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How Technology Will Transform Construction Site Management

This article is a part of the"Future of X" series: How technology will transform everyday objects


By Gaurav Nemade


My Dad is the Chief Architect of one of the states in India and his office handles 100+ government projects such as building schools, hospitals, courts buildings, etc. annually. Recently, I accompanied him to construction site visit where the work was already underway based on the blueprints provided by Dad’s office.

This was the first time I observed a construction site so closely. The biggest thing that struck me was the sheer number of components and variations involved in a construction work, especially when the projects are Rs 150+crores ($25M+ USD) and spread across different geographies. It’s nearly impossible to monitor each and everything at the construction site, which ideally is imperative in India given the profit-minded third-party contractors.

So, I laid down the following questions:

How could technology help?

What would be the next-generation construction site quality management technology solutions look like?

First to understand the problem since this is a slightly niche domain. Based on my observations, Dad’s purpose for such visits was to inspect the following 3 things:

  1. Design: The design inspections included things like re-evaluation of porch design in a college building to repositioning of air-conditioning switch which was a few inches off.
  2. Materials Used & their Quality: The materials inspections comprised of checking the gauge/quality of the glass being used or the material being used to fill the tiny gaps created by electrical supplies.
  3. Construction Quality: Lastly, the construction quality was an essential part of his site visits. Are the beams/columns properly reinforced? Is the floor finishing proper? and so on.

Based on these observations, I believe that technologies like Virtual Reality and Augment Reality (combined with few others) can be effective. Architectural design studios would become common practice in the future where VR/AR technologies will be installed. Following would be the tools of future that would aid construction quality management (product names are hypothetical and the ideas below are completely based on my personal thoughts):

1. AutoCAD VR

AutoCAD is the Adobe Photoshop of the architectural world. The present versions enable creation of 3D drawings that could be viewed on the computers. In the coming years, AutoCAD VR would enable Architects to create 360 degree drawings of the buildings. So instead of changing porch designs and glass facades after they have been constructed, the decision makers can get first-hand experience of the look and feel by spending time in Virtual Reality labs. They can also experiment with esoteric designs, which otherwise prove very costly. The first versions of such softwares are already in market and will continue to become ubiquitous in coming years.

Use case: design evaluations

2. Construction Materials VR Extension

With a few additional thousand dollars, the Architects of the future would be able to get extensions for material analyzer. With just a click of pointer, the viewer in the virtual reality can see the details of the materials used for a section. For instance, inquiring about glass facade would give information such as {glass gauge:12mm, manufacturer: Saint Gobain, tinted:yes, number of sheets: 4, supported by: aluminium columns………}.

Use case: information about materials used (or to be used)

3. ConstructCam — Cameras customized for Construction sites

ConstructCams would be a set of high-resolution portable cameras with highly specialized stands, drones, lights, etc. These will be used to capture the pictures/videos at the construction work at regular intervals and convert them into a 360 degree layout such that anyone sitting anywhere in the world can view the 360 view of the construction site.


Use case: Construction quality evaluation

4. ConstructAI Analyzer

The 360 degree images captured by the ConstructCams would be used to identify the material type that is actually used in the construction site and raise red flags in case of discrepancy. The ConstructAI Analyzer would be highly advanced ML-based system that can identify material type and quality based on high-resolution pictures.

Use case: Materials used and construction quality management

In summary, the market already has seen VR based architectural solutions and within few years I believe that products like ConstructCam, ConstructAI Analyzer and holistic repository of construction material would be available.

Exciting times ahead!

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