The release of the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan is promising news for the infrastructure construction sector in the U.S. The plan, which involves fixing bridges and highways, upgrading transit facilities, and rebuilding our water infrastructure and electric grid, will increase demand for infrastructure construction. If passed, the legislation will open up massive opportunities for construction firms.
As Michelle Meisels, Deloitte’s engineering and construction practice leader, told Construction Dive, “Infrastructure and public utility projects could possibly see a sharp rebound… If the administration comes through and directs funds toward that, you’d see projects that are driven by this government spending.”
Such projects are long overdue. Many of the infrastructure initiatives in the country were kicked off during the 1930s and 1940s, and the United States has come a long way since then. Our infrastructure could certainly use an upgrade, and the good news is the country seems to be heading in that direction.
In order to capitalize on the upcoming infrastructure demand, construction companies must move quickly and innovate like never before. Taking the necessary steps to improve your tools and processes today will allow you to put yourself in the best position to win when these projects come along.
To shed light on how to accomplish this, here’s a roundup of the top innovations in infrastructure construction. These are the tools and technologies making waves today, and they will undoubtedly be influential in the future.
1: Connected Cloud Tools
Connected construction, which Deloitte describes as “An ecosystem of connected job sites, machines, and workers,” is transforming infrastructure projects in several ways.
To begin with, connected construction keeps teams and workflows integrated, which results in streamlined processes and higher productivity. Thanks to modern construction technology, firms can plan and execute on projects in a more efficient and cost-effective way, leading to better outcomes and higher margins.
Connected construction tools also give companies tremendous amounts of data and insights to inform the designs of future buildings and infrastructure projects. The information can also be used to plan large-scale citywide projects.
Aurigo is an excellent example of a tool that powers connected construction. Aurigo helps public sector agencies and facility owners plan, deliver, and maintain their projects through the use of AI and machine learning. The company’s flagship software, Aurigo Masterworks Cloud, is used to plan and deliver over $300 billion of capital projects.
Together with Autodesk, Aurigo helps provide an end-to-end digital construction lifecycle solution for users. Aurigo Masterworks Cloud integrates with Autodesk Construction Cloud Connect (ACC Connect) so that owners can view designs in Masterworks while managing other project components within Autodesk Construction Cloud.
This integration between the two platforms keeps multiple project components and phases tightly connected, promoting higher efficiency within infrastructure projects.
2: Material Management Technology
Infrastructure projects are larger in scale and require more materials — and this means more work is required to keep them in check.
Effective materials management helps you make more economical purchases and ensures that you have the right materials at the right time.
But with so many things required for infrastructure projects, keeping track of the amount of materials you have and where everything is — not to mention the costs associated with those materials — is a challenge.
This is where tools like Intelliwave’s SiteSense® come in handy. SiteSense® is a cloud-based SaaS platform that digitizes supply chain and materials management.
The software has robust ordering and receipt features, making it easy to manage purchases, shipments, and deliveries. SiteSense® also provides visibility into inventory and materials by showing you where they are and how much you have at any given moment.
All of these capabilities lead to better materials management, helping you avoid excess inventory while improving cash flow and productivity.
3: Advanced Analytics from the Field
Data is just as essential on the field as it is in planning, design, and high-level decision-making. This is especially true for large-scale infrastructure projects, which require teams to be more data-driven in order to meet goals and schedules.
That’s why it’s important to arm team members on the field with the right tools and information. When data can be leveraged on the jobsite — where work is actually happening — teams have the ability to manage issues and risks in the moment. This leads to swift decisions that keep complex, large-scale infrastructure projects moving.
Innovations like DatuBIM help make this possible. DatuBIM is an automated construction data analytics platform built for infrastructure projects. It’s a SaaS solution that allows construction firms to use data extracted from the field to track progress, manage budgets, and ensure quality.
The platform uses drone images and creates survey grade as-build 3D models and maps. What’s more, DatuBIM lets you compare design and as-built models from different dates so you can visualize changes and progress between different project phases.
4: Drone Mapping Software
Drone technology has been used for many years now to improve planning, design, monitoring, and maintenance of infrastructure projects.
On the planning and design side, construction teams are using drones to survey a site and determine the scope of work, rather than spending hours on the ground. Drones are able to capture and produce images and data that can be used to figure out what a building might look like in the given environment, and how the project would impact the area.
But today, infrastructure construction projects are leveraging powerful drone data in new ways. When the project is underway, companies can use drones to view and track progress on-site, as well as collect visual data to document the progress being made. All that information helps teams create visual timelines and ensure that work is delivered within the set deadlines.
These applications are possible thanks to innovations like DroneDeploy, which enables you to create interactive site views, maps, photos, panoramas, and videos using drones, robots, or any 360-camera. DroneDeploy makes visual documentation more accessible, allowing teams to coordinate more effectively and have the data they need to monitor projects and make smart decisions.
5: GIS Technology
A geographic information system (GIS) is a system used to capture, store, and manage geographic data. A GIS shows various types of data on a map, including streets, buildings, soil, vegetation, and more.
GIS is a valuable tool in construction. When integrated with BIM, the technology lets teams build richer models and allow designers to plan and design projects in context of the site’s geographic data.
Esri, a leading supplier of GIS software, provides solutions that enable construction professionals to effectively leverage geographic data. ArcGIS Pro, one of Esri’s GIS solutions, allows users to visualize and analyze data, as well as use various sources to build 2D and 3D maps.
ArcGIS Pro can even be connected to project management tools like BIM 360 to layer project data into these maps and gain a better view — and understanding — of the site, which ultimately leads to more informed plans, designs, and projects.
6: Water Infrastructure Modeling Technology
Between frozen pipes in Texas to lead contamination in Michigan, it’s becoming clear that our current water infrastructure is no longer capable of supporting the needs of the population for the long term.
There is an increasingly urgent need to address this, and according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), “the annual drinking water and wastewater investment gap will grow to $434 billion by 2029.”
As such, water infrastructure will likely be a major focus in the near future.
Here to help construction firms step up to the challenge are companies like Innovyze, a software provider that offers end-to-end water infrastructure solutions.
Innovyze has solutions that can be leveraged throughout all phases of water infrastructure projects — from design and modeling to management and maintenance. With everything you need on one, end-to-end platform, Innovyze helps you execute on water infrastructure projects in the most streamlined and cost-effective way possible.
Innovations in Infrastructure Construction Have Come a Long Way
With more infrastructure projects on the horizon, it’s high time to gear up and ensure that you have the tools required to deliver. If you haven’t done so yet, start exploring the solutions tools you could use to level up your infrastructure projects.