Historically, the UK construction industry has suffered from a tendency to be somewhat slow on the uptake of new technologies. However, this is more due to the fact that many construction projects take years to plan and complete. As a consequence, they can’t be paused and ripped up to utilise new methods halfway through.
Nevertheless, the most progressive within the UK construction sector is now beginning to harness the power of technology. This enables them to revolutionise the efficiency and productivity of construction projects at all stages of their lifecycle.
Within this article, we’ll consider some of the most game-changing technological advancements in the UK’s construction scene.
3D printing has been shaking up Britain’s construction industry for some time. It is, undoubtedly, well-suited to the design and manufacture of buildings, as it can create vital construction components or ‘print’ entire buildings to scale. In the Netherlands, a team within Eindhoven University of Technology confirmed it plans to build the “world’s first” habitable 3D printed house. Of course, building small-scale prototype properties are one thing, but being able to scale them successfully and safely is still a huge hurdle to overcome.
Of course, it’s true that 3D printing is an efficient and sustainable way of creating things. The Independent says 3D printing produces 30% less material waste and consumes fewer resources. It also gives architects and builders greater architectural freedom. Nevertheless, Seyed Ghaffer, assistant professor in civil engineering and environmental materials at Brunel University London, believes the UK construction sector is still 15 years from fully adopting 3D printing to construction, with scientists needing to fine-tune the printing system to handle the mass manufacture of building blocks.
BIM construction data
Back in 2016, the British government pursued a Building Information Modelling (BIM) initiative with the aim of modernising the nation’s construction sector. Today, BIM is being used by housebuilders and construction contractors. Maintaining projects within the scope of their budgets is one of the biggest priorities for any construction firm. BIM data can help to store and share data regarding the building life of a project. This will extend all the way through to the operations and maintenance phases.
Thanks to BIM data, project managers now know exactly where all the on-site services, fittings and fixtures are. They can also access all relevant certificates, installation dates and service intervals recorded with the original construction details.
Virtual reality (VR) is also helping to transform the industry. VR enables the visualisation of construction projects that are yet to even begin or are in the process of being finalised. Estate agents can now tour multiple buildings using VR headsets. They can also take advantage of the modelling technology connected to the headsets to decide upon aesthetics and potential refurbishments. This can now all be done without, therefore, even having to physically visit a construction site.
In fact, the advent of VR in construction has made it easier to adopt a more collaborative approach to design. This has been transforming the decision-making abilities of professionals throughout any construction project, big or small.