 4D/5D digital twin with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT (Internet of Things) live feeds throughout the asset lifecycle creates a smarter environment.
Here are some key trends and technologies shaping the future of construction digital delivery:
- VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality): These technologies allow stakeholders to visualize and experience a project before it is built, enabling better decision-making and reducing errors. In addition, VR/AR can be utilized for training, safety simulations, and remote collaboration.
- IoT: IoT devices and sensors are being used during construction to monitor and collect data, such as equipment performance, environmental conditions, and worker safety. When analyzed, the data can help optimize construction processes, detect issues, and enhance productivity.
- Cloud Computing and Collaboration Platforms: Cloud-based platforms enable realtime collaboration and data sharing among project teams. These platforms increase communication, improve document management, and ensure version control, leading to enhanced project coordination and reduced delays.
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning): AI and ML applications in construction are on the rise, analyzing vast amounts of data to identify patterns, optimize schedules, predict potential risks, and improve resource allocation as well as assist in quality control and safety monitoring on construction sites.
- Robotics and Automation: Robotics and automation are increasingly being used in construction to perform repetitive tasks, such as bricklaying, concrete pouring, and material handling, with greater speed and accuracy. Drones and 3D printers are also being employed to improve productivity and reduce costs.
- Sustainable and Green Technologies: The future of construction is focused on sustainability, such as green materials, energy-efficient designs, and smart building systems. Digital tools can help optimize energy consumption, waste management, and environmental impact throughout the project lifecycle.
These technological advancements will not only improve project performance, but will also modernize the construction industry to attract younger skilled talent. Construction software enables project teams to define and implement best practice processes—and to do that consistently across every project. Digitization means everyone can be on the same page at the same time and make improved decisions faster. It means resources can be optimized, risks are mitigated, and rework is avoided. Digitization also means teams spend more time working on value-added tasks. Ultimately, construction technology is helping firms to win projects, deliver them more efficiently, and improve their profitability.
About the Author
Beth Buerger – As the director of product management at Bentley Systems, Beth provides guidance and planning for Bentley’s construction solutions as well as helps users discover more efficient ways to construct their projects using digital technology.