There is a great deal of innovation taking place in the construction sector and predictions are that 3D printing and off-site manufacturing may well one day overtake traditional construction methods. There are some that believe the industry could benefit a great deal if this were to take place sooner rather than later, but changing decades of traditional methods won’t be easy. Is there merit in exploring new technologies and methodologies and why are they important for construction?

Productivity and sustainability

Despite positive growth in the past year, the construction industry still maintains low profit margins. Productivity figures haven’t improved much and the industry as a whole is under pressure to accelerate efforts to achieve net-zero. Better infrastructure and more housing is needed, but how can construction do more if they’re constrained in so many ways?

It’s no surprise then that innovators are looking to change the industry. If they can find a way to use resources more sustainably, reduce operating costs and speed up productivity, everyone stands to gain. But will this argument be enough to convince industry leaders to adopt new technologies? Some projects are willing to take on the risk and lead the way.

Innovation aimed at making an impact

HS2 has already made headlines with its efforts to reduce carbon emissions during the construction by adopting hybrid hydrogen powered construction vehicles. Now they’re looking to use robotics and 3D printing technology to assemble hard to reach parts of the rail construction. It’s not just productivity that will benefit from the use of 3D printing and robotics technology. The concrete used in the 3D printing is to be reinforced with graphene which will further reduce the carbon emissions of the project.

The argument against implementation may be the cost of these new technologies. But weigh that against logistics costs of getting to hard to reach parts of construction. All the additional structural support that’s need to make the site safe and all the time that it takes to put those structures in place. While a robot is not dispensable, it can certainly be sent into places that are considered risky for humans and do the job effectively without requiring additional support.

This example highlights that there are many cost factors that can be impacted by innovative new technologies. If more main contractors start adopting them, it’s an opportunity to generate more positive productivity figures and get closer to achieving net-zero targets.