Emerging Technologies in
Benefits include rapid estimates, thorough planning, and efficient construction
by Kristen Erickson
Some industry processes remain the same—contractors
are still placing concrete for foundations, erecting
columns, and framing stud walls. However, the tools
and techniques used to accomplish these processes—from the
ever-changing nature of “blueprints” to drones and threedimensional
(3-D) printing—are evolving; new technologies
are continually being implemented.
Emerging technologies allow concrete contractors to more
accurately and efficiently estimate quantities, visually plan the
placing of concrete and site logistics, and more effectively
coordinate the systems that go into each project.
Advancements in industry-specific software and technologies,
such as in visualizations and data sharing, provide many
opportunities for refinement of processes to the benefit of our
teams and clients.
Estimating models are a great starting point to streamline
efforts and realize the benefits of building information
modeling (BIM). These models can be created in less time
than it takes to make an estimate based on traditional twodimensional
(2-D) drawings, and they provide additional benefits
in visual communication. If a model is developed early and in
such a way that it works for other team members, it can
continue to provide benefits throughout the life cycle of a project.
The 3-D environment allows the integration of numerous
models throughout the design and construction phases. The
work of various trades can be combined so that multiple team
members can identify, view, and discuss issues and conflicts
as they find collaborative solutions. Hosting 3-D models on
platforms that can be easily and simultaneously accessed by
project team members encourages transparency, reduces
opportunities for miscommunication, and often results in less
rework and higher quality.
26 JANUARY 2020 | Ci | www.concreteinternational.com
3-D design model was integrated with estimating models and laser
scans (illustration courtesy of Pepper Construction)
Some teams are even using digital review processes for
structural steel and concrete reinforcement instead of
traditional 2-D shop drawings. Continual refinement of
emerging processes like these offer exciting opportunities
to decrease upfront production time, improve quality
communication and feedback, and potentially reduce the
overall review process.
From the simple to the complex
Concrete contractors can find benefits in advancing
technology beyond estimating. Models can be used for
planning and coordination of systems like earth retention,
safety perimeters, shoring and formwork, post-tensioning and
mild reinforcing, embeds, and equipment such as screen
walls, tower cranes, and material hoists.
Team members at the jobsite can capture value from BIM
by using apps on tablets and smartphones. Workers can
transfer coordinates and linework from 3-D models to total
stations for concrete layout, and free 3-D viewers allow
project managers, superintendents, and others to view models.
The visual nature of BIM models and the ability to add
scheduling help ensure that crews in the field understand
exactly what they are building—and when. Emerging
technologies also allow teams to track productivity and costs
through mobile applications.