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In Conversation with Essam Refai to Unleash Technology Trends in Construction

Undoubtedly, the construction industry will continue to grow and innovate in the coming years. However, increasing client demand from their builders and higher expectations create a competitive market. But the industry is rising to the challenge. Whether it's labor crises, operational inefficiencies, or outdated software systems, all these aspects impact the workflow of the construction business.

So how is technology influencing the direction of the industry? Let's hear from the industry expert directly:

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Who Did We Interview?

Essam Refai is an award-winning property technology, user experience, and workplace technology expert. He has extensive experience in Smart Buildings, User Experience Technologies, Audio Visual Solutions, Digital Engineering, and Digital Transformation.

He is a Certified Technology Specialist for both Design and Installation (CTS-D & CTS-I) from the AVIXA (Audio Visual Integrated Experience Association) organization (formally known as Infocomm) and is among fewer than 600 certified professionals worldwide.

Let Us Quickly Get To Our Expert’s Point Of View.

Question 1: In the age of COVID-19, how do you see the construction industry in the year 2022? Do you think this year will be a "digital year" for construction professionals?

I believe the construction industry faced many challenges throughout 2020 and '21, especially in Australia, where some states had to lock down entirely for long months.

Hence, the transformation to an entirely digitized experience in some time was a must; from there, many opportunities were identified to transform the industry.

In 2022, we are witnessing a considerable shift in how the construction industry handles projects. From an entirely remote workforce to further adaptation of technologies such as BIM modeling & collaboration, virtual and augmented reality, and a full suite of team virtual collaboration tools.

This brought the clients, design, and construction teams closer in a virtual environment and shortened the delivery time with a noticeable enhanced quality.

Question 2: The construction industry has undergone dynamic changes over the years. What do you consider as the biggest challenge for this industry now?

I believe it's adapting to and accepting the changes. Younger teams within the industry are more active in adapting to new technologies and innovatively delivering their work.

On the other hand, there is still the standard way of delivering work, which may not appreciate the evolution in construction technologies and even challenge it.

Hence, the importance of standards and creating at least a project-based delivery plan clarifies the expectations of technology throughout the project delivery and how the teams can work together to achieve that.

That, in my opinion, is the seed to creating an industry-wide standard where changes are entirely absorbed and adapted.

Question 3: What potential do you see in the latest construction technology trends? Are they capable of boosting the productivity of construction professionals?

100%. Technologies such as BIM collaboration, virtual and augmented reality are creating wonders nowadays on many projects, and saving thousands of hours from the Autocad days or inspecting a site based on a hard copy of the drawings.

Today, you can create and coordinate a live model of all the project services, walk through them using virtual reality, and review them later once completed. Then, validate the installation using an augmented reality layover of the design on the actual site and live reporting of installation defects with virtual markups and notes.

You see, how many hours are saved in such a process and how the quality is significantly better. That's without mentioning technologies that can enhance the construction process, such as 3D printing.

Question 4: Where do you see the construction industry in the next five years? Please share your valuable insights with our readers.

I believe BIM collaboration and modeling tools will become the standard for design delivery and collaboration. Also, virtual reality will be adapted more to prove that experiences work before any construction work.

Augmented reality and immersive applications will be the site inspection and reporting standards. However, adapting to a hybrid or fully remote working environment will give construction companies access to more workers for non-site-based jobs, which will provide the companies with access to a different pool of talent.

Moreover, buildings will become more intelligent and sustainable to create exceptional experiences and limit environmental effects.

We will see the further adaptation of technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, modular materials, Exoskeletons for Construction Workers, and autonomous vehicles, which significantly enhance the site construction process with a positive effect on quality.

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Question 5: In four words or less, what's your prediction about the transforming construction industry?

Human-free, No-Risk, Fast, and Low Cost.

Question 6: What's your success mantra?

Have big dreams, and you will grow into them.

More Details

Essam currently offers consulting services and leads the Audio Visual and UX Technologies team at a top-notch construction company. He delivers excellence to clients worldwide in different offices across all the market verticals. He was awarded the Oceania Young AV Professional of the Year Award by AVIXA in recognition of his achievements and successful career.