Construction Technology Ellis Fox Blog

How is technology helping support construction?

As the UK starts to navigate its second lockdown, businesses have two primary concerns: safety and productivity. Most were just starting to gain momentum again after the initial lock down in March and are of the mindset that they’re not going to be slowing down or shutting down. They can’t afford to. They’re simply finding ways to work smarter and leverage the resources they have, both human and technological.

Most people are now comfortable working from home, and finding ways to balance work and home life in a way that ensures they stay productive. The old 9 to 5 mindset is no longer applicable as long as the work gets done and staff can remain safe.  Companies have had to become more flexible and more accommodating. And project management apps and tech such as BIM are helping teams stay connected and projects coordinated. But what about those not able to work from home? How is technology supporting safety and productivity?

In the UK a consortium of industry partners has recently been awarded a share of government funding to roll out on-site experiments with drones to support site management and safety. The drones will be piloted off-site but be able to capture aerial data, access close-quarter and normally inaccessible areas on site. The idea is to be able to support site safety efforts by providing technology and tools that co-ordinate on and off-site activities. The advanced drone system has been in development since 2017. Partners on the project include Vodafone, NAT’s, Terra Drone, Atkins, sees. ai and Skanska. Through this partnership, the project aims to roll out implementation on sites such as HS2.

As digital transformation accelerates, we may see a greater adoption of AI technology.  If there’s one thing that AI is incredibly good at its sorting through millions of pieces of information in a very short time period to find what’s relevant. Applied to construction and site safety, and using the data collected, AI solutions can search for deviations from plan or faults that could result in structural damage. Getting this information early on in the construction process can help save costs and improve site safety.

With these emerging technologies, what is becoming apparent is the need to connect the dots between various role players, technologies and decision makers. With a great deal of work shifting to modular and off-site construction, having technology that helps with more effective project management is going to be the way forward.