Construction is a fast-paced industry, which means construction firms need to streamline their processes as much as possible in order to remain competitive. One cost-effective way to do this is with the use of augmented reality (AR) technology. With AR, firms can cut down on paperwork and increase efficiency by projecting digital data onto real-world objects. The best part is you don’t have to be an expert programmer or engineer to implement augmented reality in your construction business. In this blog post, we’ll explain exactly what AR is, give you examples of how it can be used in the construction industry, and share some useful resources so you can get started using AR at your organization as soon as possible.
What is Augmented Reality?
Simply put, Augmented Reality (AR) is when digital images and computer-generated data are blended with a user’s view of the real world.
There are two types of AR: mobile AR and wearable AR. Mobile AR occurs when a smartphone camera and an AR app are used to “place” digital images on top of real-world objects. The simplest example of this is an AR game where a digital character is projected onto a table or floor. Wearable AR, meanwhile, is when computer-generated images are projected onto a wearable device, like a head-mounted display or smart glasses.
The potential applications of AR are virtually limitless. In the construction industry, this technology can be used to make the daily workflow of construction workers more efficient and safer. It allows employees to view critical information by just looking at the real-world objects around them.
How AR can be used in Construction
The best way to understand the potential benefits of AR for construction companies is to explore some specific examples. Here are some ways Augmented Reality can be used to enhance efficiency:
AR can be used for remote collaboration through AR-enabled smartphones, allowing project managers and other stakeholders in different locations to join virtual meetings using AR technology. This gives construction workers an opportunity to review blueprints, drawings, and other project-related documents without having to travel to a central location. This, in turn, saves time and reduces the overall cost of projects.
Using AR, construction firms can track the location of heavy machinery and other expensive equipment by projecting a virtual marking onto the machines. This allows workers to know exactly where a piece of equipment is at any given time, thus preventing accidents related to equipment misplacement.
Job site management
AR can be used to organize daily construction tasks and manage workflow on the job site. This includes displaying digital checklists on walls, tables, and other work surfaces to keep workers on track and prevent errors. AR can also be used for training new construction employees.
Quality control and safety
AR can be used to streamline quality control and safety procedures on projects by projecting checklists and safety guidelines onto physical construction materials, such as scaffolding and ladders.
Examples of AR in Construction
Construction workers are often tasked with mapping the location of existing utilities, such as water, gas, and other public services. AR can be used to display these utilities on a smartphone or tablet, making it easier to identify and avoid them. This can also help to prevent costly excavating mistakes, which are often caused by inaccurate mapping.
Large construction projects are often made up of many smaller components, such as materials, equipment, and supplies. AR can be used to track the location of these assets, making it easier to identify problems and issues related to supply chain management. This can also help construction companies comply with government regulations related to asset tracking.
AR can be used to record and track detailed information on construction projects, such as the progress of daily tasks, time management, and the location of workers. This makes it easier to review and analyze project data, which can help to identify areas for improvement.
While it’s clear that AR can drive significant benefits, it’s also important to understand the potential challenges of this technology. The following are some potential challenges of implementing AR at construction sites:
While AR provides many benefits, it’s important to note that all data is stored in centralized servers, which increases the risk of data breaches. Construction firms should use end-to-end encryption to protect sensitive data whenever possible.
Although AR can be very helpful, the accuracy of data displayed on smartphones and tablets often lags behind traditional methods. Data accuracy can be improved by using a mixture of these two methods, but it is not possible to completely replace traditional methods with AR.
Augmented reality technology continues to evolve and improve. As a result, new and potentially disruptive technologies are emerging. Here are three technologies to watch:
Predictive maintenance is a process in which computer algorithms are used to monitor equipment and predict when repairs are needed before they become critical. When applied to augmented reality, predictive maintenance also allows companies to monitor the location and condition of their equipment in real time through an AR app. This is particularly useful in the construction industry, where heavy equipment and tools are often used on job sites that are not owned by the company.
Virtual reality (VR) headsets are rapidly improving and becoming more affordable. VR offers much more immersive experiences when compared to AR, which could make it a more appealing option for construction firms.
AR is primarily visual, but augmented audio technology allows users to hear information in their surroundings. This could be especially helpful for construction workers who are exposed to loud noise on a daily basis and may not be able to visually see augmented images.
AR for Enhanced Safety & Quality Control
Construction firms can use AR to help ensure the safety of employees and project stakeholders by projecting safety checklists and other guidelines onto the physical construction materials. This makes it easier for workers to see the information at a glance while they are on the job site. As mentioned above, AR can also be used to monitor equipment and tool conditions in real time, which helps construction firms to identify potential problems and address them before they become critical. All of this can help to lower project costs and improve the overall quality of work on the job site.
AR for Equipment and Tool Tracking
Construction firms can use AR to track the location of heavy machinery and other expensive equipment. When a piece of equipment is moved, workers can update the device’s location to show where it is being stored, who is using it, and when it is scheduled to be returned. This makes it easier to identify if a piece of equipment has been stolen. Additionally, equipment tracking is helpful for managing insurance claims and complying with government regulations related to the management of heavy machinery.
Augmented reality technology is redefining the way companies do business.
For construction firms, AR offers many benefits, such as increased efficiency and improved safety.
As exciting as this technology is, businesses should be mindful of potential challenges and invest where it fits your business goals.