The fortunes for any sector are never easy to predict accurately — but despite challenges, global construction output is set to rise to $ 10.1 trillion by 2021.
Technological advances continue to improve efficiency and there are several firms meeting specialist demands in imaginative ways.
Here are four niches at the cutting edge of the construction industry.
3D printing has developed rapidly and the benefits of being able to mass produce prototypes, components and entire products without wastage are huge.
But hi-tech construction startup Apis Cor set the bar even higher this year by 3D printing a house in one day.
The igloo shaped 400ft square house was built near Moscow at the reasonable cost of just over $10,000.
With countries like the UK facing an affordable housing crisis, this technology could provide a solution that makes home ownership achievable for most people.
Augmented reality (AR)
AR made a bigger mark in construction this year with the introduction of the DAQRI Smart Helmet.
Its array of wide-angle and infrared cameras combines with a powerful data processor and Internet of Things connectivity to enable painstakingly precise thermal monitoring of industrial equipment.
Construction workers can scan equipment and consult data simultaneously thanks to a clever on-screen display — and the helmet can be used both indoors and outside.
Excess heat can be very dangerous for workers and damaging to equipment — but this device brings control-room capabilities to workers in any situation and even allows remote experts to inspect installations from the same viewpoint as the worker.
This practical application of AR helps workers identify and resolve risks far faster than was previously possible.
Specialist wire and braid
Wire and braid products have featured in complex construction and engineering projects like large-scale bridges and cable cars for many years.
But specialist firms continue to develop sophisticated products that meet the demands of modern industry.
Ormiston Wire are one example — their self-locking suspension wire systems are used extensively in retail, while wire turbulators made of copper or stainless steel encase industrial tubing — ensuring the maximum turbulence and minimum loss of pressure necessary for liquids and gases to flow at optimum levels.
So some tech advances rely on pushing the envelope ever further for products that have already made their mark.
You don’t have to be granted access to a laboratory or industrial environment to witness futuristic technology in action — the next time you need household floors tiled, your favourite tradesperson might have a robot assistant.
The Cbot automatic floor-tiling robot takes the heavy work out of large-scale floor tiling by laying rows of tiles simultaneously — far more accurately than a human.
The machine can be loaded with 21 Terrazzo or 55 thin tiles and is pre-programmed to complete any floor size or shape with its measurement and guidance system.
These four niches at the cutting edge of the construction industry prove that no stone is left unturned in the quest for greater automation and efficiency.
What’s your favourite construction innovation? Share your thoughts in the comments section.