5 Promising AEC Trends to Watch in 2021
The year 2020 saw many relevant technological updates for the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. The year ahead is only expected to accelerate these changes. In a Deloitte postelection poll, 76% of E&C executives indicate that they are likely to invest in at least one digital technology in 2021.
In today's fast-moving world, everything is continuously evolving for a better change, and so does technology. The AEC industry is growing persistently with upcoming trends for greater productivity and high performance.
Let us look at some of the upcoming trends for the AEC industry in 2021 and discuss them briefly.
1. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality
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The AEC industry is all set to make the most benefit of VR/AR/MR in 2021. However complicated a building becomes, these technologies can significantly improve BIM visualisation through interactive design and gesture interfacing, making it aesthetically pleasing for clients and enabling faster project delivery.
"One of the things that somebody might find strange in 10 years' time is the idea that we do so much of our work on 2D screens. I think that paradigm shift is going to probably happen faster than people think once AR/VR technology is mature enough. It's already taking rapid steps in that direction." - Hilmar Gunnarsson, CEO of Arkio.
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The AEC industry is a labor-intensive industry involving manual human efforts that can be substituted by Robots programmed to perform such activities. For instance, Faramoon's 3D models are generated automatically without the need for supervision from an operator. Other examples include Robots building walls by bricklaying, helping in reinforcements, or doing surveillance activities. When leveraged, this technology increases efficiency, consistency, and quality and reduces risks and safety concerns.
3. Mobile and Cloud Collaboration
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The key to planning and executing AEC projects used to be to collaborate in a shared location where every team member is on-site to make sure the project is in control. When that can't happen anymore – as we have seen during the pandemic – collaboration has to happen digitally. From automatic data-capturing to cloud data performance-tracking, mobile and cloud technology provides project teams a way to collaborate without collocating on site.
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Construction processes involve high wastage of material from buildings and demolition of structures that severely impact the environment. With building regulation authorities taking stricter actions against construction companies, adhering to making building designs more sustainable and environment-friendly is becoming a necessity rather than a good-to-have. Construction companies have been working towards reducing waste or recycling old materials and building energy-efficient structures.
One technological update seen in 2020 is Scan-to-BIM, a 3D model-generation process evolving with every industry update to help make the construction process more efficient, faster, error-free, and more accurate.
Further BIM applications that facilitate management for comprehensive lifecycle project management are also emerging this year.
Using reality capture and Scan-to-BIM to cut material use and costs is another area where sustainability is helping drive innovation in the industry. According to Deloitte's 2021 outlook, this could lead to considerable cost savings, ranging from 6% to 30%, as it helps "reduce labour costs, ensure better design and quality control, and shorten the project schedule to ensure minimum budget overruns." Our Point-to-Plan, for instance, has played a vital role in enhancing effective and efficient project deliveries.
We can infer from the above list that the AEC industry is continuously evolving, leading to new technologies and trends for the betterment. It is important to note that companies don't need to embrace all of these trends concurrently. On the other hand, when determining which technology to adopt, they should identify their areas of concern and analyse which innovation would befit their business.