- This article was originally written by Ms. Gillian Ross, Secretary General of the Irish Association of Demolition Contractors, IADC, for the EDA Yearbook 2021.
As the industry evolves, Irish Demolition contractors are exploring a range of innovative technologies to transform their operations. The Irish demolition industry is minute compared to some of our European neighbours and building good working relationships remains the number one priority.
Adopting digital mechanisms combined with collaborative processes is currently changing the way in which we design, construct, and deconstruct our built environment. The industry is undergoing a significant transformation with the uptake of Construction 4.0 and the use of BIM. Technology opens up opportunities for early adopters to dominate the tender and contract management phases. Adopting green procurement and sustainable practices is also on the agenda to minimise the environmental impact whilst remaining competitive.
Cloud Based Technology
Cloud based technology is now an integral part of most medium to large construction and demolition sites. The improvement in mobile broadband technologies in the past decade has facilitated this change. Almost every site, no matter the location can now be connected. The great advantage of this is data gathering, sorting and sharing. Head office is now seamlessly connected with each individual site and all types of information such as drawings, progress reports, health and safety updates are instantly available to all organisational stakeholders.
The significant shift to remote working during the pandemic has meant that companies have had to move quickly to adopt digital methods of delivery to ensure the efficient running of their businesses. Video conferencing platforms has allowed for both client and site meetings to take place virtually and saved significant time on travel. Group chat using WhatsApp has become the simplest means for quick, easy communication between user groups and has been useful in communicating with employees seeking additional resources or organising a social night out. Tablets and mobile devices have been beneficial in ensuring greater visibility across projects with online completion of forms and digital signatures speeding up processes, and online documentation reducing the requirement for paper files.
Safety Management Apps
With such an array of Health and safety software systems now available, employers, site management and office staff are communicating better than ever both on & off site. it also assists with adhering to ISO standards and compliance with legal obligations which are set out in Safety Health and Welfare legislation.
Site inspections are carried out on site with the use of smart phones and iPads with all observations recorded and communicated instantly. The Apps provide prompts and assistance in compiling site audits, machine inspections, risk assessment, incidents reports and provide statistical information which improves administration and efficiency.
Apps will also provide reminders and confirmation of when observations are actioned when necessary. See below screenshots of available software systems.
Drone surveys have become commonplace and assists with demolition, tendering, planning execution as well as ongoing monitoring. 360 videos and pictures offer an immersive experience to enhance site surveys and pre contract works and is particularly useful with hazard surveying for inaccessible or dangerous buildings, such as partially collapsed structures.
Businesses are using drone technology to assist with progress reports for online design and client meetings, as well as payment applications. It has allowed for discussions surrounding project issues where a large part of the project team now work from home. This technology complements the static camera systems typically used for remote monitoring and time lapse video production which will continue into the future.
Recording the demolition process through time lapse videos and uploading snapshots to social media sites also helps to market and promote businesses.
Remote Control Excavators
Remote control demolition robots have been commonplace in the last 20 years, but adaptions are now available to ‘standard’ excavators to enable remote control and remote working. These are project specific, but useful in certain situations.
These are some of the technologies that are being used on Irish demolition sites. Transforming a business to become more technologically advanced takes time and financial investment, but contractors see the tangible benefits and opportunities it offers as they keep ahead of competitors and meet market requirements. The construction industry is evolving, and the demolition sector is forging ahead, design, precision and safety are key factors in achieving excellence, but we are on the way.