Article inspiration from Autodesk

Many industries are rethinking the way they do things as a result of the global pandemic. This includes deploying “contactless” solutions and taking advantage of newer technologies and the “nearly here” speeds of 5G connectivity.

As a provider that has expertise in the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector, its our job to keep an eye on upcoming trends that can improve the capabilities of our clients working to design, build, and repair living and working spaces.

This year’s trends are definitely colored by the experiences that companies have gone through over the last 12 months (and are still dealing with) as well as keeping the construction industry moving forward and continuing to advance.

Here are some of the biggest trends in AEC sector technology to watch for in 2021.

#1 Pocket LiDAR Technology

When the iPhone 12 Pro and the newest Apple iPad Pro were released last year, they had a new capability that makes them especially helpful when scanning surroundings at a high-quality level.

Both support Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) capabilities and put them in any engineer or construction professional’s pocket for easy use on site.

LiDAR allows incredibly accurate scanning of objects and surroundings, including the ability to measure depth. Using this capability on a mobile device allows the ability to create three-dimensional images in addition to the regular site photos being taken.

One of the big areas this will enhance is augmented-reality applications. It’s also incredibly helpful on construction sites for transposing BIM models onto the site.

Some benefits of using pocket LiDAR include:

  • Better manage the dynamic dimensions of the space
  • Document each stage of construction with precision
  • Use for ongoing maintenance and repair activities
  • Detect small cracks or imperfections in a structure
  • Reduces the need for time-consuming in-person inspections

#2 Cleaner Power for Construction Sites

Constructions sites use multiple types of heavy equipment that all need to be powered in some way. This can lead to diesel fumes hanging in the air and a continuous need to source off-site resources for power.

One trend that is cleaning up construction sites and making them more self-contained is the use of rechargeable equipment and large onsite batteries to power it.

Battery costs are coming down as renewable energy pioneers are solving the problem with harnessing and storing power sources from solar, wind, and geothermal methods. For example, Gammon Construction in Hong Kong replaced high-polluting, noisy diesel generators on construction sites with a battery storage system called Entertainer that provides onsite power that emits zero diesel fumes and 85% less CO2.

To tackle the issue with cords needing to connect equipment to a power source, Autodesk Technology Centers resident PHION Technologies has created a prototype to deliver over-the-air wireless power and data. Its goal is to create a scalable onsite power supply that can reach wirelessly across a 30-foot radius.

#3 Virtual Spaces & Remote Site Solutions

Remote working has become the norm due to COVID-19, with companies moving to video conferencing in droves and looking for ways to reduce close contact between employees and clients.

However, Zoom doesn’t give quite the immersive experience as meeting in the same space. Likewise, there are some things that need to be done inside a physical (or virtually represented) space for construction projects to happen.

Look for the same acceleration that happened with video conferencing last year, to happen in the AEC sector this year as companies improve efforts to use software and hardware to better create site collaboration without actually being there in person.

One example of this is Resolve. This tool is designed to allow teams to occupy a virtual space where they can collaborate and examine the area from the comfort of their own office.

This technology uses the Oculus Quest headset and is operable with Autodesk BIM360. It allows you to create virtual models of your project in a space that your team can then occupy at the same time. It’s as close to walking around the site in person as you can get without actually being there.

#4 Hardhat Drones That Can Do More Than Just Look

Drones have become a handy tool in the construction industry to get site photos that would be difficult to get otherwise and giving a project manager the ability to inspect hard-to-reach areas.

This year watch for those drones to get their graduation to hardhats as they gain the ability through robotics to do more than just take photos and video.

Some of the emerging technologies give drones tasks that mean humans can spend less time on site. Rather than handling tedious jobs in potentially unsafe conditions or inclement weather, a human operator can be in the safety of an office guiding the drone through its tasks.

Some of the emerging drone capabilities in this area include:

  • The ability to tie rebar intersections
  • Dropping seismic sensors across mountainous terrain
  • Drones with spraying capabilities

Is Your AEC Firm Using Autodesk to Its Full Capabilities?

NetCare is now an Autodesk partner and we can help your AEC sector firm take full advantage of its capabilities, including those in emerging fields.

Contact us today to learn more. Call (02) 9114 9920 or reach out online.