From enhancing productivity to improving safety on sites, digital technologies are shaping the future of the construction industry, says Mohamed Ragheb, chief development officer at Azizi Developments
Leveraging digital technologies can help build efficient construction processes in several ways, especially through improved communication, he remarks. Digital tools such as project management software, collaboration platforms, and mobile applications can facilitate communication among project stakeholders, allowing them to share information, track progress, and coordinate activities more effectively. This can help reduce errors, delays, and rework, resulting in a more efficient construction process. Design tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) enable more accurate and detailed building plans, helping to identify and mitigate potential issues early on in the construction process. Technologies such as drones, 3D printing and prefabrication help streamline construction processes and reduce labour costs. Virtual reality and augmented reality can be used to train workers and simulate dangerous scenarios and wearable technology such as smart helmets and safety vests help monitor workers' health and safety, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries, he explains.
"The choice of building materials can have a considerable impact on a building's energy efficiency and sustainability," says Ragheb. "Materials with high insulation properties, such as aerogel can help reduce heating and cooling loads. Sustainable options, such as engineered wood, bamboo, and rammed earth, can also be utilised to create more environmentally friendly buildings."
"Incorporating renewable energy systems including solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heating and cooling can be used to optimise a building's energy usage by automatically adjusting settings based on occupancy, weather, and other factors. Smart thermostats and lighting controls are some examples of building automation systems," he adds.
He points out that Dubai is at the forefront of sustainable building design, incorporating various innovative technologies, materials, and design processes into its projects. One of the most prominent examples is the Burj Khalifa, which features an innovative double-glazed façade that helps reduce heat gain and minimise the building's cooling requirements. The building also incorporates a highly efficient cooling system that utilises waste heat from the building's chiller plant to provide hot water for the building's occupants.
Ragheb further explains that the use of smart technology is expected to improve the efficiency of city services, reduce energy consumption, and enhance the overall quality of life for residents. He quotes the Qatar Science and Technology Park as a prime example of how advanced technologies can optimise energy efficiency, enhance building security, and improve occupant comfort. "By embracing the latest technologies and utilising smart solutions, the Middle East is well-positioned to create more sustainable and efficient cities for its residents with initiatives such as the Smart Dubai initiative and the Emirates Energy Star programme leading the way," he added .
Power of collaboration
"Collaboration between stakeholders is critical in efficient project delivery in the construction industry. To achieve successful collaboration, stakeholders must establish clear objectives and expectations from the outset, including timelines, budgets, and quality standards," continues Ragheb.
"Effective communication is another essential aspect of collaboration. This may involve establishing regular meetings, using technology-enabled communication tools, and encouraging open and transparent communication channels. Collaboration can also be improved by creating a collaborative culture that values teamwork, trust, and respect. This may involve recognising and rewarding cooperation, creating shared values and goals, and promoting a sense of ownership and accountability among stakeholders."
"Finally, measuring and evaluating collaboration is essential to ensuring its success. This may involve using metrics such as stakeholder satisfaction, project completion time, and project cost to assess collaboration's effectiveness and identify improvement areas. Technology tools, such as project management software, cloud-based document management systems, and collaboration platforms, can facilitate communication and collaboration among stakeholders and improve project delivery," he adds.
Digital technologies such as IoT-enabled devices providing real-time data on a building's energy consumption, occupancy and other key metrics, AI-powered robots and the use of machine learning for predictive maintenance are all expected to play an increasing role in the construction industry.