What image comes to your mind when someone mentions San Diego? Gorgeous weather, incredible food scene, famous parks and museums, and miles and miles of pristine coastline, right? Truthfully, the Birthplace of California is more than just a popular tourist destination.
San Diego is equally well-known for its highly skilled workforce, thriving startup community, and robust industrial sector. The city’s commitment to human-centered innovation has been recognized by the World Design Organization, which recently named San Diego and Tijuana in Mexico as the World Design Capital (WDC) 2024. Besides cybersecurity, healthcare, and biotechnology, the construction industry is also booming in “America’s Finest City.” San Diego currently ranks fourth in California’s top markets for commercial and multi-family starts. The upward trend is expected to continue primarily due to the latest tech innovations that have revolutionized the industry. Let’s look at the top three cutting-edge technologies that redefine construction as we know it today.
1. Waterjet Cutting
As the term implies, waterjet cutting involves cutting through hard materials like metal, stone, and glass using high-pressure water or, sometimes, a combination of water and an abrasive substance. All the water used in waterjet cutting is recycled back into the process. The cut metal pieces are also passed through a filter in the water before being sold as scrap. Since there’s less material wastage, waterjet cutting is the most environment-friendly technology in the construction industry.
Since it allows you to make curved cuts as accurately as straight ones, waterjet cutting comes in handy for rapid prototyping. And as mentioned above, San Diego is also pioneering in this domain. If you’re willing to learn more about this, check out San Diego waterjet cutting services, like Thunderbird Products. that have CAD software (more on that below) linked to their waterjet machines. All you have to do is email your CAD drawing to them. The staff will load it into the machine and start the production process immediately. Once loaded, it can be kept for future production or used to create new tooling for another die-cutting process. In other words, waterjet cutting eliminates the need to use rotary dies or flatbed presses to cut material to a desired shape. It’s also a relatively inexpensive way to get highly accurate prototypes quickly.
2. Computer-Aided Design
It’s no secret that many sectors have now adopted computer-aided design (CAD) software to create blueprints and models, and for a good reason. Previously, designers had to rely on one-dimensional, hand-drawn sketches made on paper. Everything had to be on point, from lines and numerals to measurements and scaling, to ensure that each component on the plan fits into the real space. So, even if they wished to make minor changes to the layout, the design team would have to erase and redraw their sketches. In extreme cases, they had to redo the entire thing from scratch.
Using CAD software, you can make 2D, 3D, or rotated versions of your engineering drawings and say goodbye to tedious manual revisions. Thanks to its built-in editing tools, copying an object on your CAD paper space doesn’t need redrawing. You can delete an object or undo a mistake with a few mouse clicks. Moreover, the software allows architects and engineers to run a simulation on their virtual prototype and test its properties against real-world variables. This way, they can quickly investigate, identify, and fix errors without starting over. When you do not have to produce multiple iterations of a design until it’s perfect, you save a lot of time and money in the design process.
3. Cloud Computing
Among the latest innovations in the construction industry, this is by far the most prominent one. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it became all the more important to facilitate real-time communication, coordination, and knowledge sharing, between headquarters and field employees. To ensure every worker stays on the same page, cloud computing powers most mobile apps used on construction sites today. This rising trend is predicated on the advent of 5G wireless technology, which will become widely available in 2023. Combined with Wi-Fi 6, it will allow for secure storage of large databases, seamless transfer of heavy design files, and smooth operation of resource-intensive applications, not to mention the use of drones and robots on job sites.
Most construction businesses already rely on cloud-based collaboration tools like Dropbox for file sharing and document management. Others use smartphone apps to streamline and automate workflows from start to finish. Remote work is here to stay. And therefore, having a fully-integrated project management software in place is becoming increasingly essential to make real-time collaboration easier for everyone involved in a construction project—architects, suppliers, material handlers, subcontractors, building inspectors, etc.
Doing so will not only help reduce paper usage from your business processes, but it will also improve your team’s productivity and job satisfaction. A recent study has shown that collaborative policies in the workplace often account for a 50% reduction in employee turnover. Also, when collaborating, employees reportedly feel 17% more fulfilled in their roles.
Construction is one of the main drivers of the U.S. economy, but it is also notoriously hesitant to embrace new technologies. While the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 posed several risks, like housing affordability, budget overruns, and project delays, it also created an urgency for businesses to embrace tech innovations to stay one step ahead of their competitors. However, if implemented well, the above-mentioned cutting-edge technologies could be the key to your success.