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article imageHow technology is redefining the construction industry

By Karen Graham     Oct 9, 2017 in Technology
The construction industry is being reshaped by modern technological innovations. With updates and upgrades in computer-based platforms, designers, architects and engineers are now able to actually experience a project before it's built.
Construction workers today don't have to rely only on pages of blueprints and hand-held tools to transform raw materials into structures. Now, they can see and walk inside a project using virtual modeling and other technologies.
As a matter of Fact, a recent McKinsey research study found that with the construction sector using new digital tools, and doing so more often, the industry could boost productivity by 50 to 60 percent, generating $1.6 trillion in value, according to Construction Dive.
The Digital Construction Platform (DCP)  an automated construction system capable of customized on-s...
The Digital Construction Platform (DCP), an automated construction system capable of customized on-site fabrication of architectural-scale structures using real-time environmental data for process control.
Keating et al, Science Robotics 2017
Building information modeling (BIM)
Building Information modeling, or BIM, is one of the most useful tools in the construction field. BIM is a powerful drafting and collaboration software platform capable of creating the most highly accurate virtual building models seen so far. The terms 'Building Information Model' and 'Building Information Modeling' (including the acronym "BIM") did not become popularly used until 2002 when Autodesk released a white paper entitled "Building Information Modeling."
According to Torcon, a construction management firm in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, creating a BIM model is different from making a drawing in 2-D or 3-D CAD. "Using an architectural 3D design model as the core, a construction BIM model is created by incorporating all of the architectural, structural, and mechanical details of the building. Subcontractors are required to create their coordinated documents on the specified CAD software," says Torcan.
BIM model of a building
BIM model of a building
SpaceSaver
The great thing about a BIM project is its operational features. They go far beyond the planning and design phase, and also include the building life cycle, supporting processes including cost management, construction management, project management and facility operation. The model can also become a historical document for use in later expansions or renovations.
Basically, it can be said that by using BIM modeling, the entire project is built digitally, from start to finish, before a construction team lays the first beam. And unlike a one-dimensional blueprint, anyone on the construction team can have a virtual walk-through of a project, complete with details on every last component.
Even interior and exterior walls, windows and major appliances can be included in BIM modeling, as well as any and all plumbing fixtures. And knowing what the finished product, in this case, a building, looks like can prevent any costly mistakes before they ever happen. Using BIM also allows just about all of the layout and design decisions and changes to be made before construction even begins.
A picture released by the Serbian architecture studio Salt and Water shows a 3D model of a luxury re...
A picture released by the Serbian architecture studio Salt and Water shows a 3D model of a luxury resort to be constructed within a former wartime concentration camp on the Montenegrin island of Mamula, in the Adriatic sea
Salt and Water Studio/AFP
One drawback to the technology
Keep in mind that BIM is now one of the construction industry's most innovative and important tools. However, according to The Next Web, the "biggest threat to the utilization of BIM is the lack of skilled talent."
Jose Cruz is the Director, Virtual Design and Construction at New York-City-based UA Builders Group. UA Builders Group, formed in 2004, is a leader in the implementation of BIM technology, “While there is no shortage of BIM tools, there is, however, a severe shortage of skilled talent to utilize them," says Cruz.
In 2016, the most common problem cited by construction companies in the U.S. was trying to find professionals with the necessary BIM training. And the skills needed require more than just computer literacy because the BIM model also takes into account not just geometry, but It also covers spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components.
The Internet is full of sites where anyone interested in learning the skills required for BIM can either take an online course or go to school. And it is a good thing that interactive courses are now being used to their potential. Many companies have already bought the software technology, but because of anyone being sufficiently trained in its use, it sits there doing nothing.
One good example is the software company, Autodesk's recent addition to its Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Collection. The company recently started providing BIM use case software components free of charge. The extra software components include Robot Structural Analysis, Advanced Steel, Fabrication MEP, Dynamo studio and Revit Live.
More about construction sector, Technology, 3D modeling, building information modeling, BIM