Advances in autonomous machinery, electromobility and telematics - to name a few - are revolutionising construction and offering countless benefits to companies and their customers around the world.
To celebrate this, I want to explore these three technology trends and discuss why they will shape the future of this exciting and innovative industry.
We’ll start with a technology that I’ve written about before, autonomous machinery and vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles are on the rise. By the end of 2025, the global self-driving vehicle market is expected be worth $1.6 billion with applications in construction that will improve the industry’s productivity and efficiency.
When adopted by a company, autonomous vehicles can be utilised to complete mundane tasks and in turn, allow operators to concentrate on value-added jobs. This is especially valuable when you consider our current global shortage of heavy equipment operators.
Autonomous vehicles will also help reduce fatigue and stress on human operators, resulting in improved safety. For example, instead of traveling away from home for weeks at a time, an operator might transition to a different role, managing equipment remotely to complete his/her tasks.
At the centre of this trend, Built Robotics, is playing a crucial role in bringing the advantages of autonomous machinery to the mainstream. That’s because the California-based vehicular automation start-up specialises in upgrading off-the-shelf heavy equipment with AI guidance systems. This enables the machines to operate fully autonomously.
Built Robotics’ autonomous machinery offering includes a dozer, excavator and CTL. Each of the robots are equipped with a multilayer safety system to ensure 100% safe operation. This consists of sensors to detect people, animals and other vehicles; geofence, so robot movement is confined to a specified work zone; and wireless emergency stop to halt operations remotely at any time.
Thanks to these features, the fleet has completed over 10,000 hours of work with a perfect safety record.
More autonomous vehicles like these and general construction equipment is beginning to be powered by electric motors, which is the second trend I want to concentrate on.
Equipment manufacturers have been addressing sustainability for years by putting lower-emission engines in their machines, adding features that reduce fuel consumption and developing telematics systems that help operators reduce fuel usage and machine idling time.
Widespread adoption of electromobility is the next step to achieve sustainability.
In the past, this hasn’t been possible. But thanks to continued research and development, electric motors - along with the batteries that power them and the computers that enable them to work efficiently – are now cheaper, more powerful and easier to make. They’re a viable option for most companies.
Electromobility offer more advantage than sustainability alone. For one, they’re quieter. But they also require less maintenance than traditional motors and can help companies cut costs through emission-reducing tax incentives. It’s a win-win-win… I’ve lost count of the wins this technology provides!
In this area, Volvo has created a true game changer. The company’s Volvo ECR25 Electric excavator and L25 Electric wheel loader, run on lithium-ion batteries and can be charged using a 220/240-volt electrical socket – what you’d use for a larger home appliance like your dryer.
The vehicles also come with fast-charge options that can get them close to peak charge within a couple of hours.
Technology like this presents a huge opportunity for our industry to improve its impact on the environment. According to a United Nations report, the buildings and construction sectors account for 38% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. But innovation in electromobility could go a long way to addressing this.
We know the industry can implement widespread change. We’ve already seen multiple construction companies embrace connected construction equipment and telematics over the last few years. This has quickly become the norm at job sites around the world and I expect innovations within the space to continue.
This works by connecting equipment through telematics systems, which combine GPS technology, on-board diagnostics and monitoring sensors to track, log and report data via cellular networks on the performance and operation of construction equipment.
Data from telematics systems are then accessed through a web portal and provide data on numerous machine systems. Common data points include GPS location, fuel consumption, idle times and machine alerts.
South Korean multinational, Doosan, offers leading solutions in this area. The company’s DoosanCONNECT Telematics provides powerful equipment diagnostics that monitors the health, location and productivity of Doosan equipment. This can be accessed in real-time by the user via a user-friendly mobile app and website.
With DoosanCONNECT Telematics, it’s also possible for dealers to see the status of a customer’s equipment. This helps maintain equipment and reduce equipment related expenses for customers.
The recent rise of telematics has seen many dealers significantly improve their online presence. Consultations, repairs, parts and services have all gone online. Software updates on machines are now implemented automatically from the cloud, meaning thar problems can be diagnosed anywhere.
It’s encouraging to see so many companies embrace new technologies and propel construction into the future.
While it could still be a couple of years until autonomous machinery becomes the norm, I’m excited to see how companies will continue to adopt electromobility to improve the environmental impact of our industry. The same goes for connected machines and telematics, which is a space that continues to innovate.
If you’d like to tell me about a technology trend that you’ve noticed or the important work you’re doing in construction, I’d love to have a chat. Please give me an email via Abbel.Kisanji@industrial-cm.com and we can get a call set-up.
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