Engineering and construction technology

A new age of engineering and construction technology

Our world is undergoing huge growth, with the population of urban areas increasing by 200,000 people per day, all of whom need affordable housing as well as social, transportation and utility infrastructure. Furthermore, there are environmental impacts which must be taken into consideration, with global warming becoming an increasing priority for many.

This is no small feat for the engineering and construction industry, which must continually innovate and expand to keep up with the growing demand and expectation of modern society. While it has taken some time, the engineering and construction sector finally seems ready to embrace the latest technological advancements, digitalisation and construction techniques that will aid in improving efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

From 3D scanning and printing, Building Information Modelling (BIM), autonomous equipment and advanced building materials, here are just a few areas within the engineering sector that are being rapidly transformed by new age tech.

Semi-automated construction equipment

As a growing number of processes in the construction industry are mechanised, machinery has acquired a central role and has proved to be a strong driver of productivity gains. Despite this, the construction industry has generally underutilised automation in the past.

This however is set to change, as new technologies in the digital space, including robotics, drones, low-cost sensors, remote operations and autonomous control systems, begin to make their way into the mainstream. Such advancements are expected to become enablers of innovation, with semi-automated equipment able to perform complex tasks when programmed by a skilled tech professional.

Analytics and data at the core of future growth

Acquiring accurate analytics and data is becoming a key consideration for construction and engineering companies in remaining competitive. When gathered and analysed correctly, a data and analytics strategy allows organisations to make well-informed decisions, rather than resort to guess work, which will ultimately address diminishing margins and increase productivity.

A thorough data and analytics strategy will provide companies with the ability to refine operations, address diminishing margins, provide next-generation client services and manage increasingly complex projects.

3D Printing Technology

While 3D printing is still in its early stages for the construction industry, it is thought that it will have significantly transformative effect in reducing costs and lowering waste, and is said to have productivity gains of up to 80% for some applications.

3D printing enables the creation of a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design model and is ideal for the construction industry based on three major factors; the variety of suitable materials (polymers, metals, mortar or concrete); the almost limitless freedom of design; and the ability to fabricate complex shapes onsite or offsite, flexibly and inexpensively. Despite this area still undergoing development, many companies are optimistic in this regard and point to other industries, such as aviation, where mass production of 3D-printed components is already common practice.

Cyber security

Cyber-attacks are not usually associated with the engineering and construction industry, however cybersecurity within the industry should be at the forefront of every employers mind. According to the 2017 SonicWall annual threat report, ransomware attacks — those that take over a system and do not return it until a ransom is paid — most frequently hit mechanical and industrial engineering (15%) and real estate companies (12%), taking out first and third position respectively out of the three top spots.

Ransomware is just one of the threats that can affect your business. Depending on the type of attack, the infected system can damage your clients’ systems, resulting in significant financial loss, as well as indirect losses that can be harder to quantify, such as reputation, loss of client confidence and loss of stakeholder confidence.

This demonstrates the importance of having a strong and well-managed cybersecurity strategy, implemented by industry professionals who are not only skilled I.T. professionals, but have a good understanding of the engineering and construction space.