Just like new technologies have revolutionised the way we’re working in the health, engineering and fashion fields, there are a stack of opportunities opening up in the trades thanks to digital developments deployed to mitigate risk and increase productivity. And with the modern-day tradie’s toolbox now packed with as much intangible gear as physical stuff – digital site plans, inventory management systems and smartphone-based apps – the traditionally physical-only industry is now more reliant on STEM smarts than ever.
Here, we unpack the new tech impacting the future of building, brickie, electrician, plumbing and painting careers.
Virtual and augmented reality
Tech that combines real world with computer generated images – like Microsoft’s wearable HoloLens – are starting to be employed by building designers, architects and painters to allow clients to interact in a realistic way with a space before making concrete design-based decisions. They’re serious game-changers at IKEA, where customers can place products true-to-size in a space by downloading their app. In construction jobs, the same tech is creeping in to test structural changes onsite before they’re implemented.
Inventory management systems
Forget grubby notepads and lost pencils, the tradies of today are managing their admin to-dos – taking stock levels, producing reports, tracking third-party pricing – with specialised inventory management software. The new tech allows employees in construction jobs to work within budgets without having to manually update records, an automation which can be done on-the-job with a field scanner to save time and cut back on costly admin hires.
Servicing something but struggling for a proper view? For tradies undergoing site and safety inspections this can be a regular struggle. Electricians checking hard-to-reach power poles, arborists sussing potentially hazardous trees and skylight installers working with particularly high roofs are among the professionals now employing drones to act as an extra set of eyes. Their real-time data capturing capability is a huge safety plus on-site, as feedback is accurate and immediate.
Being able to 3D-print building parts, electronics and printable cement in-situ is revolutionising the construction industry, with the convenience of not having to head off-site for supplies upping productivity levels, boosting on-the-job efficiency and reducing transport costs. The layer-wise construction approach uses less energy and fewer resources too, producing up to 30 per cent less material waste and fewer carbon dioxide emissions. A total game-changer for builders, brickies and construction workers.
Inspired, much? Make sure you’ve got the STEM skills to get employed! Head here for our checklist.
Author: Cassie Steel
As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.