Blockchain: How can it change construction?
We explore the rise and concept on blockchain technology in the construction industry, and how it can transform the industry
Blockchain has been floating around since the early 90’s, but it has only begun to gain traction in the past decade. Many industries are slowly beginning to harness the technology which is having a possible impact despite the potential challenges that comes with it.
The construction industry has traditionally been much slower at utilising new technologies and processes, and with blockchain technology this is no exception. This is due to the fact that the industry is very ‘hands-on’ rather than digitally-focused.
Despite the above, there are many useful functions blockchain technology can bring to the industry which can help boost productivity and efficiency.
An article, published by Harvard Business Review, highlighted some of the ways blockchain could transform the construction industry.
Automating the contractual processes and paperwork would be of great assistance to free up money and valuable resources, whilst increasing the speed and efficiency of the overall project delivery. This can be achieved by utilising blockchain.
A solid example of blockchain in the construction industry in action is a large-scale development project in Amsterdam, led by HerenBouw which is based in the city.
Marc Minnee, Propulsion Consulting Founder, revealed how HerenBouw harnessed the power of blockchain which enabled increasing efficiency surrounding its building development life cycle.
Minnee said: “Blockchain provides a platform for clearly cascading work products down the chain and holding everyone accountable for completing key tasks”.
He then went on to say: “Stakeholders have a clear and evenly distributed incentive to register these facts on-chain: Either you won’t get what you ordered or you won’t get paid. “
Stakeholders spend more time discussing creative design and building method options”.
There are many more benefits to using blockchain in the industry by adopting smart contracts. These can assist in the identification of accountabilities whilst sparking milestone-based payments in order to assist in automating agreements.
Blockchain-based apps have the potential to manage workflow through a communal project management dashboard, whilst a distributed ledger could record every time of building input and assets which could result in time savings and cost reduction.
SafeAI attracts $21m funding as SmartMix AI tool launches
SafeAI is driving the transformation of the mining and construction industries through connected, autonomous sites. With chronic labour shortages, unsafe working conditions and frequent project delays, these industries are in a unique position to benefit from autonomy.
Unlike on-road applications of the technology, autonomous heavy equipment operates in controlled environments, which means companies can create smarter, safer, more productive project sites today that create meaningful, near-term impact.
“We are at a tipping point for autonomous heavy equipment,” said Bibhrajit Halder, founder and CEO at SafeAI. “We’ve proven that autonomy makes work sites significantly safer and more productive; now, we are on the cusp of mass adoption. Together with our valued partners, customers and investors, we’re poised to deploy autonomy in off-road industries like construction and mining, at scale, to rethink the way heavy industry operates.”
Heavy industry is a large, growing global market, ripe for disruption. The construction equipment market alone is valued at $140 billion, and expected to increase to $175 billion by 2025; construction-related spending accounts for a staggering 13% of global GDP, or $11.5 trillion.
But there remains significant room for growth; in construction alone, higher productivity could create an estimated $1.6 trillion in additional value. With just 25% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 in existence today, autonomy can bridge this productivity gap with greater efficiency and 24/7 operations. SafeAI is at the forefront of this transformation.
“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in the autonomy space today; but it’s clear the biggest opportunity for this technology is off-road,” said Mark Blackwell, General Partner at Builders VC. “With its industry-leading autonomous software, scalable retrofit approach and partner ecosystem, SafeAI is uniquely poised to capitalize on this opportunity. We’re proud to support the company in its next chapter of growth as demand for autonomous heavy equipment continues to skyrocket.”
New investors LTC, DG Ventures, MACA and Vimson Group, and existing investors Autotech Ventures, Brick and Mortar Ventures, Embark Ventures, Monta Vista Capital and Obayashi Corporation, also participated in the round. The funding comes on the heels of a year of rapid growth for SafeAI, including new partnerships with Obayashi, Goodyear and Macnica, and expansion into Australia’s booming mining market.
A pilot program with Obayashi Corporation last November saw a Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck autonomously complete a vital on-site function and carry out load-haul-dump cycles.
Giatec debuts SmartMix AI tool
Giatec has debuted what it claims is the world's first concrete AI tool for producers, SmartMix. The web-based AI tool allows producers to optimise concrete ingredient proportions, reduce cement usage, and predict the performance of their mixes while still meeting project specifications.
Giatec believes this tool will lower Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from concrete production by 400 million tons annually, the equivalent of taking 110 million cars off the road.
SmartMix builds on Giatec's first AI software program Roxi, which has collected millions of data points from the company's SmartRock wireless concrete sensors across 8,000 projects and 80 countries.
Giatec's head of research and development, Andrew Fahim, said the new technologies are going to pave the path forward for the industry to meet increasing infrastructure demands.