Apply new technology in construction and experience the seamless convergence of the physical and digital worlds, writes Paul Wallett, regional director, Middle East and India, Trimble Solutions
Modern construction projects today continue to take the spotlight as they exceed the industry’s greatest achievements from the last decade, equipped with a new set of engineering and architectural tools and software. Industry leaders are starting to grasp the potential of these digital innovations and are integrating them to the latest projects at a pace never seen before.
To sustain this momentum, many construction solution providers have taken steps to support and establish enhanced future collaborations and coordination with architects, project managers and engineers. They aim to help connect stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page all throughout the construction process to fast-track success.
The arrival of new technologies and construction processes such as 3D Constructible Building Information Modelling (BIM), 4D and 5D Construction Management, Mixed reality, Robotics, Cloud computing, and Internet of Things (IoT) help experts design and create structural marvels. By applying these technologies in construction, we can tangibly experience the seamless convergence of the physical and digital worlds.
Through these technological developments across the world, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, countries are starting to mobilize multibillion dollar projects in line with various country-specific initiatives.
Recent data shows that the value of the newly initiated projects in the GCC, reached USD 35.6 billion during the first quarter of 2021. At least USD 19 billion, or 54 per cent, of these projects are in Saudi Arabia, as the country ramps up efforts to achieve the goals set within the Saudi Vision 2030. Meanwhile, the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020 has been leading new tourism and hospitality projects, while public spending on infrastructure continues to contribute to the growth of the UAE’s construction market.
With the huge demand of these projects, construction companies are keen to implement ground-breaking innovations, which amongst others include digital document management systems and GPS tracking of manpower and materials to enhance project delivery.
In terms of data and design, many are now harnessing the power of augmented reality (AR) to automate measurements, modify visuals, and extract safety information provisions. Others use virtual design and construction (VDC) services offered by many leading construction solution providers in the region. These digital solutions play a fundamental role in reducing risks while optimizing schedules and budgets.
Some of the most iconic buildings such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest tower, provide an ideal example of how a highly ambitious and intricate skyscraper can be built using such advanced methodologies. Similarly, Museum of the Future stretches structural engineering to its limits and showcases the creativity of what is possible using innovative modeling technology.
Aside from these, we can expect more automation and digitalization to aid the more mechanical aspects of the construction operation in the following years. Major firms and contractors are already starting to acknowledge the efficiency of these new solutions and the additional safety that these provide to site operations.
For instance, on-site crews are being harnessed with sensor-equipped smart boots to warn in case of a possible collision with a construction vehicle. Others also use construction exoskeletons to provide additional power and support during routine movements like bending and lifting.
Furthermore, as sustainability gains traction in the construction industry, the need for the rollout of relevant technologies has grown. In the Middle East, green technology is seeing mass adoption, especially because it lowers carbon footprint and offers energy-saving options. Companies that are using 3D modeling computer programs are well-positioned to design better performing buildings while organizations utilizing software programs for accurate analysis and communication can achieve efficient waste management including reduced waste in design and production, better on-site collaboration and new opportunities to improve sustainability.
The construction industry has always sought cost-effective and sustainable solutions due to its competitive business environment. At every stage of the project, construction managers and engineers need to implement innovative systems and methodologies that help them achieve every demanding objective. The trend will continue to evolve and in the future newer technologies may be introduced. For now, these prevailing applications are helping the industry sustain its contributions to building a more robust society and economy.