IoT and Digital Twins

The growth of Digital Twin technology parallels the growth of the IoT—Internet of Things. Many research firms are tracking both the IoT and Digital Twin markets, but not all use the same definitions.

Juniper Research in the UK, for example, defines a Digital Twin as a virtual model representation of a connected physical product, process, or service, across its whole lifecycle (design, build, operate). The virtual replica uses operational realtime data and other sources of information to enable detection of issues, advance both learning and understanding, as well as test and simulate scenarios in the physical model counterpart.


Construction, AI and COVID-19

Business as it has been may not be the norm as nations around the world are still impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Governments at every level are searching for ways to aid their constituents, keep them safe and still reopen businesses that have been shuttered as a precaution against unnecessary spread of the virus. The implementation of lockdowns has resulted in stoppage or delays of construction projects and disruption of supply chains in the sector.

To tackle the impact of COVID-19, governments worldwide are expected to take significant steps and implement schemes for promoting construction projects once the pandemic is under control. A research report on the Global AI in Construction Market by Research Dive presents the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the present and future market growth.


Construction Safety Challenge

Construction has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, although in many states building continues while other businesses are shut down. Equally important, construction companies are learning a critical lesson from the coronavirus problem: safety must be paramount. How they are responding can be helpful information for others in the field.

A coalition of critical infrastructure and construction companies has banded together to launch the “NEXT Coalition” to promote and share industry safety best practices. Black & Veatch, DPR Construction, Haskell and McCarthy Building Companies are leveraging their safety expertise and best practices in a campaign to ensure the well-being of crews and office team members facing complex challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak.


Collected And Connected

Companies buy insurance to protect their bottomline in case of accident or delays; insurance companies create systems to protect their bottomline from too many claims. By helping their clients, insurance firms help themselves as well.

The Construction insurance business of AXA XL takes this idea to heart. AXA XL is the property, casualty, and specialty risk division of AXA, providing insurance and risk management products and services for mid-sized and larger companies. By creating the Construction Ecosystem, an integrated digital platform that employs construction technologies to monitor and aggregate data, AXA XL provides contractor clients with insights and benchmarks to help manage risks on their jobsites and across their organizations.


Contactless Construction Check-in

Construction has been considered an essential service in 31 states since April’s extended lockdown period and more are making that declaration as restrictions are loosened. But regardless of the limited or unlimited status of construction, companies in the industry have been taking extra precautions to prevent their workers on the jobsite from succumbing to the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing masks and keeping distance from others whenever possible are common actions while sharing of hand tools and other equipment is frowned upon.


Modularity in Housing

COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis has impacted residential and commercial building even while states—with the exception of Michigan, New York, and New Jersey—have declared construction an essential business. In addition, construction projects in many parts of the U.S. were slowed as states adopted work rules—such as social distancing—that added to the time needed to complete jobs. The pandemic has also played a key role in causing construction-grade lumber to increase in price. A number of lumber producers have temporarily or permanently ceased operations, reducing lumber supplies as fewer homes were completed and renovation activity fell off.

Building materials suppliers and distributors did see solid sales growth in April due to seasonality and construction professionals stockpiling materials for future use, but primarily sales were supported by homeowners engaging in DIY (do-it-yourself) projects, such as building decks and fences, renovating rooms, and installing shelving.


Cameras Everywhere

With remote work the norm for many functions since the coronavirus pandemic, it is natural for remote observation of jobsites to be a trend. Why risk exposure to the virus by touring an active site when you can do much the same surveillance from the office—or from home?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) advises that the best way to prevent illness and prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus by way of physical distancing (also known as social distancing). New camera technology, using AI (artificial intelligence), can be used to determine when two or more people are standing or working too close to each other. The technology, from construction camera specialists OxBlue, has the potential to increase awareness and improve safety and is available to those looking for alternative ways to create social distancing awareness.


Affordable Housing

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship across all sectors. Job losses in March, for example, contributed to a decline in U.S. median income and housing affordability according to the NAHB (National Assn. of Home Builders)/Wells Fargo HOI (Housing Opportunity Index).

The Index shows only 61.3% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning an adjusted U.S. median income of $72,900. This income level is down from $75,500 in the fourth quarter of 2019 when 63.2% of homes sold were considered affordable.


Drilling and Digging

The slogan, “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas” doesn’t apply to what is happening there now. With most trade shows and conventions, arguably the second biggest visitor draw to Las Vegas, on hold or outright cancelled for the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, work on the remodeling of the LVCC (Las Vegas Convention Center) can proceed without impacting the Center’s crowds. There are no crowds.

A major part of the LVCC remodeling is a new underground transportation system designed by Elon Musk’s The Boring Co. The first commercial endeavor for Musk’s company, the $52.5 million project will allow convention attendees to be whisked across the 200-acre campus in under two minutes, free of charge, in all-electric Tesla vehicles. Construction is already underway on all three passenger stations in the system. 


Seattle’s Software

Seattle is known for many things: the Space Needle, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks among others. It is a city willing to try new as well as revel in the old. In the near future, it may very well be the case study for automation of city contract functions.

Aurigo Software, a provider focused on the public sector, entered into a multiyear, multimillion dollar contract with the City of Seattle to automate the entire city's contract management process including more than 5,000 individual construction and non-construction contracts annually.