Modular Construction’s Suite Life

Computers have been commonplace in construction companies for generations, now. The 1982 introduction of the IBM PC changed the relationship of companies with computing by bringing relatively inexpensive computing to the desktop of individuals and organizations alike. But in those early days, software was limited in capability by the limited memory and processing power of the PC. As both evolved, individual software applications were integrated into systems and suites of applications, providing greatly improved benefits to the user.

As computing changed businesses, businesses changed their approach to doing business. In construction, technology was giving architects and engineers digital design abilities via CAD and BIM (computer-aided design and building information modeling) while field applications, ranging from remote project monitoring to digital punch lists, brought technology to the jobsite. Meanwhile, offsite construction was also benefiting from technology as robotics changed the way modular and prefabricated buildings were assembled in the shop and later onsite.


Construction Cloud Gets Pyped

Construction-focused software and systems are still a limited field compared to the general applications market. Niche software is often developed with high technology aspects, such as AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning capabilities, that slow their adoption due to “fear of change.” Construction is one of the largest industries that is slow to accept new technology, unfortunately.

One answer is to make the application easily integrated with systems in use at many companies already, and offer the technology embedded in a cloud-based system making its use easier and less expensive. Major players in the market are quick to recognize the benefits of these technologies and, by integration or acquisition, make them part of their overall construction system.


One Done, One Begun

Design, engineer, and build under one roof can provide all the right services for large clients, such as cities and universities, when they want to limit the number of companies involved in a project. One such company is Woolpert, an AEG (architecture, engineering, geospatial) and strategic consulting firm with more than100 years of experience, 1,000 employees and 30 offices. The firm was contracted in 2015 to provide design and engineering upgrades to five campus buildings at the UNCC (University of North Carolina-Charlotte).

The $17 million renovation of the Academic Complex at UNCC was recently complete. Five academic buildings make up the complex at the southeast end of campus. The buildings include and were renovated in the order of Denny, Macy, Barnard, Garinger, and Winningham. Woolpert upgraded the MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing), install a fire protection system, improve accessibility, provide interior finishes and exterior windows, and address minor building settlement at these buildings.


AI: Slowed but not Stopped

AI—Artificial Intelligence (or Augmented Intelligence)—has been a buzzword for decades. Every day we hear of things being augmented with AI: autonomous cars, for example. But is AI really growing and being implemented in practical, useful applications?

Apparently so. Worldwide revenues for the AI market, including software, hardware, and services, are expected to total $156.5 billion in 2020, an increase of 12.3% over 2019. While this year's growth is somewhat slower than previous years due to the economic impact of COVID-19, IDC (ntl. Data Corp.) believes investment in AI will recover quickly.


COVID and New Construction: Lessons Learned

The novel coronavirus and its disastrous disease COVID-19 have run rampant across the world, causing deaths and economic as well as physical pain. Governments are working to find ways to lessen the damage and industries are doing the same. Construction, while often considered an essential business during the pandemic, has been hit hard with forced layoffs and office closings. In the midst of the crisis, lessons are being learned, both for future prevention and near-term mitigation of the effects of a pandemic. And designers, architects, and construction professionals are finding answers for their clients, too.

Taylor Morrison, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based homebuilder and developer, has taken the idea of a “Healthy Home” to heart with its TM LiveWell, a standard offering for all new construction. Inspired by comments of home shoppers during the COVID-19 crisis, the builder is offering consumers healthy home features with in-home products for safer and cleaner living at no additional cost.


Science Fiction or Science Future?

When Star Trek first appeared in 1966, it presented a world of the future that was so far beyond the norm of the time that people were asking, “Can that really happen? Will that really happen?!” The years since have proven that, in some cases, Star Trek was only a short distance ahead of the technology curve.

In the 21st century, we take for granted so much of the science fiction of the recent past that we may become jaded to what the real future holds. Terms that were the realm of fiction writers 50 years ago are being used by kids in high school—and being explained by them to their parents. The internet has expanded—for good or evil depending on your point of view—the access to information and technology. And now, the Internet itself is being examined for ways to make it even more powerful.


AI and 3D Equals VI for Construction

Information has traditionally been presented in words and charts. A new approach is coming, claims the developers, and it will combine 3D virtualization and AI (artificial intelligence) for the commercial development, construction, and property management segments. ViZZ enables users to collaborate and securely track and share changes to building models before, during, and post-construction. The system is called VI (visual-intelligence) software and is available now.

The developers, Mitch Hughes and his partner Arol Wolford, have more than 40 years of experience in the construction, engineering and technology fields.


COVID-19 and the Future of Work

With the almost sudden switch to remote office work during the initial stay-at-home mandates, COVID-19 took many businesses by surprise. Few outside the high-tech area were ready for the change-over or had protocols in place to respond quickly. Employees found themselves at home, on the Internet, and on their own. For many, it was a learning experience in how to set up their home computer to emulate the office system they were familiar with in the past (the past meaning 2019 in this case).