Safety, Savings and a Happier World – Here’s What I Hope Lies in Store for 2020

We’ve got self-driving cars. We’ve got fruit flying at our faces in virtual space. But can technology help with resources and construction in 2020?

We’ve got self-driving cars. We’ve got fruit flying at our faces in virtual space. But can technology help with resources and construction in 2020?

It might be January, but I’m starting my Christmas list early. Here are the three tech advancements I really hope will take off this year.

1.    An increase in remote communication tools

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A few years ago, I managed a team of 18 Quantity Surveyors across multiple sites in Iraq. I needed cost info to do my job – and I got it from speaking to the various discipline experts. 

Getting a hold of these people was simple.

Well… as simple as a couple of international plane flights, a ride in an armoured vehicle and a stay at a luxury camp, equipped with all the facilities you could possibly dream of.

I’m going to shoot myself in the foot here, because it was obviously an enjoyable experience – but I don’t think it was necessary.

Imagine how much money would’ve been saved if I could’ve just chatted to them via Skype or Zoom?

This one’s close to my heart, because my own business is run entirely remotely – but the benefits are inescapable. Fewer overheads means you can spend more on your discipline experts, who’ll in turn deliver a much better job for the client.

With the construction and resources sectors a bit behind the times, I’d love to see more companies adopt remote communication tools this year.

2.    More AI (and not the Haley Joel Osment kind)

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We could all arguably do with more love in our lives, but this sentiment is not about hoping that cuddly humanoid robots will join us on every 2020 construction site (sorry).

I’m talking about AI as a concept: machines being able to do things that would normally require human-level cognitive ability. And the tech is on the up.

I’m expecting to see uptake of this technology as a cost-saving measure in areas where data and scalability are critical. What I’m hoping I’ll see is its use in WHS contexts.

We all strive for an LTI-free project – we don’t want employees or our bottom line to be hurt. Which is why it’s great that change is already afoot.

Last year, a company developed an algorithm specifically engineered to identify potential hazards in a new construction site before any damage was done.

I can’t help but feel that partners, parents and families of construction workers might sleep more soundly with a bit of an added safety net.

3.    More 3D printing, more of the time!

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Q: When a non-profit organisation and a forward-thinking construction company work together, what do you get?

A: A 3D-printed house. In under 24 hours.

Dedicated to solving the global housing crisis, ICON and New Story last year unveiled a prototype 3D printed home, designed with the developing world in mind. The house took less than 24 hours to print – meaning that entire communities could be housed in just days.

This is just one example of what 3D printing can do for the industry – and the world in general. But there are plenty of other applications already in use right now.

For example, in 2014, a Chinese construction company managed to create 10 low-cost houses in a day by ‘printing’ a mixture of cement and recycled construction materials. I’m really hoping we’ll see this emphasis on low-waste construction turned up a notch or two in 2020.

The good news is, 3D printing can help. The tech can allow the creation of exact components with a high degree of accuracy, even if they’re difficultly proportioned. Not having to create these from other materials is obviously a great way of minimising waste.

Plus – and this is important – it’s just. So. Cool.

What do you think? Will my wishes be granted? Let me know!

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