A number of very innovative technology advances will impact the fit-out industry in the coming future. In this insight, we focus on the fit-out trends which we think will take centre stage, including wearable technology, exoskeleton vests, new BIM technology and drone advances.
Looking Through the Lens
Wearable technology is nothing short of a revolution within the fit-out and FF&E industry. Wearable tech is now commonplace, and its significant benefits widely accepted. The potential is unlimited.
Hands-free and heads-up technology can massively reshape the way projects are delivered. Smart glasses provide new innovations by limiting the use of laptops, smartphones or tablets. Just imagine, on-site workers using glasses to request help or instructions on how to resolve a technical problem. The case for using smart glasses is growing. Benefits include employee and customer health and safety, the simplification of complex manufacturing, easing of accessibility in logistics and warehousing and strengthening of security.
The implementation of any technology into a business will create some difficulties. However, many of the challenges faced by wearable technology, such as security, privacy and integration, can be easily addressed with the right, smart solutions.
Global technology expert, Microsoft, has introduced the Hololens headset, providing critical protection on a construction site. Otherwise known as Augmented Reality (AR), the Hololens provides a significant development in the world of construction technology. The Hololens can help you carry out advanced tasks, including Remote Support (Teleconferencing) in the fit-out field, where if construction workers spot an issue on site, they can connect with the Architecture and Design team to discuss the solution and proceed further. Also, a technician on a building site can wear the Microsoft Hololens and collaborate with a support specialist, who uses a tablet and shares the view with the headset. The specialist leaves annotations and information that the technician can then quickly respond to them.
Augmented reality also allows virtual access to wall and metal constructions – in the office or on a construction site. Process modelling for equipment movement and relocations are easier with Augmented Reality, as well.
Will new machinery fit into the space, or should we move it down the hallway? Do we need to remove the additional wall to accommodate the size of equipment? With Augmented Reality modelling and visualization, a construction team on-site can see it in the real-world space and make the right decision.
A brand-new tech that promises to take the construction world by storm is the Exoskeleton vest. Pressure for improved project turnaround times is at an all-time high. Technology and innovation is the solution.
Already being trialled across the fit-out industry, is the ‘Eksovest’, an upper-body exoskeleton vest, designed to support a worker’s arms during heavy lifting. Each vest costs around £5,500, and benefits workers who feel less exerted, resulting in improved wellbeing and greater productivity. Ford, uses the vest at around 15 plants around the world, aiming to reduce the risk of injury for physically demanding and repetitive construction roles.
BIM (Building Information Modelling) Technology continues to be one of the hottest construction technology trends. BIM is a 3D model-based process used in the construction and design of buildings, roads and utilities. As well as a very effective tool for project management, visual representation and project focus, BIM Technology also predicts job costs, and most importantly tells the project manager if the job is achievable.
Looking forward, BIM provides a fundamental change in how we manage, design and develop construction projects and will bring a greater detail of accuracy in the planning and building process. BIM Technology is welcomed by globally recognised brands including Samsung C & T, who mainly focus on engineering and construction projects. The group constructed two of the world’s tallest and most famous skyscrapers, the Pertronas Towers in Malaysia and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Samsung C & T were the contractors for these projects. To overcome several serious issues, they deployed BIM technology in all stages of the building process. The complex structures of the buildings posed many challenges; however, the BIM technology ensured the project finished on time and within budget.
Drones in Fit-Out and Construction
Drones are now more commonly accepted since they became cheaper to source and utilise. Drones provide a completely different dynamical approach to a project, with different views and images which can lead to more effective project outputs. Drone safety around the job site has made great advances. In the past, many companies were hesitant to use drones as they needed a specifically skilled controller.
Drones are reliable, cost-effective, unobtrusive, environmentally friendly and responsive. As drone technology rapidly improves building companies are openly embracing them.
The success of drones within the fit-out and construction sector is down to savvy early adoption by numerous high-profile companies, with several highly recognised firms currently using drones as part of their offering. These companies include Kier, Balfour Beatty, Mitie, Interserve and Costain. These companies use drones in a variety of ways on their sites. A strong advantage of drones is that they provide easy access to large or difficult sites as complex or tall structures. They can gather aerial data, mapping information and images used for land surveys, building inspections, providing visual material for clients and staff, monitoring on-site activities, security surveillance and mapping data.
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