Core, a new app and online site, is designed to connect construction laborers with contractors and builders in need of workers. It has gotten the eye of several influential Silicon Valley investors.
Core, a new app and online site, is designed to connect construction laborers with contractors and builders in need of workers. It has gotten the eye of several influential Silicon Valley investors.
Building Information Modeling was a new technology a few years ago that is now a universally accepted staple of the industry. It allows all the stakeholders in a project, from builders and architects to accounts and owners, to look at the process in real-time to see completed work and the challenges looming ahead.
The construction world has been slow to adapt to new technology but in recent years the boundaries of what is possible continue to be pushed. The problem, experts say, is finding people who are skilled in both the tech world and the construction world. It’s a rare skill set, but it’s becoming increasingly in demand as everything from BIM to robotics to virtual reality devices are pounding on the door of the industry.
Long a dream of those who are choosing to live and build off the grid, a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell is now available to supply heat and power. The first major introduction of the new technology is being implemented in the United Kingdom, but will have far reaching effects across the globe.
Calling to mind images from The Abyss or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, undersea adventurer Fabien Cousteau (son of legendary Jacques Cousteau) is planning the Proteus, the first undersea research station to be built in 34 years. Jacques Cousteau, who once lived in an undersea research station as an “oceanaut” for 30 days, dreamed of a day when living and studying under the waves would become commonplace. And new plans may be taking us one step closer to that dream.
Though air conditioners have long been the primary method of keeping cool, Covid-19 has taught us two things: we need more fresh air than we’ve been getting, and recirculated air means recirculated germs. And when we push our air conditioners harder and harder to keep buildings cooler, we’re producing a bigger carbon footprint.
Icon, a startup based in Austin, Texas, made news (and an appearance in this blog) last year when it became the first company in the world to 3-D print an entire neighborhood. The project took place in Mexico, creating small two-room homes as part of an affordable housing effort to help the homeless. The $35 million experiment was such a success that the company has raised a further $44 million in funding to bring their work to America.
In an effort to produce a more carbon-friendly concrete material, Texas A&M University has developed a 3D printing technology that not only has implications for construction here and now, but is thought to be one of the most viable ways to implement construction on Mars.
Tesla, the company behind the electric cars and the SpaceX launch vehicle that safely sent astronauts to the International Space Station and brought them back safely to earth, is now turning its eye onto the most substantial ever energy storage system, in Moss Landing, California.
Buildots, a new technology firm, eponymously named after the new invention they’ve created, announced this week that it has raised $16 million in funding.
Gaurav Sant, a professor at UCLA and director of UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management, is overseeing a project to convert carbon dioxide emissions into building materials. The project just received a $2 million, two-year grant from the US Department of Energy.
The new Canadian company Nexii has created a material that is 33% more energy efficient than concrete and that allows for rapid construction of buildings—including small, medium, and large structures. Based in British Columbia, the company says its new building material, combined with an improved design and assembly process, allows for buildings that are cost-efficient, durable and even disaster-resistant.
According to business consultancy group McKinsey & Co, the construction industry will radically change as it undergoes nine shifts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The report, The Next Normal of Construction, explains how “disruption is reshaping the world’s largest ecosystem.”
A 2018 study from Fails Management Institute (FMI), a management consultancy group, reported that 55% of engineering and construction firms were “actively seeking new technology solutions.” But at the same time, a 2019 study from Dodge Data and Analytics found that 90% of the contractors surveyed “do not specifically budget for innovation.”
Australian software company Atlassian is putting its new headquarters in a mass timber and steel 40-story building, which will be the world’s tallest “hybrid tower.”
Despite all the re-openings of the economy and the lifted restrictions, COVID is still with us, and testing continues to speed up, not slow down. But testing is in so much demand, especially in hard hit states like Arizona and Texas, where lines for drive-thru testing can be hours long, that many are looking for alternative testing sites.
The COVID pandemic, which to date has infected 2,000,000 Americans and killed 112,000, has slowed in many areas, which has led to many economies opening—some faster than others. But what all areas have seen over recent months is that for construction to continue, even post-coronavirus, technology will need to be a much bigger factor in the construction industry.
A material that has been used for millennia in construction doesn’t show any signs of stopping being useful in the modern era. Used for everything from scaffolding to bridges to waterways to entire buildings, bamboo has been used in Asia and South America for thousands of years. It has many benefits, not the least of which are that it’s very strong, very flexible, and grows extremely quickly.
While damage control and preparation is becoming an increasingly important factor in planning our cities, certain extraordinary circumstances are something we can’t plan for but which require quick architectural responses that offer aid to those affected—and often the difference is life and death.
In the annual Evolo design competition, this year focused on skyscrapers, the magazine made a timely decision to name the Epidemic Babel the 2020 winner. The skyscraper, which is designed by Chinese architects in response to the COVID-19 crisis, is designed to be built at a moment’s notice at the site of an outbreak—a kind of pop-up hospital that can take mass casualties.
The IT Network and security company Brash Concepts has begun adding thermal cameras to jobsites in New York City. The cameras measure the body temperature of workers to identify who may be running a fever (an early warning sign of COVID-19).
COVID-19 has led to substantial losses in nearly all industries, and construction is no exception. When the outbreak subsides, economic recovery will most likely be an elongated process. To shorten this period as much as possible, companies will need to take advantage of new construction technologies.
Businesses all over the globe are facing the ever-increasing challenge of keeping their employees safe and complying with safety guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19. While many businesses have adopted work-from-home procedures and others have furloughed their employees or shut down completely, essential businesses, including construction, are still operational and finding it more critical than ever to manage the situation. And, as the country at large looks to reopen and get workers back to work, organizations will need solutions in place that can help them operate in the "next normal."
The construction magazine Construction Dive took an in-depth look at what is coming down the pipeline for jobsites in a post-coronavirus world. It listed eight things that it said will changing in coming months and years—some of which will be temporary but some of which will be permanent.
In 2006, in Tugela Ferry, South Africa, an extremely virulent, drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis raged through a hospital—and the building was partially to blame. The hospital was not designed for infection control. The transmission of the disease was through particles suspended in the air, inhaled by patients in a poorly ventilated building with overcrowded waiting areas.
Opened in 2014, One Central Park in Sydney Australia looks at first like a building overrun, the ruin of a high rise that has been overgrown in some future apocalypse. A park at the foot of the building literally continues all the way up the structure, as vegetation from more than 250 different plants and flowers cover the building. They look pretty, provide shade, and send a statement: this building is sustainable.
While construction continues in many states, social distancing is remaining a rule on worksites, and it often makes things difficult for workers to move around the building—and especially difficult for site managers to patrol them and make sure they’re following the rules. And not following the rules could, in many areas, land them heavy fines.
We’re already seeing semi-permanent changes being made to stores and gas stations: plastic barricades are going up to protect cashiers from the breath of customers and yellow lines are painted in parking lots to mark where queues should form to wait their turn to enter the store. It’s likely that we’ll see many more innovations in the coming months and years as we learn from this pandemic how to curtail future ones. But this isn’t the first time that architecture has changed radically because of mass sickness and disease. Just as COVID-19 is changing modern structures, 18th century tuberculosis, 19th century cholera, and 20th century Spanish flu forever altered the way architecture is used in cities.
COVID-19 has changed the country irrevocably and the fallout will last for decades if not centuries. There is no way to foretell all the many ways that the world will be different because of the pandemic, but some architects are looking to past styles when thinking about future construction. Everything old is new again.
Many entire industries are sheltering in place and working from home, but construction is one sector that is often referred to as ‘essential’, meaning that the workers have to continue on the job and do their best to maintain social distance. But new technology is right around the corner that may put workers at home, behind a desk.
We’ve seen many different attempts at reinventing the brick lately, as the production process of the material—and the energy consumption of brick structures—isn’t good for the environment. The Brick Development Association (BDA) says in their 2019 Sustainability Report that brick manufacturing is “energy intensive” and “involves firing clay bricks to over 1000 degrees C.” Another material that can be used to make bricks is concrete, made from water, sand or gravel aggregate, and cement. Over 4 billion metric tons of cement are produced annually which accounts for roughly 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. So, while bricks are an essential commodity for construction, new solutions to produce them is always being sought.
Project management software giant Procore Technologies Inc has held its cards close to its chest in the decision to go public, but last Friday the answer came forth loud and clear as the company filed the paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcing its plans for an initial public offering (IPO). No date for the IPO has been set, but they say it will happen in the “near future”.
While robots and autonomous equipment has been used for mapping and scanning jobsites, for the first time fully autonomous heavy equipment has been introduced and is getting ready to be put on the market.
If you were to guess which country on earth had the highest agriculture exports, you’d probably pick the United States, and you’d be right. But if you were to pick second place? Would it be Canada, with its vast land area? China, with their bustling export business? It would have to be a big country, wouldn’t it? Known for cutting edge technology?
What was once a material originally engineered for the construction of airplanes, thermoset technology is increasingly being contemplated in the production of not only specific building features, but the entire way buildings are designed.
Construction zones on roadways have always been dangerous, and many strategies have been tried to deal with them, including increasing fines for speeding in those areas, increasing patrols by law enforcement, and giving construction workers the power to tag and report reckless drivers.
On this blog we’ve covered the topic of sustainable construction and the carbon footprint of buildings before, to the point where it may seem like a broken record. But a new technology has turned the sustainable construction field on its head: fungus.
A new study by FMI Corp, sponsored by Procore Technologies, found that contractors are not only not taking advantage of existing technological advancements in their current work, but don’t have a plan in place to implement new technologies in the future. This is concerning, though not surprising, as construction has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology despite the promise of savings and efficiency.
As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, concrete and concrete production leaves a massive carbon footprint—approximately 6% of all carbon released into the atmosphere comes just from the laying of concrete. These new technologies are seeking to mitigate that in new and exciting ways.
Expected to reach $54 billion by 2023, the wearable tech market offers to transform the construction industry through the ability to improve safety and efficiency.
When it comes to using technology on a jobsite, smart phones are the go-to device. Nearly 93% of respondents to the JBKnowledge ConTech report said they use smart phones for their work, more than laptops (83%) and tablets (64%). The use of smart phones by construction professionals has grown nearly 21%.
High-tech “smart cities” are becoming all the rage over the last twenty years, but there is currently pushback on many fronts saying that what we need are “dumber” cities—ditching the data and embracing the lessons learned over the past millennia.
Armatron Systems, an Arizona-based 3D Construction company has secured a patent for an on-site printer that officials say can create a 60-foot-long slab of concrete in less than a minute—and not just lay the concrete, but set the concrete, so it can bear weight. This rapid slip-form mold extrusion process limits bubbles and air in the concrete which shortens the curing time, which allows not just for long slabs, but curvilinear forms as well.
Drones fulfill many roles in the construction sphere, everything from giving a basic overhead view of the jobsite to maintaining track of materials, machinery and people. Contractors use them from everything from comparing as-planned construction projects to as-built projects, as well as optimizing the grade of the terrain and recording images and videos. Their usefulness can be increased with thermal cameras, mapping tools, and GPS units.
In April of 2019, an electrical fire in the roof of the Notre Dame de Paris, a cathedral that has stood as a national and international landmark for 850 years, sparked a blaze that tore through the ceiling beams and partially collapsed the roof. However much a tragedy, architects are turning lemons into lemonade by using the reconstruction process to determine just how, exactly, the magnificent cathedral was built and stood so solidly for so many centuries.
Mobile apps for construction technology are hh2’s bread and butter, but you may be surprised to learn just how prevalent mobile apps are in the construction workforce. According to the 2019 JBKnowledge ConTech report, 93% of respondents say that they use their smart phones for work, more than laptops (83%) and tablets (64%). The use of smart phones in the industry has grown 21% since 2014.
There are many shake ups in the world of architecture in the last year. Africa’s tallest building was completed. Europe’s first underwater restaurant launched. Architects and regular citizens alike watched in horror as the Notre Dame de Paris burned.
A slogan that we heard as kids in school has entered a more professional lexicon: the world of architecture. Yes, architecture has long been about trying to be more sustainable and there have been some extreme cases of recycling products to build modern structure, but now it’s taking on a whole new meaning as modern architects increasingly look for ways to make their buildings environmentally friendly, cheaper, and even more beautiful.
Until recently, talk of robotics on jobsites has mainly been experimental. Brick-laying robots, 3D printers, and rebar tying bots have been the primary presence of robotics on the industry. The promise of robots has always been that they could lower operating costs and save labor, but they have never been cheap or efficient—at least not as cheap and efficient as necessary to replace existing technologies and trends. But now, when the labor shortage has grown so drastically, and efficiency is down so much, robots are finally becoming a more appealing solution.
Two years ago, the first ever 3D printed house was built in Texas in less than 24 hours. Now a new organization in Mexico is aiming to curb homelessness with a new 3D printed community. The homes, which are 500 square feet each, are all printed in approximately one day. So far, two test homes have been constructed, with plans to expand greatly.
It was not a surprise that 3D printing made a huge surge in the last year, as we’ve seen it used everywhere from the printing of entire concrete homes to fabricating delicate roof structures. But there may be a surprise in all the many applications we’ve seen it used in this year. Here are just a few:
At an October construction technology conference in Singapore, Atkins CEO Keith Clarke told executives that if global temperatures rise two degrees Celsius in the next 20 years then instead of worrying about their pensions they should instead “buy a shotgun” because of “mass migrations, upheaval, and extinctions.”
We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about two things: the slow, but increasing acceptance of technology into the construction industry, and the drastic labor shortage of skilled workers. But it may just be that the improvement of one will improve both.
In an age where construction robotics are the next new thing on the horizon, it might surprise you to learn that the first brick-laying robot was designed and featured in 1967. Claimed to be able to lay bricks five to ten times faster than the tradition by-hand method, it claimed to be the idea of the future. Attached by rail to a wall, the Motor Mason was an intriguing experiment, but ultimately a flash in the pan.
The observatory of One World Trade Center, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex, has a distinct smell to it. Aside from offering 360 degree views of New York City, the observatory has piped in the smell of trees and plants native to New York: beeches, mountain ashes, and red maples.
Just under five thousand American died on the job in 2017, and 20% of them were construction workers, according to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). Of those deaths, 381 were falls, 80 were struck by an object, 71 were electrocutions, and 50 were caught-in/between. These are known in construction as the Fatal Four.
Every contractor fears an unknown problem leading to a lawsuit, and new technologies are being introduced more and more to combat those fears and safeguard contractors. Three main categories of technologies are coming forward: scheduling software, 3D modeling tools, and data collection devices.
In an industry that is traditionally resistant to technological changes, it may be surprising to learn that the construction industry is forecasted to spend $4 billion in artificial intelligence by 2026. While Power Tools has covered many stories of robots on the job site, this artificial intelligence is expected to come in the form of planning and forecasting software.
Built at the Kennedy Space Center pad complex, the new launch and landing facilities for the SpaceX Starship Mk2 prototype rocket are heavy construction. Although work only began three weeks ago, photos show heavy equipment has already cleared a large area next to the 39A ramp.
Engineering News-Record reports on a new trend that is saving time, money, and lives. For inexperienced workers, virtual reality interfaces are helping to spot errors before they become significant. In fact,the report says that construction workers with less than three years of experience are able to double their ability to spot design errors using a 3D model.
A new house built in Switzerland, designed by the ETH Zurich University, could be one of the first steps in a construction revolution. The DFAB house (digital fabrication) was developed by the university and two dozen partners as part of the Next Evolution in Sustainable Technologies (NEST)project.
Not much has changed in the home construction industry in the last fifty years. Workers show up to a site, dig, pour, frame, sheath, and finish a house, with a nationwide average cost of $428,000 a piece. And that’s when there’s proper space to find that jobsite and enough skilled laborers to do the work.
We’ve all seen a construction project tear up existing grass, trees, shrubs and earth—temporarily, to be replanted and “restored” later. But what impact does the temporary disruption really have on the landscape, fauna, and human usage?
While we try to keep you informed on construction news, there’s so much that we at PowerTools can’t cover. Here is a list of ten great construction-related podcasts that can help you keep abreast of everything newsworthy in the industry.
As we’ve discussed at length on this blog, the labor shortage is requiring construction companies to look outside the box to solve their productivity problems, and they are increasingly turning to technology. The progress has been relatively slow compared of other automated fields, such as manufacturing, but progress is being made, and new tech on the horizon looks promising.
“2019 will be a critical year in the evolution of 5G as global roll-out pilots will shape the landscape and specifications will start to be formalized. Intelligent connectivity, enabled by 5G, will be the catalyst for the social-economic growth that the 4IR (4th Industrial Revolution) could bring.” – World Economic Forum
In a recent meeting of the American Concrete Institute, Brian Moore of the FMI Institute stated that the future is changing and that there are three factors that will either make or break a construction company in the next ten years.
Blockchain, the technology that powers things like bitcoin, is set to revolutionize the way that construction companies, engineering firms, architects, and customers interact. Blockchain is defined as a growing list of records, or blocks, that are connected using cryptography. Each block contains a link to the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. It’s a little like communicating on the cloud, but with intense security, and on some serious steroids.
Construction workers account for 7% of the world’s workforce, but in a world where robotics is replacing people’s jobs, these workers seem relatively safe. Why? According to an article in TechTarget, it’s because the industry isn’t adopting new technology fast enough.
With 20% of construction time spent fixing errors, a Barcelona-based company decided to build a solution that automates the process of monitoring the jobsite. The robot uses LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and autonomous vehicle technology (the same kind of thing used in driverless cars) to build computer models of jobsites.
It is a fact that much of the United States infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly, but the commonly held belief that our spending on such infrastructure has dramatically decreased does not appear to be upheld by the evidence, according to a new report from the Brookings Institute.
hh2 Powertools reported on the rapid growth in investment into construction automation, but an editorial by Chris Stanley, of the Concrete Block Association, says that it’s an enticing solution that overlooks the real problems.
Investors are pouring money into construction technology start-ups at a rapidly increasing rate, and it’s making many in the industry stop and take notice.
While many construction technologies seem like a hammer searching for a nail, many new ventures, like hh2, are combining the best of tech with the best of modern breakthroughs.
With such rapid advances in technology, the options for something as basic as glass are no longer simple. There are extensive selections to choose from when building your project, and your purpose, geography, and usage play an essential role.
With a population of more than twelve million, the city of Sao Paolo, Brazil, is a thriving metropolis with a bustling economy and miles after miles of concrete, asphalt, and steel. But one architecture firm is doing its part to make an oasis deep in the heart of the city.
Introducing the newest member of our sales team, Bryan Stapley. Bryan is a Utah native, but he has lived in many places across the U.S. and abroad. He joined hh2 in 2019, and he is so excited about the opportunity...
Introducing Kevin Hadley! Kevin is one of many valued employees at hh2. He serves as the vice president of the Sales Department. He has been with hh2 for more than 13 years. Kevin’s day to day consists of working...
While the thought of new technology is exciting for some, it takes some time and proven results for others to get behind adopting a change in one’s workflow. This can be explained in detail in the Diffusion of Innovation...
It’s no surprise that the construction industry is benefiting in large parts from artificial intelligence (AI). A new job within the industry, a data scientist, is using AI to their advantage. Software and computing systems are...
A recent case study was conducted by the American architectural, planning and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) that show its recent advancements within digital fabrication. Its 3D-printed...
Efficiency, safety and sustainability within the construction industry are taking leaps forward as technology continues to improve. The 21st century has brought a plethora of new advancements in...
With the labor shortage in the construction industry not showing any big signs of relief, a push towards automation that includes robotics and exoskeletons may soon be on its way—much to the delight...
New worksite ideas come and go, but here are three new emergent technologies that appear to have gotten over the early hurdles and are proving to be invaluable on the job site. Telematics: As the...
As I was reading the news this week I was intrigued to find two headlines that completely contradict each other. The first: “The Construction Industry is Short on Human Workers and Ripe For a Robotic...