Judging by the attendance at this year’s Digital Construction Week (DCW) event in London (see page 48) one would never have guessed that the construction industry was stuck in the doldrums. True, it has experienced its fastest drop in output since 2009, much of which can be attributable to political and economic uncertainty.
Yet for many, the downturn is an opportunity to plan for the upswing, and investing in digital is a no-brainer. As the Construction Industry Training Board suggests in a recent report1, ‘The adoption of digital technologies is a huge opportunity for the UK construction industry, providing it with the chance to improve its productivity, increase efficiency and attract a younger and more diverse workforce.’
In our last issue, Bertel Kirkeby explored the productivity benefits of robotic pre-marking on Britain’s highways, and in this issue (page 50) Neil Pollock makes the case for surveying technologies that help us work faster and smarter. Automating the labour-intensive, time-consuming task of staking-out is a case in point, and surmounting this challenge was the theme of a DCW presentation by Tom Yeshurun whose Israeli start-up, Civdrone, has developed the first autonomous land surveying marking drone.
As well as surveying a site using its built-in GPS system, the drone’s robotic system inserts ‘smart’ pegs into the ground that subsequently provide data to construction teams via a smartphone app. In addition to performing the staking-out task four times faster than hitherto, this robotic platform can work round-the-clock. Yeshurun argues that construction has so far failed to exploit the true potential of drones, but times are changing. Indeed, the CITB report warns that, ‘Without widespread adoption of digital technologies, the industry will become marginalised and at risk of significant disruption.’
1 Unlocking Construction’s Digital Future: A skills plan for industry. CITB. 2018