Technological advancements are transforming the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry into something markedly different than it was in the past. From the perspective of the industry-wide skilled labor shortage, technological advancements and innovations have the potential to improve your AEC workforce prospects, save worker time and educate incoming workers faster.
Workers are likely to be attracted to forward-thinking companies, whether it’s yours or a competitor’s. With the many tools and technologies emerging, a few stand out as noteworthy. Following are 6 trends that will affect your AEC workforce:
1. Artificial Intelligence
Machines and robotic equipment are being programmed to do repetitive, time-consuming jobs. One example is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to work with large geospatial point clouds and datasets. Machines can efficiently identify data trends and deviations that otherwise would take your workers scores of hours to manually process.
There are already not enough people to fill the number of available construction jobs. So the rallying cry of, “Robots are coming for my job,” seems groundless. Your evolving, smaller workforce will shift to perform tasks that cannot be automated or performed by machines.
2. Carbon Tracking
Your workforce can help you achieve sustainability targets for better use of materials and resources using strategies inherent in the digitization of AEC workflows. Thanks to the increased adoption of building information modeling (BIM), companies can now more efficiently measure carbon footprint, emissions and embodied carbon on a project. Data-rich BIM models can provide your workers with a single source of truth to work from, helping them use their time efficiently and reducing rework.
3. Game Engines
Members of the newer, tech-savvy workforce are familiar – and many are proficient – with video games. As the graphics engines for video games have become increasingly powerful, they provide more realistic 3D modeling. Plus, game engine and geospatial companies are partnering to facilitate more powerful processing of large geospatial datasets. New generations of workers are attracted to jobs using technology. Improved 3D visualization capabilities combined with geospatial data for viewing realistic simulations is made even better when integrated with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
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4. Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can provide significant value to your workforce on a project. They can be used to help workers track physical assets and even sounds and movement. This additional information enables better decisions about maintenance, and, when used in conjunction with AI, more efficient processes.
5. Reality Capture
Another discipline attracting workers is reality/3D capture. 3D capture is becoming widely accessible in proportion to the availability of mobile devices, which are on the cutting edge of reality capture and modeling. Mobile phones now have LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors and laser scanning capabilities. Construction apps are being used increasingly on jobsites. Drones and robotics are being used to automate reality capture, saving worker time and improving safety on jobsites.
Data is being collected at an extraordinary rate and in unprecedented amounts, and the cloud is a practical place to store it. But processing that data into a meaningful form is a time-consuming matter. There are software and IoT companies dedicated to promoting interoperability of disparate data collection sources so workers can make use of it to enhance their productivity. Standards are being considered in the interest of developing common data environments that everyone can benefit from.
With steady improvements in hardware and software tools, AR and VR are already being used in project design and as employee training tools. They provide a more comprehensive and interactive single source of truth for architects and engineers. AR and VR can help identify clashes and potential problems earlier in a project’s lifecycle. VR, especially, can support interactive collaboration, even when workers are at offsite locations. AR can be used to superimpose 3D designs on the physical site to detect potential issues, saving worker time.
Despite the industry-wide skilled labor shortage, technological advancements and innovations can improve your AEC workforce prospects, save worker time and help you educate incoming workers faster.
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