COVID-19 losses: How technology can help the industry recover
As the construction industry has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We explore ways it can recover through the power of technology.
When the COVID-19 outbreak begins to fade away, it will still leave a devastating effect on almost every industry around the world. One of the most badly hit industries is construction. Social distancing rules across numerous countries are having a big effect on construction sites, countless sites across the planet have had to either postpone or slow operations which has caused massive delays.
Although it is set to take a very long time for the industry to recover fully from the outbreak, next-gen technology may prove to be a very valuable resource in getting things back up and running again. It could enable many firms to recover from their COVID-19 losses in less time than what it could potentially be. Below, we explore four of the most critical areas where construction technology can be at the forefront of recovery in the construction industry.
Providing new projects
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed and highlighted how the lack of technological infrastructure across companies such as the United States has placed the industry in an un-ideal position. Nations need to embrace modern technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to move forward from the crisis. The use of these innovations will also prove useful for any future crises that may occur in years to come.
Most of the USA’s infrastructure is lacking and is in desperate need of reform. According to The American Society of Civil Engineers, most of it doesn’t even meet modern standards. Improved energy grids and 5G cell towers are all ways which can help create for jobs for the construction industry.
Filling in for absent workers
The economy is definitely not expected to bounce back to normal any time now, and it is expected that many industry workers will be slow to return. Luckily, robotics within industries such as Construction and Manufacturing is becoming more and more popular. The use of this technology could prove extremely useful when filling in for workers who remain absent.
Robots have the ability to perform almost 50% of construction job roles and they do not require a salary or get tired meaning, in the long run, companies could potentially see a reduction in cost compared to human workers, and increased efficiency thanks to the longer operating time of these robots.
Technology can not only fill in for absent construction workers but they also have the potential to help traditional workers increase their productivity through the use of technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis.
Construction has a history of being less productive in comparison to other industries and if productivity does not improve post-COVID-19, inefficiency will set in further which will mean the time it takes for the industry to recover will increase even further into the future.
Acquisition of equipment
A primary challenge of facing the industry amid a recession is the growing cost of equipment. This puts many companies in a state of dilemma as a lot of the modem construction equipment that can help drive efficiency and digital transformation can often be very expensive, which can be a big hurdle to jump for smaller firms.
Luckily, costs for equipment can be reduced by relying more on technology. More productive use of the internet can help firms find equipment at lower costs which would be hard to find in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. E-commerce has a range of advantages and this is just one of them.
Overall, it is evident that technology is leading the way in the construction industry and if it were not for innovative tech, the economic side-effects of COVID-19 would have been much worse. This trend needs to continue at a faster pace than ever before to ensure that the industry can recover as quickly as possible from the effects of the pandemic.
Check out the latest edition of Construction Global for more of the latest news and insights in the industry.
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.