The Australian construction industry, like many businesses and industries globally, has faced significant challenges in 2020. Massive projects have stalled, building contractors and managers had to deal with budget cuts, and there was a lack of human capital amidst rising labour and material costs. While the industry itself continues to stay resilient, there are still productivity challenges and having to deal with disrupted construction activities.
The demand for new buildings and safer public infrastructure relies on newer technologies and agile work practices that can reduce costs and save time.
To move forward, the construction industry needs to embrace innovation and explore the latest solutions that can increase efficiency to remain relevant.
This year, construction and infrastructure will aid in stimulating the economy, leading to more residential and commercial projects. With a higher construction demand, innovation will play a critical role in fast-tracking the completion of projects and helping the industry get back on its feet.
Innovations in general, have been proven to improve our quality of life. For example, Australian innovators such as Cochlear and ResMed have helped thousands with their hearing implants and sleep wellness solutions.
In the same way, construction innovations can also speed up the delivery, safety, and quality of projects while minimising project overruns.
Here are the latest innovations in construction that are set to transform the industry.
Digital Twin Technology
In recent years, more technological developments in sensors, smarter algorithms, and robotics have made it possible to combine digital and physical so that buildings can be built faster while being more durable, use more environmentally-friendly materials, and cost less.
Digital twin technology is one example that uses sensors to gather data and linking real-world objects with its virtual representation. When used in construction, digital twin technology uses sensors to gather data on the physical project site and then creates a replica of the site, giving contractors access to a virtual model with updated real-time information such as beam measurements or soil volume, to tools and bolts being used onsite, or worker or material supply information.
The digital representation is later used for visualisation, modeling, analysis, simulation, and further planning. This data triggers the feedback loop of decisions and changes in workflows that influence the control processes of the real object system.
Using a digital twin of the construction project can speed up design and production, and optimise operational processes. Building contractors can use the digital twin for prefabrication, maximising efficiency. A report by the Construction Industry Institute indicates that 25% of productive time is lost on unnecessary handling of materials. Digital twin technology prevents this from happening through automatic resource allocation and monitoring, further eliminating wastage.
Having a virtual model or simulation to work with not only helps with visualisation, but also improves planning and analysis, helping construction teams to improve safety and quality while reducing risks.
Amidst current social distancing guidelines and travel restrictions, using digital twins in construction ensures projects stay on track to meet set targets.
Over time, the materials we use in construction have evolved and changed, but none more than volumetric mixers and the use of concrete.
Volumetric mixers are now employed in the use for more tasks in the industry and have stood out in their propensity to save time and reduce costs. Volumetric mixers now come in different designs that are equipped to handle specific jobs depending on the size.
Quality and quantity control in the use of concrete has become a critical part of construction as it allows mixers to only pour out the amount of concrete needed, with less than 1 percent wastage across all pours, enabling dramatic cost savings for project teams that are already strapped for reduced budgets.
Volumetric mixers are able to deliver concrete in large ranges and in various capacities from less than 1.0m3 to 10m3. It can also provide fresh concrete every time, with control of the pour from start to finish.
When used with Rapid Set BCSA Concrete, volumetric mixers can maximise working time as there is no waiting around for concrete to set.
Antoun has the biggest fleet of volumetric mixers in Australia and is leading the charge in innovation, read more here.
The use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in construction has also made it easier to understand how buildings work, reducing construction errors and fast-tracking builds. VR’s immersive experience and AR’s ability to help us see objects and construction tools in different dimensions promote cross-department collaboration.
Construction teams can now look into designs at any time and conduct safety, compliance, and quality assessments remotely.
Rapid Set BCSA Concrete
Another ground-breaking innovation in the construction industry is the development of Rapid Set Beltic Calcium Sulfoaluminate (BCSA) concrete, which has helped cut down the time it takes to complete builds and maintenance repair work in critical infrastructure because of its quick-setting properties and minimal shrinkage. Unlike ordinary concrete, it can reach the required compressive strength of 28 mpa in just 2 hours. Rapid set concrete also has good longevity for fatigue, low in chlorides, with less than 200 microstain, making it a top choice for design and construction professionals.
Rapid Set concrete is more than just the statistics above. It is skid-resistant and quicker to construct, has allowed for lower construction costs, lower maintenance costs, and further extends the life of assets. All this makes it a highly innovative and smart solution for construction and infrastructure projects that have to continue amidst massive budget cuts in a struggling economy.
Drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Drones have proven to be invaluable in sectors such as law enforcement, industrial sites, conservation, mining, and even in construction and infrastructure projects. Its ability to capture aerial data makes it ideal to use at large facilities and sites, making it easier to collect data and helping inform decision-making.
Drones can be used in all stages of construction from pre-build, mid-build, or post-build.
With COVID-19 restrictions leading to more remote work, drones can also assist in project mapping.
When using lights, GPS, and ground-penetrating radars, it can easily detect geographical errors that may be easy to miss by the human eye, which further helps quality and safety assessments in builds. It also improves safety in construction sites, helping contractors assess hard-to-reach and dangerous areas.
While a lot of the innovations we’ve mentioned have been useful for the initial stages of construction, fastpatch is another leading innovation in repair and maintenance projects.
FastPatch is a polymer repair that bonds to surfaces and remains flexible throughout its service life. It’s a short-term temporary repair solution for concrete damages that doesn’t require replacing the whole slab. This is a big improvement from powder-type repairs as these materials are not flexible, require water, and are labour-intensive to install.
The cure time for fastpatch is only a few minutes, which greatly improves the return to service time for critical infrastructures such as roads and highways, and saves on overruns.
Where Antoun Steps In
Whether it is the use of innovative solutions such as rapid set concrete, fastpatch, and our fleet of volumetric mixers, Antoun is a pioneer in innovative solutions for mission-critical infrastructure. Our proven E6 methodology is known across Australia for fast-tracking expedite pavement projects of all sizes and guarantees on-time project delivery at dramatically reduced costs.