BIM and Bob Dylan: The Role of Advancing Technology in the Construction Industry
If you do happen to ply your trade within the construction industry, then the phrase ‘BIM’ or ‘Building Information Modelling’ is probably familiar. The official cut-off date for the UK Government initiative for BIM Mandate implementation within the construction industry was 4th of April 2016. While it has been reported that the uptake of the mandate within the industry has been patchy and inconsistent, with an overall weak confidence level in the fundamental understanding of BIM, it is evident that the adoption has been sufficient to shift the industry’s culture and is generating enough traction that further progress within the construction industry has been achieved.
There is no denying it. As Bob Dylan prophesised so eloquently – “Change is a-coming”. In essence, over the last 4 years, the UK Government has embarked on a sector modernisation programme with the key targets of delivering capital savings and reducing carbon burden from the construction and operation of the built environment by 20%. Central to these objectives is the adoption of information-rich BIM technologies, protocols and collaborative processes that will enhance the efficiency at all stages of a project life-cycle.
UAVs, IoTs, AI, VR, 3D Printing, CGI, Aerial ABM etc. Feeling overwhelmed by the jargon? Not to worry, that was just a short list of abbreviations of concepts or technological developments that are currently being bandied about. In addition to the game-changer that is BIM, complementary technology is now advancing at such break-neck speed that the pace and scope of change in the industry continues to accelerate. It is most certain that these technologies will revolutionise the sector in ways previously unimaginable.
So, on the cusp of such a huge wave of change and amidst this climate of unpredictability, I hear you ask, “What developments are currently happening on ground?” “Where are we headed?” At the moment we are seeing increasing incidences of companies (e.g. Interserve Construction, Arup and Berkeley Homes) investing in and using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UVAs) and this could be a continuing trend – or become common practice – in the future.
Some advantages of using UAVs are; live data can be captured in high definition and also utilised in a host of diverse ways, including: 3D visualisations, monitoring progress, safety inspections, thermal imaging, asset assessment and inspect restricted access areas. Images can be conveyed live in high definition and potential issues can be assessed, with solutions agreed immediately. Safety assessments can also be carried out in real time, allowing updates to be provided instantaneously if required. This also helps to identify potential problem areas before they materialise into serious problems. UAVs are also being used to map out sites and provide accurate topological information. Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) can be used to provide 360 degree visuals, on top of the information captured by the UAV, to show a 3D visualisation of the development. Improving safety, reducing costs and risks and increasing the efficiency at all phases of a project.
Another exciting development in the world of construction is the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Virtual reality is as self-explanatory as the name suggests, it is the computer-generated simulation of a 3D image or environment, which can be interacted with in a seemingly real way by use of electronic equipment, such as Oculus Rift headsets, HTC Vive and even a £5 option from Google – the Google Cardboard.
The main advantage of VR is that it can assist in improving the design and building process of a project, allowing the client or end-user to immerse themselves in a virtual environment which simulates the finished building before a single brick has even been laid. The apparent benefits include being able to test a variety of factors and architectural designs without the need to build time-consuming 3D models or create 2D printed “mock ups”, saving time in the long run and increasing the likelihood of getting projects approved more quickly. It could also save huge sums of money by reducing the number of errors that need remedying during the construction phase, which as we all know can be extremely expensive and arduous. Furthermore, it is possible to simulate the construction process in a virtual environment to mirror real-life, allowing companies to tweak and perfect the way they build for greater productivity and to minimise hazardous surprise elements when undertaking a high-risk or challenging project.
You don’t need to put on a pair of VR goggles to see that these technologies will have a huge part to play in the future of construction. I believe it will be just a matter of time before they become more integrated into our building procedures and become a familiar sight as they gradually become more accessible on a mass market level.
Here at Cavendish Professionals we always strive to stay ahead of the curve, working with some of the most innovative companies in the Technical field who are always looking to break new ground. If you are a candidate seeking new opportunities or a company seeking new, talented personnel please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!