There’s a building boom coming. That’s the conclusion published by Growth in the construction industry is expected to increase by 8.8 percent this year to 1.35 million dollars. That figure is expected to rise to 1.65 million by 2026. Continued low interest rates, government funding of public works like bridge repair, and online business demand for warehouse space, are just some of the reasons fueling this welcomed surge. In response, the construction industry is turning to technological solutions, many either developed, refined, or both during the pandemic. This post covers several, shuffled into pre-construction, construction, and workers’ safety sections. 

Pre-Construction Contech


According to the Construction Industry Institute (CII), construction technology (contech) is defined as “the collection of innovative tools, machinery, modifications, software, etc. used during the construction phase of a project that enables advancement in field construction methods, including semi-automated and automated construction equipment.” Many analysts following the industry include pre-construction solutions like online bid boards and collaboration services with that definition.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) falls under this expanded definition. Simply, a BIM is a three-dimensional (3D) digital model of the upcoming project. All the major stakeholders in the construction project have access to it through their industrial panel PC. This allows everyone to plan out each phase of the project. Any inputs like delivery delays happen to the BIM in real time. Difficulties can thus be anticipated (and avoided), risks minimized or eliminated, and efficiency increased. 

Unsurprisingly, other 3D technologies work well with BIM. Virtual reality (VR) allows participants to take a virtual tour of the model as though they were there. That way, they can get a sense of dimensions and spatial placement one simply can’t get by looking at drawings, blueprints, or a digital image. Augmented reality (AR) comes later when construction is underway. With it, a project manager or contractor could walk through the real-world site and compare it to an overlay of the BIM model. Differences between the two can be noted and relayed to all the stakeholders for resolution.

Drones for Survey

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, have a lot of uses in the construction industry. During the pre-construction stage, they excel in mapping. Drones can be used to survey a site much more quickly than people, especially large swaths of land. This not only saves on time but in costs. Also, they can map the tops of buildings, along a busy highway, and other places not easily done through traditional methods.

Construction Contech

Construction is a time-intensive process. The steps for a new residential home, for example, includes preparation of the construction site by contractors, pouring the foundation, setting up the house frame, installing fixtures like pipes and wires, putting in the insulation, and more. There’s also a lot of labor involved. This adds both expense and time. To speed things up as well as reduce costs,  the construction industry has developed two additional techniques to get that new building up and running. 

Offsite Construction

Offsite construction, as the name implies, is when the project is done at a factory then transported to the desired location. 

Two methods are available. In modular construction, the rooms are built, transported, and assembled at the site. In prefabricated (prefab) construction, parts of the building like the door and window assemblies are first built in the factory, then transported to the site to be put together. Both methods take less time than traditional wood-frame building, reduce waste, while keeping the factory workers busy. 

3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing Construction

Build a new building layer by layer? What a concept. But that, in essence, is what 3D printing does in the construction industry. More formally known as additive manufacturing, this form of construction brings the large-scale “printer” and mixer to the site. After the foundation has been properly prepared, the printer’s extendable arm, or nozzle, applies the building materials from the mixer to print the home in thin layers. The process is guided by software from an industrial tablet and can be as simple or as elaborate as desired. Small and large residential homes, schools, and office buildings have been printed using this technique. Advantages include lower costs for materials, far less labor, and faster construction time. 

Worker Safety Contech

Construction continues to be one of the most dangerous industries to work in. This is despite making up only 6 percent of the US labor force. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 1 in 5 work-related deaths in the private industry occur in construction, with falls accounting for 34 percent of those deaths. Such fatalities cost companies 5 billion a year in the US. 

Other causes include being struck by an object, caught between objects, and electrocution. Together, these four account for 60 percent of construction-related deaths. Total workplace injuries (fatal and non-fatal) is estimated to exceed $170 billion a year. 

Contech for safety is aimed at helping to change all this. 

Wearables to Save Lives

Construction wearables are technologies embedded into the worker’s apparel and personal protective equipment (PPE) like hard hats, gloves, safety vests and work boots. Examples of such wearable safety tech include:

  • Badges that allow geofencing which alert contractors that they have entered an area that is off-limits, restricted, or hazardous.  
  • Smart clothing called e-textiles that monitors vital signs like respiration rate, skin temperature, and even a worker’s posture. This can help determine if they are suffering from fatigue, intoxicated, or under the influence. 
  • Hard hats to detect carbon monoxide. This wearable has an oximeter resting against the worker’s forehead. There, it monitors their pulse to determine blood oxygen levels. If they experience headaches, confusion, dizziness, or other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, the hat quickly alerts the wearer and other personnel. 

Other contech safety wearables include smartwatches and goggles.

Exoskeletons for Support

Engineer is Testing a Futuristic Bionic Exoskeleton

Construction exoskeletons (exosuits) are wearables that look like something from a sci-fi aliens movie. Originally developed in rehabilitation programs, the construction industry is reviewing their use as a tool to reduce workplace injuries while simultaneously increasing efficiency from workers. Exosuits do so by providing extra support and power during repetitive movements like bending, lifting, and grabbing. 

There are several types. Back support exosuits use powered motors to reduce strain during lifting. Crouch support exosuits actually act like an attached chair for the worker, enabling them to work in a crouch position for long periods of time. And shoulder support exosuits redistribute weight from the workers’ shoulders, helpinging to prevent fatigue and injuries when performing constant overhead lifting.

Robots for Safety

Exosuit use in construction is not the only thing from sci-fi. Machines like bricklaying robots or rebar tying robots are already in use. They are good at doing simple, repetitive tasks, like lifting bricks, applying mortar, and setting them in place for example. This enables human contractors to focus their attention on other essential ﹘ and less injurious ﹘ work.

Other contech for safety include site sensors to monitor temperature, noise levels, dust, volatile organic compounds, and the like to limit exposure to workers. Finally, autonomous heavy equipment can perform excavation, grading, and sitework on their own using the technologies found in self-driving vehicles.

Closing Thoughts 

The construction industry is emerging from the pandemic and lockdown with growth in its future. Companies are turning to contech to help them manage in the pre-construction phase, during construction, and for their workers’ safety. Contact an expert at Cybernet if you’re interested in learning about the latest contech and its uses for your construction company.  

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