Exploring the limits of technology

Exploring the limits of technology

A futuristic industry is tantalizingly within reach – but many firms in the construction sector have yet to reach out and grasp the opportunity.

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Low angle view of crane

A futuristic industry is tantalizingly within reach – but many firms in the construction sector have yet to reach out and grasp the opportunity

It’s not exaggerating to say that we’re on the edge of a revolution in engineering and construction.

Drones are hovering around sites capturing highly detailed images, which are in turn transmitted – in real time – to intelligent, automated computer systems that may be able to react without human intervention. Unlike humans, drones can easily access remote or dangerous areas and will work 24/7. When you’re working on a tall building, for instance, this can save time and reduce the risk of accidents.

Then there are robots. These machines can carry out all manner of tasks like drilling and digging, laying bricks and building beams, increasing safety and accuracy. The work can be overseen from anywhere in the world thanks to remote monitoring. Add on 3D printing capability – enabling the creation of a vast array of complex designs that can shorten supply chain times and enable modular assembly – and it’s easy to understand why people are getting so excited.

The respondents to KPMG’s survey are embracing these various innovations to differing degrees, with remote monitoring the single most popular choice. A sizeable minority use drones, while a third say they are employing robots and automation.

According to an executive from an engineering and construction company: “The construction industry hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years but over the next 5 years the company expects big changes to make it more digital and modular. There will be full modeling before construction starts on-site and 3D printing for smaller projects. Technology will play a much greater role.”

A significant majority employs remote monitoring for projects sites. One of the executives participating in the survey says his firm is “installing GPS devices on equipment, [and] considering mobile devices with software integration for real-time reporting and less manual entry.”

Only a small proportion (17 percent) of respondents employs smart sensors to track the location of project and construction personnel on site.

To view the full survey findings, download the complete report.

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