Data analytics, IoT integration top drone specialist’s 2018 construction trends

Sources: Identified Technologies, Pittsburgh; CP staff

Identified Technologies, a specialist in drone-enabled gathering of data from construction materials production and job sites, projects a watershed year for technology adoption among contractors, suppliers and customers. Leading the firm’s Top Construction Technology Trends of 2018:

Internet of Things horizontal integration. While many people have a fitness tracker, few construction businesses are really using sensor-connected hardware. This year will see construction interests place sensors throughout (i.e, on trucks, boots, tablets, hats) the vertical and horizontal construction space, then aim to connect collected data to every other piece of data. Horizontal integration of IoT stands to make the construction job site as efficient as it has made the factory floor.

Data analytics for Big Data. Analytics is poised to help construction companies do business in a much more efficient way. Data capture has been around for a long time, but understanding all the data coming from sensors is key. Analytics and decision making is easier than ever before thanks to service providers equipped to help construction interests draw conclusions from data. Microsoft Business Intelligence is a good example of wide data analytics availability. Any company can use it to turn existing data sets into visualizations, stories, and reports.

Virtual reality + existing platforms. VR will go from a novelty to necessity in construction, a physical business that becomes more challenging if the planning, bidding and building team is not familiar with the site. This year will see VR incorporated into established software platforms, rather than existing in its own silo.

Artificial intelligence ubiquity. The ability for computers to learn and detect patterns is powerful. Machine learning is impacting construction project planning, fleet management, and structural damage assessment. What’s new in 2018 is how ubiquitous such learning will become, thanks especially to developers from institutions like Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, who are making artificial intelligence as easy to use as an iPhone.

Robots. Such devices are getting more sophisticated, and can be made quicker and more cheaply every year—as indicated in the 3D printed excavator that drew much attention during 2017 ConExpo-Con/Agg. In addition, driverless vehicles are starting to spread into the construction space, early examples including a Tesla electric truck and Built Robotics bulldozer. As technology improves, some of the core aspects of robotic “thinking” will get better as well. Major advances in Lidar will have a big impact on safety issues like remote sensing and collision avoidance. —