Projections in Construction for 2021
In 2021, the construction industry will rely more and more on technological advances to streamline project management, cut costs and meet the challenges posed by Covid-19 requirements for worker safety.
One trend allowing for maintaining worker separation and simultaneously managing costs will be increased reliance on modular construction. Expected to reach a market worth of $157 billion by 2023, this burgeoning industry allows construction of building and home components off-site in large airy facilities with room for distancing workers. The components are then transported to their destination for assembly.
Since, by its very nature, modular construction requires fewer workers during the manufacturing and assembly processes, risk factors for transmitting the Covid-19 virus are reduced. Much of the “work” done during modular construction is performed with equipment such as ceiling cranes, conveyers and lifts. As a result, labor costs are reduced since fewer workers are necessary to move larger components while manufacturing is underway.
Another trend that is making more and more inroads into the construction industry is 3D printing. This technology involves the use of sophisticated printers in the manufacturing process to turn digital models into three-dimensional construction components by adding material a layer at a time. The end results are components of varying sizes that can be incorporated into construction of houses and buildings. Materials used in 3D printing include plastics and other composites in a variety of forms, wood and metal. In construction, a 3D printer can be attached to a robotic “arm” which helps build a project on-site.
Besides modular construction and 3D printing, other 2021 construction trends will be increased use of robots and drones. Through the use of drones, contractors can gain a more expansive view of a project from above. Through this “bird's eye view”, for example, project managers and others can obtain information about safety issues as well as estimate material and manpower needs. In addition, drones are very useful in providing photographs used to create detailed maps of a construction site and its surroundings.
As automation is adopted more and more in the construction industry, there will be an increased use of robots to perform activities such as welding, packing and dispensing materials. On the construction site, there will be an increased use of robotic “arms” to carry out tasks such as laying bricks, painting, loading and even bulldozing.
In the coming year and beyond, automation will continue to transform the construction industry. The emerging trends will allow for greater precision, time and financial savings and dramatically change how workers interact with each other as they encounter technology on-the-job.