Construction Trends 2020

Published by Patrick Lalonde

April 9, 2020

Article is based on Patrick's presentation at dbNCR's Febrary 18, 2020 event.

AEC Technology Trends 2020

Augmented/Virtual Reality

Although virtual reality has made major advancements in the construction sector in recent years, Augmented Reality is already proving to be a much more useful tool. Similar in many ways to virtual reality, Augmented Reality combines computer based virtual imagery with reality. This is achieved through a device such as a Tablet or Smartphone or the recently released Hololens from Microsoft and Trimble.

The ability to project a 3D Virtual Model into a physical space allows installation crews to visualize the exact size, shape and location of what they need to install. This creates a huge opportunity to increase productivity and quality control by reducing the need to make assumptions from various sources of information.

Another use for Augmented Reality is visualizing design options and approvals. The ability to physically walk a client or end user through a space to visualize the final product will allow everyone to make informed decisions and be confident in the results.

Prefabrication and Modularization

Prefabrication has been around in the construction industry for a long time in the form of specific components, such as pre-cast concrete, and structural steel. This concept has been growing into other building system components, such as mechanical and electrical and curtain wall systems. The advantage to this is the ability to build more pieces or sections of the building within a controlled environment and assemble and perform final assembly onsite.

Another growing trend is off-site construction or Modularization. This trend is similar to prefabrication in that many people see it growing in popularity over the next several years. There are already some progressive construction companies that have started implementing these strategies in the way they run their operations – especially manufacturing companies.

The companies use these standardized processes to assemble as much as possible off-site before they complete the construction project on site. The benefit here lies in the fact that standardization cuts down on costs and lead times.


The construction industry is one of the least automated industries that feature manual-intensive labor as a primary source of productivity. Either in new construction, renovation or demolition, robotic automation has not yet seen significant adoption in construction. Industries like healthcare are already investing a lot of money in them. As these robots grow even more precise and accurate, they’ll become a commanding force in the construction industry.

In the beginning, the cost of robotics will be high, but it will still be well worth it to at least pay attention to this technology. Eventually, we may witness robots being able to do things like lay bricks and tie rebar, we may even see them complete most of the current man-operated construction projects.

There are several types of construction robots that we will most likely see on a construction site. First, will be in the form of 3D printing that can build large parts or sections of a building in place. A second type of robot we will see is automated robots or vehicles that can deliver material to, from, and around a job site as well as monitor and photograph the surrounding areas.

As a highly manual industry such as construction, robotics and automation has the potential to have profound impacts to increase productivity and address projected labor shortages.

Continued advancement and integration of Building Information Modeling

BIM technology could function as a game-changer for construction and offer a detailed depiction of the project development in an open and highly collaborative environment. It serves as the catalyst for emerging technologies such as sustainability, modular, prefabrication, and robotics to fundamentally change in how we manage, design and develop a construction project.

There will be an increased focus on standards and interoperability to improve the sharing of BIM information throughout the project or asset lifecycle. BuildingSMART International has developed a format called Industry Foundation Class or IFC. IFC is a standardized, digital description of the built asset industry. It is an open, international standard (ISO 16739-1:2018) and promotes vendor-neutral, or agnostic, and usable capabilities across a wide range of hardware devices, software platforms, and interfaces for many different use cases.

As the adoption of BIM based workflows in design and manufacturing increases it will be the new standard to have fully detailed 3D models of all building system components. The development of robust and information rich models provides a platform for advanced multidisciplinary collaboration.

Cloud and Real-Time Collaboration

Increased Mobility

Hosting information in the cloud enables workers in the field to access all the project information from a mobile device.

Real-time Collaboration

Contractors and project stakeholders can easily access project information and share documents on the cloud simultaneously, whether you are on the field or in the office.

Improved Security

Cloud has secure infrastructure to store documents that contain all the plans, receivables, payables, work orders, and purchase history. Storing data in the cloud automatically backups data so incase of natural disaster, system failure, data can easily be retrieved.

Decrease costs

Consolidating all the project data to the cloud reduces the need to purchase costly hardware and maintain on premises infrastructure.


Traditionally you may end up inputting the same data several time into different spreadsheets or databases but the cloud is a single source of information and greatly reduces wasted time in double data entry