The Sydney Opera House is an architectural gem — and an engineering marvel, considering the lack of sophisticated construction technology available during its conception. Although most recognize it as an Australian icon today, it grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons when it was taking shape. Planning oversights, misplaced sections, and acoustical defects caused it to be significantly more expensive to build and longer to perfect than initially thought.

This world-famous landmark may have paid for itself over the decades, but it remains a cautionary tale about how construction errors can make deep pockets shallower. Mistakes are a fact of life for fallible construction professionals, real estate developers and property owners. Despite this, you can predict and prevent most blunders from a mile away by leveraging these innovations.

CAD Programs

CAD history goes back to 1957, so architects, civil engineers, shop drawing and structural drafters, and residential designers understand its ins and outs. However, builders without CAD expertise or experience may commit costly mistakes by doing everything by hand.

Freehand drawings have a place in the 21st century. Sketching floor plans with a pen and graph paper lends itself to spontaneous and fast drafting and stimulates creative thinking. However, you must digitalize, not digitize. You need to use CAD programs to finalize your rough sketches, allowing limitless revisions and refining them with accurate placement of design elements and photorealistic finishes.

CAD software has a library of templates and stores your 2D and 3D projects to avoid starting from scratch when drawing new architectural plans. Although some programs are more intuitive than others, they all reduce human error when putting details together. The more precise, accurate and realistic your drawings are, the better you can prevent discrepancies that result in cost overruns.

BIM Platforms

These open cloud platforms let you and other stakeholders see everything unfold — from planning to building maintenance — before breaking ground. They pull data from various disciplines to create detailed digital representations of the finished product and support real-time collaboration between decision-makers regardless of location.

Combining BIM and 3D CAD creations facilitates virtual design and construction — a strategy development process that focuses on simulating complex projects. Gleaning insights from data-rich building models is the key to identifying fundamental design flaws, detecting clashes and averting safety protocol slip-ups that can lead to inadequate material procurement, rework and other costly but preventable mistakes.

Management must maximize BIM to have visibility into glaring problems, which helps prevent projects from becoming more challenging than necessary.

Predictive Analytics Tools

Predictive analytics is the process of forecasting future events based on historical data. It involves:

  • Data mining techniques for scouring large datasets for patterns
  • Statistical modeling for identifying relationships between variables using mathematical representations
  • Machine learning algorithms for creating and training models designed to predict outcomes more accurately based on large, complex datasets

This interdisciplinary construction technology requires a well-versed data scientist adept at various advanced analytics platforms. While hiring a qualified professional for this role can inflate your annual payroll cost by six figures, working with one empowers you to predict your operation’s usual errors, where they happen throughout your workflow, and who commits them so you can address them promptly and save as much as possible.

Such knowledge enables you to avoid disaster by determining and correcting bad practices, such as buying inferior materials, ordering from undependable suppliers, using improper equipment, mistiming employee training and overextending workers.

Mixed Reality (MR)

MR blends the best of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Fusing these immersive technologies lets you leverage their strengths to eliminate your blind spots before lifting a shovel.

AR superimposes digital data in a real-world setting. This tech allows stakeholders to visualize and scrutinize BIM models — a critical step in identifying potential clashes. Seeing a building model before your eyes makes it easy to plan construction sequences accordingly without leaving anything to the imagination to prevent safety incidents.

VR creates a simulated environment, allowing users to experience BIM models in 3D. Jobsite simulations are forgiving. They promote spatial awareness and teamwork between team members. In this safe space, the crew can perform high-risk tasks and face occupational hazards without risking physical injury. VR-powered digital rehearsals let laborers and helpers commit high-stakes errors without repercussions so they know how to do various tasks — such as working at heights, climbing a ladder and operating heavy equipment — more safely on-site.

These immersive solutions produce shared virtual spaces that support face-to-face interactions and make remote collaboration more personal. Discussions conducted through AR and VR ensure everyone is on the same page and help minimize costly miscommunication.

Implementing MR involves smart devices like headsets and mobile applications. The hardware and software licenses needed for MR adoption can be a significant expense. Still, they’re worthwhile investments. You can recoup your costs through cheaper insurance premiums and fewer and less expensive budget overruns.

IoT Devices

These pieces of construction technology can detect physically and mentally unfit workers, lighten the impact of strenuous tasks on the body, and note when somebody enters a danger zone.

Smart armbands, vests and footwear measure the wearer’s temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure, motion and location. Monitoring these factors makes it possible to sense mood changes, heat stress, fatigue, microsleep and disability in real time. These devices alert relevant individuals, force break time, and stop errors before they happen or prevent them from escalating into full-blown safety incidents. Some can also detect environmental hazards — such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane — affecting job performance and worker health.

Exoskeletons do more than prevent serious injuries. They help wearers carry out taxing tasks, such as working a jackhammer and lifting heavy objects, more quickly with less energy. The less burdensome normally backbreaking construction activities become, the less error-prone they are.

Wearable beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy, an innovation optimized to wirelessly transmit unique data to GPS tracking equipment. They can monitor workers’ locations, record their movements, and help prevent unauthorized personnel from entering restricted areas.

Furthermore, smart helmets and eyewear use AR to display helpful information to perform tasks correctly, warn wearers of nearby dangers and offer safer alternative routes.

IoT wearables and sensors are abundant granular data sources. They can enrich your repositories for historical worker performance and workplace safety figures, which are useful for predictive analytics.

Underutilizing Construction Technology Is the Biggest Error of All

No construction project is error-free. Each has many moving parts and involves diverse professionals with varying competencies and experience levels to reduce mistakes to zero. However, this doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Adopt and maximize these technologies to head off all conceivable preventable mistakes.