In the age of smart devices and with sales reaching 2.4 billion units last year, industries across the world are using advanced technologies in order to implement innovative and forward-thinking business models and processes.
This idea appears to be no different in the construction industry.
Smart devices are being used to revolutionise the way the construction industry operates so that costs can be reduced, lead-times are reduced and more thorough plans are created from the beginning of a construction project to the end of it.
Together with Nifty Lift, providers of raised access work platforms for the construction sector, we explore how the industry is using smart devices in order to make their processes more efficient.
Onsite tablet access
The fact that tablet devices are mobile, is in itself, an added benefit of having this type of technology whenever it is required. This is because changes within the production plan can be made instantaneously, as and when they happen, so that projects are always up to date in real-time, negating the need to go back to a desktop computer at the end of the day to record changes.
Onsite the engineers can use their tablets to track digital models of buildings and infrastructural developments as they are being built. In this way, more specific scrutiny can be placed on how a project is progressing throughout the project plan, so that engineers can track exactly when and if construction has gone wrong at any point during the process. What this means is that blockages can be spotted within the project before they actually occur, so that all processes are streamlined and accommodated for so that the project is completed on time.
Parametric modelling (or parametric design)
Parameters, a series of pre-programmed rules or algorithms, parametric modelling is the creation of a digital model that is generated through a series of internal logic arguments, as opposed to the manual manipulation of data within a model.
Within the whole design, the model creates internal relationships between the parts that create the whole. An example is; an internal rule may be that walls begin at floor level and end at the underside of the ceiling; if the floor and ceiling height is then changed, the walls within the model will change to fit the new dimensions. This is useful for engineers, because whenever something changes within the design model, all other changes that follow are calculated through the internal algorithms of the program.
One of the best examples of this type of software was when engineers used it to construct the Shanghai Tower. Specifically, the Grasshopper modelling tool was used to define the relationship between the form of the building and the wind loads that the building could withstand.
DFMA: design for manufacturing and assembly techniques
As a form of manufacturing that helps to quicken the overall production process, DFMA techniques are used to ease manufacturing through the collection and allocation of parts that will complete the finished project after its construction.
In this way, various components and materials within a project can be assigned unique manufacturing and installation dates within a project, thus establishing accurate time-scales for the completion of a project.
By using these technologies on smart devices, MEP components (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) can be installed during the project, as opposed to the end, so that more parts components can be installed at the same time – helping to reduce lead-times for the overall project.
To help reduce risks and the added cost of mistakes within a project, offsite manufacturing could be used to test aspects of a building or infrastructural project before they are brought onsite. By using status reporting within this process, this allows site managers/engineers to establish exactly when already constructed parts of the project needs to be brought onsite.
So that the construction industry can operate efficiently, smart devices and technologies within the planning and implementation stages are changing the way buildings are being designed and constructed for the benefit of the industry. To help reduce lead-times and improve efficiencies, it’s clear that the future of construction lies within the smart device.