From top to bottom, here’s our High Five of the top ConTech innovations taking construction out of the dust and into the digital age ­from drone technology and data analytics for net-zero buildings, to IoT-based wearable tech. It’s all here!

The global construction industry is shaking off its digital laggard persona with construction technology (ConTech) now a multibillion dollar business. In fact, according to a McKinsey report, venture capital investment growth in ConTech has far outpaced venture capital investment overall – and that investment has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

The supply shocks and changing demands of COVID-19 have been the driving force behind this unrivalled growth in ConTech innovation and investment, as construction companies attempted to navigate the challenges of remote work and the need to stay connected. As the industry moves away from traditional on-site workfows, which rely on paper trails and outdated communication methods, the ConTech space will continue to play a significant role for years to come.

This next period of recovery rests on updated processes and techniques that can keep pace with changing demand – and this is where the ConTech space will outperform. Here’s our top five tech-driven changes from the most innovative ConTech companies creating a more connected construction industry:

  1. Global housing crisis drives demand for MMC technologies

Modern methods of construction (MMC), such as modular and offsite construction, are far from a new concept but uptake remained slow until the pandemic and global housing crisis placed it back in the spotlight. Experts now predict the modular construction market, with support from 3D printing and prefabrication technologies, will reach $106.22 billion by 2027. The new partnership between United Utilities and Changemaker 3D Ltd, which has moved forward the possibilities of 3D concrete printing technology to cut construction time by half and reduce the amount of labour by 55%, is just one of the way that ConTech companies are helping constructors address these new challenges.

  1. Get ready for lift off as drones become a constructor’s eyes and ears

Drone technology has taken off in recent years with the market projected to grow from USD 9.1 billion in 2021 to USD 33.6 billion by 2030 – and ConTech companies have focused efforts on this area since the outbreak of COVID-19. AI drones, such as the one developed by heliguy with zoom and thermal imagery capabilities, are now able to capture, transmit and analysis data without human intervention. This enables constructors to replace a once time-consuming, labour-intensive and high-risk process with a highly efficient, safe, and data-rich alternative that can double inspection efficiencies and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

  1. Data analytics lay the groundwork for net-zero buildings

But drone technology isn’t the only area where construction is becoming more sustainable, as all buildings must reach net-zero carbon by 2050 to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change – and this is where data analytics comes in. ConTech start-ups, such as Cove, are using SaaS platforms with data analysis to help constructors achieve net-zero buildings. Construction workers can now collect data to spot and correct areas of waste or assess the effectiveness of each new energy efficiency measure implemented to achieve green buildings.

  1. Remote construction operations just became a reality with AR

As the demand for hybrid operations increases, research indicates that AR will become a key component in most construction projects within 10 years. French start-up Viibe, which develops video assistance software for construction field operations such as on-demand information retrieval and safety monitoring, is a leading example of how ConTech is helping constructors deal with the challenges of project delivery during the pandemic. AR software provides a dynamic format for BIM and will play a key role in significantly improve productivity and prevent costly delays for many years to come.

  1. Wearable technology meets PPE

According to an IDC report, 60% of enterprises will invest heavily in digitalizing the employee experience throughout 2021 – and IoT-based solutions, such as wearable technology, are part of this development. For instance, ConTech start-up IoSite develops IoT-based smartwatches for worker health monitoring in remote settings. This technology senses a construction worker’s conditions and sends real-time updates, work progress, and regular health reports to managers during check-in and check-out. Similar innovations are key to creating more connected infrastructure and will help construction companies boost overall productivity through the project lifecycle.

Brick by brick: Next-generation connectivity starts with digital technologies

The construction industry has certainly come a long way on its digitization journey – and it is clear to see that ConTech will be a crucial driving force throughout. As construction companies navigate the new challenges of hybrid operations, ConTech innovations – from 3D printing to wearable tech – is bringing the traditional industry into the digital-first era, with business efficiencies, sustainability and employee welfare as top priorities!

Hannah Watson is PR Account Executive at IBA International.

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