The construction industry is often thought of as a more conservative one; in that traditional methods and tools are used and that the sector is slower than others to innovate. I believe, of course, that this is completely wrong. This article is the first in a series on technologies in the construction industry. Through this series we will explore different startups, businesses, and tools that help contractors maintain an edge on the competition, that help the sector become more environmentally responsible and that help workers in their day to day.
A Brief History
It is possible to trace the history of the construction sector as far back as 9000 BCE. Construction has had an integral part in the different eras of human civilization. The Copper Age, the Bronze Age, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome all brought about new technology that both increased the standard of living for their citizens, and also created architectural pieces that withstood millenniums; like the pyramids of Egypt and the aqueducts of Rome. Then, different materials became more common in buildings, like iron, cement, bricks, glass, etc. Tools and construction methods changed and adapted.
Came then the first industrial revolution. The mechanization of the industry changed forever the landscape of humanity. Chain production made products more readily accessible, evolving modes of transportation facilitated access to various materials, new tools eased the process of building and the demand for the sector exploded caused by the mass urbanization and the appearance of a new middle-class. the second industrial revolution brought about cranes and propelled the construction sector in the sky. Skyscrapers and towering cities became the symbol of a modern society.
Within the past few decades we witnessed the appearance of robotics in the construction sector. Robots that seemed to be outlandish forty years ago start to become accessible. The invention of the internet opened up a pandora’s box of potential. Therein came the digital revolution, the cloud revolution, etc. allowing offsite management, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Management (BIM).
Now more than ever contractors have had to adapt to increasingly demanding clients and a more competitive market. Companies who are able to adapt and innovate hold a tremendous competitive advantage over their peers. In a business where the workforce is hard to find, where errors make or break the return on investment of a project, and where billions of dollars are invested yearly; being able to minimize the risks and increase productivity is a recipe for prosperity.