Whether it be machinery, software systems, communication advancements, or something as small as a camera, the construction industry is a leader in technological implementation.
Throughout our four divisions (custom home building, commercial & ICI construction, insurance restoration and emergency mitigation services), we have seen a huge shift in the last decade towards the use of technological systems and machinery. We’ve seen our architects use 3D rendering systems for custom home design, 360 degree cameras for insurance restoration documentation, and drones as aerial monitor systems for assessment on commercial sites. We will dive into the technologies we are actively using, as well as a few we are expecting to see more commonly in the coming years.
Drones are an efficient technological tool for the construction industry in a number of different ways. For our commercial divisions, drones work great as a means to assess and inspect large construction sites. From the ground, our project managers can only visually see a portion of the progress, but from the sky, our PM’s can get a better visual much quicker for work being done on upper levels, including the roof. This is a much safer and efficient way of inspecting the work being completed on a commercial site. Previously, our managers would have to walk the entire site, from the foundation to the roof, taking a significant amount of time and effort. With a drone, they can asses exterior cladding, windows, trim and roof work without the involvement of scaffolding or climbing to elevated heights.
For our Luxury Custom Homes division, we use drones as a means to capture progress from the beginning stages of the build, all the way to the completion of the home. This gives us a way to share the building process and final product with our homeowners and potential clients in the future. The cameras on drones are now on par, if not better than professional cameras used to shoot on the ground. We have also used drone photography and videography in showcasing our commercial projects once completed. Drones are able to adequately display the size and scale of our projects. We have built a number of shopping centres and plaza’s, which are hard to capture in on shot from ground level. With the use of a drone, we can shoot the entire complex, while also showing the surrounding landmarks i.e. lakes, highways, housing developments etc…
BIM (Building Information Modelling)
Building Information Modelling, what it is referred to most often in construction as BIM, is a technological software that constructs a digital 3D rendering of homes or buildings during the design phase. At Bachly, we use a system called BIMX. It allows the user to maneuver themselves through the entire structure by clicking the mouse and using the keyboards arrows as navigation. Architects can implement all the features of the home or building including windows, doorways, closets, furniture and fixtures to scale. For our homeowners, this technology is a game changer during the design stage. Opposed to basing important design decision off of a 1D rendering printed on a piece of paper, they can now walk through their soon to be home and truly get a feel for what it will be like once constructed.
BIMX does not only benefit the homeowner, but also the builder and architect. By using this software in the design and development phases, it allows the contractor and architect to see forthcoming issues with different features, before the construction phase. If a window is too close to a roofline, or if a closet door interferes with the natural flow of a space, these issues can be mitigated immediately. With the implementation of BIM into the construction industry, we have seen the world of design and architecture come to life on our screens.
We see 3D printing commonly used throughout various industries and professions. Health care, design, construction, automotive, education…the list goes on and on. In construction specifically, we benefit from 3D printing for the same reason we benefit from BIM. It brings a prototype to life, but instead of it being digital, 3D printing allows the user to physical seeing it. Although we do not use 3D printing for our services, many sectors of the building industry do; architects, tool manufacturers, machinery production etc… Although 3D printing for the purpose of prototype development has been used for decades, the real advancements in this technology is the use of 3D printing to build a physical structure itself. Not just its prototype.
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2004 was the first attempt at using 3D printing for construction purposes when a USC professor printed a wall. Form there, it took about 10 years for a complete structure to be built in Amsterdam using a 3D printer. The advancement that really took 3D printing off the ground for the construction industry was when the use of concrete was brought into the mix (pun intended). 3D printer technology began to process concrete. This technology is still quite new and constantly being developed, however, the potential for the building industry is endless; residential homes, commercial building, sky rises, bridges etc… We’re excited to see what other advancements emerge from this incredible technology.
Our restoration division has seen numerous new technologies being implemented over the last 5 years. These technologies primary purposes are to make lengthy on site documentation process seamless and efficient. Our teams visit houses that have just experienced severe damage either by fire, flood, break and enter or other environmental causes. These homes are filled with our clients personal belongings that have also been damaged. It is our teams job to ensure they document all of the damages and contents at their first site visit. Prior to encircle, our employees would have to take photos on their phone or camera and then upload them once they returned to their offices. This process was delayed, time consuming and left room for error.
With the Encircle program and portable tablets, our team can take photos on site and automatically upload them directly to the file through application. In addition to the prompt photo uploading feature, Encircle also allows us to keep each file organized, up to date and on track with multiple features that are necessary for the home restoration process. It is beneficial for restoration contractors like ourselves, as well as insurance companies and independent adjusters. With the inclusion of tablets and Encircle, our processes have become more streamlined and efficient.
360 Cameras & Docusketch
Another element of our restoration teams on site technology is the newest addition, the 360 degree camera. We use the Ricoh Theta camera, which gives us the ability to capture an entire room and home with 360 technology, ensuring we do not miss an inch of the space. This allows our sketches and reports to be as thorough as possible. This camera has HD live streaming, long exposure and 8GB of memory. The process is simple and easy, making our employees time on site significantly shorter, while providing better results.
Once the images are captured, we then use a program called Docusketch, which processes the images, creates a sketch of the effected rooms from the 360 images and uploads them to the software we use to produce our estimates. This incredibly efficient process cuts down manual office time time by over half. By producing these images and sketches digitally and automatically, our team can focus on more important and demanding responsibilities.