Not long ago, the concept of remote construction might’ve sounded like science fiction to even the most technologically progressive companies. However, even though the digitization process of construction still faces hurdles, the sector is growing an increasing appetite for digital tools to boost efficiency.
Especially as the COVID-19 outbreak introduced pressing needs for all sectors and societies to minimize touch and contact, many executives are pondering: Can construction be done remotely? From planning to installation, many inevitable aspects of construction need to happen on-site. That said, it’s possible to automate and digitally outsource significant parts of the construction work.
While tools to erect buildings without stepping into a site aren’t yet a reality, the four following technologies enable remote construction.
1. Virtual & Augmented Reality
Both VR and AR have roots in the gaming world. However, they recently became an indispensable component of the planning, design, and construction industries. These game-changing tools that can enable remote construction by allowing virtual site visits and inspections.
By combining these technologies with a 3D camera, executives can stream a 360-degree video in real-time. This way, responsible parties can monitor the site without being there.
Moreover, VR and AR tools can improve remote meeting experiences, deliver practical training off-site, and decrease the need for future modifications. They can further assist the sales and marketing teams thanks to their advanced features mimicking a real-life tour.
2. 3D Printing
Many technologically progressive construction firms and individual enthusiasts have already been 3D-printing their buildings — and even homes. While the 3D-printed buildings are unlikely to become mainstream soon, 3D printing technologies provide immense benefits to the process of remote construction.
They boost and optimize the prefabrication, thus dramatically cutting the time required at a construction site. With optimal prefabrication, a house can take as little as a few hours to assemble instead of months.
While drones add value to dozens of industries, construction is the fastest growing adapter of this technology. They provide accurate aerial insight into the sites, which can save time and costs. Furthermore, as the industry is embracing drones, innovators are developing more sophisticated drones for specific on-site purposes.
For instance, many executives believe painter drones will be a more common sight on job sites. Since they can be controlled via an app, these drones will allow painters to do their jobs with a mobile phone in their hands instead of a brush.
Much like drones, remote-controlled robots are powerful tools to automate construction. “Construction robots may be involved in specific tasks, such as bricklaying, painting, loading, and bulldozing,” said Rian Whitton, an analyst at ABI Research. Remote construction also makes the entire process a safer one with the help of robots.
[Construction robots] help to protect workers from a hazardous working environment, reduce workplace injuries, and address labor shortages.Rian Whitton, analyst at ABI Research.
A team of scientists from Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) recently even prototyped a robot construction worker.
While robots and other technologies are unlikely to replace the human resources of the industry any time soon, they’re poised to empower remote construction — and make it better, safer, and more efficient.