Building Information Modelling (BIM) was once the most advanced technology being employed on our projects. But these days, innovative technologies are rapidly evolving and changing the construction landscape.
In Hong Kong, the Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre (CITAC) of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) was recently opened at the end of 2017 to showcase innovative techniques and technologies that could enhance productivity, sustainability and safety in the Hong Kong construction industry. Here’s a brief snapshot of some of the innovations you might see at CITAC.
The Industry of the Future
Previously reserved for only the largest megaprojects, virtual reality is now becoming more widely used. The benefits of examining completed projects in virtual model to rectify errors before they are found on site are obvious, but it also now being used for planning programmes and budgets (4D and 5D BIM) as well as staff training.
Wearable technology is on the increase as well, with products such as Triax belt clips that can automatically detect when and where a worker has fallen to get help to them quickly, or smart PPE such as helmets and belts that monitor workers. Equipment tags are also being employed to detect workers near plant and machinery and prevent unauthorised operation.
Zero-G arms are on display at CITAC, which help workers operate heavy tools with ease and reduce the risk of occupational safety injuries. Similarly, an exoskeleton suit can help workers lift loads and reduce back strain.
Artificial Intelligence and The Internet of Things (IoT)
While drones are becoming more widely used, some are now incorporating machine learning to gather and analyse information from job sites. Machines can scan photos and videos for safety risks, track completion of milestones, update as-built drawings, and monitor quality.
Data analytics has been a massive development in the IT industry and is beginning to reach construction. Using predictive analytics tools, companies can identify their biggest project risks and the reasons why they might occur, to address them before they happen.
Real-time monitoring using IoT sensors is already in use across Hong Kong. However, by incorporating this technology into smart buildings and teaming it with machine learning and predictive analytics the sensors can be used for improving energy efficiency.
Prefabrication has been touted as one way to address Hong Kong’s housing shortage, with two trials agreed at the Science Technology Park and the University of Hong Kong. In fact, a Chinese company erected a 57-storey skyscraper in 19 days in central China. CITAC is displaying some of the modular construction units that have been developed to incorporate structural, mechanical, and electrical components, as well as all finishes.
Many 3D printed materials lack substantial structural strength, which is constraining their use within construction. However, in response companies are developing large-scale industrial printers for metal and concrete, including an Israeli/Chinese company who have developed a 3D metal and ceramic jetting system.
Robotics and Machines
In CITAC’s “Gizmo Corner”, you’ll find robots such as the IAQ Disinfection Robot which can sweep, disinfect, and inspect air ducts autonomously. They also have a Service Robot on display which is used to repair exterior building walls remotely. For hand tools, there is a rebar tying machine to make rebar installation easier for operatives.
Innovations such as these are rapidly being widely adopted across construction, and soon these technologies will be part of our every day working environment. While the digital revolution will create jobs that as yet don’t exist, if you are interested in the latest construction technology roles then sign up for our job alerts.
And if you want to be part of shaping the future of construction right now, we are currently looking for a Technical Director for Innovative Construction Technologies in Hong Kong. If you are passionate about identifying, promoting, and facilitating the adoption of advanced technologies in construction, please get in touch.
Recruitment Director, Hong Kong
I am responsible for the recruitment business in Hong Kong, Asia, and the Middle East. I was a civil engineer and project manager for 15 years before becoming a construction industry recruiter in 2004. I am based in the Hong Kong office and excel at placing professionals in engineering, project management, planning and HSEQ/risk.
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