The construction does not escape the processes of digital transformation that is taking place in other sectors. After what has been the boom of Industry 4.0, it has already begun to talk about Construction 4.0, an unstoppable trend, which leads to achieve the highest levels of quality and efficiency. Not in vain, some studies indicate that in the last two decades, Construction has barely increased its productivity rate, while Industry has done so by 200%.
Thus, it is a paradigm shift that, according to some experts, could bring the productivity of the sector multiplied by 5 or even by 10. Two of the great endemic evils in the sector that could be tackled are the deviations of objectives both in terms of time and costs of works.
What is Construction 4.0? The first thing we have to understand is that it is not a mere software update; goes much further, using emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or the Internet of Things (IoT), among others. The revolution starts from the architecture studios themselves, where professionals will count on systems capable of calculating more complex structures.
Moreover, the robotization of certain tasks will also be one of the great novelties in the coming years, avoiding people the hardest or most dangerous jobs. Also, the autonomous robots could analyze the state of the work, comparing if it corresponds with the plans of the Architect that has loaded in its system.
BIM, IA and big data
In this context, the BIM (Building Information Modeling) methodology becomes particularly important, which represents a qualitative leap with respect to 2D or 3D modeling of CAD programs. BIM stands over the modeling and interaction with intelligent objects that become part of the constructive process. In other words, what is attempted with BIM is to unify all the information generated around the project in a single model.
What is the use of this? Well, any change that has to be made can be carried out in a generalized manner. In the end, what you get is a detailed digital model of the construction project, closely linked to the benefits of AI.
Independent consultants like McKinsey underscore the potential of this AI, deriving in improvements not only in planning, but also in automatic analysis using image and video algorithms to identify structural security problems or even breaches of occupational risk prevention, and correct them through training courses.
The AI, combined with the massive data processing (big data) in real time, can contribute to cut costs, avoid problems of disorganization (from the delay in the arrival of materials to bottlenecks in the work that generate inactivity) and prioritize preventive maintenance.
3D printing will be another of the leading roles in Construction, once its current limitations have been overcome. In China, experiences have already been documented in which a company commercializes technology with which it is possible to build up to ten homes in a single day at a cost of 4,000 euros each.
From Blues Simon Group we do not conceive the industrialization of construction at this level, because each of our projects is unique and of an exclusive quality, but we do observe very closely the benefits that 3D printing can bring with it in terms of certain materials or specific pieces.
The training is crucial
The lack of qualified personnel is, without a doubt, one of the greatest threats to this process of digital transformation. Blues Simon Group takes special care of this requalification of workers within their schemes of continuous training.
The best analyst of the data obtained by a robot or by the sensors distributed throughout the worksite and processed by big data is the worker, who has been developing all his activity on worksite. For this reason, it is towards these employees that the training efforts have to be redoubled.
Seeing operators with augmented reality helmets in the worksite is not something that is outlandish, being much closer than we think. The technology is there, it only needs to be applied after having provided adequate training. That will also be one of the keys to success.