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4 Key Industrial Construction Trends

With large retailers expanding their e-commerce operations and companies looking to stock up on and goods and materials to help mitigate supply chain bottlenecks, the industrial supply demand formula is currently demand heavy. In fact, real estate giant JLL’s recent research report “The Rice for Industrial Space, Can Supply Keep Up?” estimates an 87% year-to-year increase in the number of 1-million-sq.ft.-plus projects under construction.

To deliver these warehouses and manufacturing facilities, contractors are embracing the latest technology to capture cost and project schedule efficiencies.

Building Information Modeling

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a 3D shared design platform where architects, engineers, and contractors can collaborate on developing building designs. Constantly updated in real-time, building teams can easily visualize how the building looks from all angles and easily detect and correct any clashes between different building elements.

Particularly beneficial for industrial facilities where buildings are larger and more complex, BIM supports enhanced building owner input as these folks can more easily visualize how their evolving building with look and function. Buildings designed and built with BIM significantly reduce Requests for Information (RFIs) and change orders. With the collaborative BIM models revealing any problems or issues, these can be resolved on the front end and ultimately support a more streamlined, cost, and time-effective building process.

Automation and Robotics

As a highly labor-intensive industry, construction firms are shifting physically challenging, repetitive tasks to robots and automated machines. From bricklaying to welding to rebar tying, robots are performing these tasks faster and with greater accuracy. For jobs requiring great human strength, automated equipment is being deployed for excavation, demolition, and concrete works. Robots are also being used to detect faults in structures, for example, with greater precision than manual inspection.

In addition to protecting worker safety and reducing the risk of on-site injuries, the use of robots is assisting with the skilled worker shortage issue contractors and subcontractors are struggling with nationwide.

Drones

Another technology advance making a big splash in construction is the use of drones to quickly and easily survey a construction site and collect key data. Particularly valuable for larger industrial sites, these flying robots are being deployed to track a building’s progress and provide real-time updates.

At the onset of a project, drones can assist with visualizing the site’s topography. As construction progresses, high-resolution pictures capture exactly what is happening. These images can then be uploaded into the BIM models, enabling teams to pinpoint any mistakes or clashes. In addition, the imagery can be analyzed with thermal sensors to detect heat leaks, cold areas, or any electrical issues. With the ability to address these anomalies right away, this saves time and money.

Eliminating the need for construction workers to climb scaffolding in an attempt to photograph aerial views, drones significantly reduce safety risks and provide more comprehensive imagery.

Modular Construction

Projected to develop at a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% for the next five years in North America according to market research firm IMARC Group, pre-fabricated modular construction is a sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective building strategy.

From larger building structures and pods, to panelized components like walls and roofs, systems are fabricated in high quality, controlled environment and delivered on-site ready for erection. Significantly reducing labor and materials, modular construction speeds up project delivery schedules and enhances safety. According to the Modular Building Institute, projects can be delivered 30% to 50% faster than traditional stick-built construction.

The Outlook

With ongoing demand for industrial space and the challenge of finding skilled labor continues, building teams are turning to technology to more efficiently deliver these large projects. Consequently, the application of BIM, robotics, drones, and modular construction will continue playing a significant role in executing these complex developments.

Are you considering an Industrial construction project?

Give our multifamily construction experts a call. We are happy to help guide you through the process, walk a prospective property or give an initial construction budget. 

Barbara Horwitz-Bennett is a seasoned architectural journalist, covering the design and construction industry for the past 20+ years. She writes for numerous industry magazines and creates content for AEC firms and product manufacturers.