Get our team’s insights into what the new year holds in store.
As we stand on the brink of another new year, the architecture, engineering, construction, and manufacturing industries are poised for significant transformations. Many of the latest AEC&M industry trends promise to redefine the way we plan, design, and build in the sector.
Since our team specializes in creating the latest cutting-edge learning solutions for companies in these spaces, we’re always keeping a finger on the pulse of new developments, and our experts have identified a few trends we’re excited to watch.
In this article, we’ll delve into seven AEC&M industry trends that are expected to continue transforming the landscape in 2024, including:
- Artificial intelligence in design
- Project sustainability
- Collaborative XR platforms
- Additive manufacturing
- Generative design
- Visualization technologies (VR/AR/MR)
- Cloud collaboration
Learn more below about how these technologies and processes are evolving!
Artificial intelligence in design
The infusion of AI into architectural design processes is set to revolutionize how structures are conceived and planned. AI algorithms can analyze vast datasets, identify patterns, and generate design options that align with both functional requirements and clients’ aesthetic preferences.
Chad Close, Building Technology Manager at Eagle Point Software, says, “All phases of architectural design will ultimately be impacted by advances in AI. Processes involving programming, conceptual design, mapping existing conditions, building code compliance, energy analysis and construction documentation can be streamlined by AI to provide more solutions and reduce manual taskwork.”
AI in architectural design streamlines the decision-making process, allowing architects to rapidly explore a wide variety of design possibilities. This not only expedites the design phase but also opens doors to innovative and efficient solutions that may not be immediately apparent through traditional methods.
Close highlights how AI will help in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, too: “Artificial intelligence will also impact HVAC and piping design, helping designers to create more coordinated systems before construction and better system performance after construction is finished.”
As AI continues to evolve in 2024 and beyond, architects and designers will find themselves equipped with powerful tools that enhance their creativity and efficiency.
The growing awareness of environmental impact and the need for sustainable practices are driving industry-wide changes. Sustainable designs not only contribute to a healthier planet but also align with the preferences of environmentally conscious clients. From eco-friendly materials to energy-efficient project specs, this value-forward trend can drive a lot of changes.
Mike Ivanov, Content Development Manager for Eagle Point Software, expects sustainability to play a pivotal role in shaping projects and influencing decision-making in the AEC&M sector.
“Sustainability is a growing trend we’ll address in 2024,” he says. With this trend in mind, he highlights a few pieces of software he expects to be especially relevant: “Particularly those pieces of Bentley, Autodesk, Solidworks, and Procore technology that help or improve sustainability —such as Revit Insights, for instance.”
Collaborative XR platforms
Extended Reality (aka XR) platforms are becoming integral to fostering collaboration between all the people involved in a project. These platforms enable team members and stakeholders to interact with 3D models in immersive environments, providing a shared understanding of the project at every stage.
Kaleb Motter, Eagle Point Software’s Construction Industry Manager, says, “New XR platforms will enable seamless collaboration between designers and construction professionals in a virtual space, allowing them to identify and address issues in the model before they become costly problems during the construction phase. One notable product introduced this year is Autodesk’s Workshop XR.”
He also highlights why tools like this are more necessary than ever, given the current state of the industry: “As more and more construction workers age out of the industry, there is a lack of new workers entering. This leads to longer project timelines despite the growing demand. Utilizing tools like XR and AI can help smaller teams work more efficiently and focus on essential tasks.”
Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is gaining traction in the construction industry. From printing entire building components to creating intricate architectural elements, this technology is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in construction. The ability to construct complex geometries with precision and speed is reshaping the ways we can build.
Neil Lantto, Manufacturing Industry Manager for Eagle Point Software, says, “Additive manufacturing is becoming more and more of a standard across the board. Much more established each year and is no longer looked at as the odd duck. It’s here to stay; people know what it is, it’s found its place in the manufacturing realm.”
Additive manufacturing offers advantages such as reduced construction time, cost savings, and the ability to create custom components on-site. As the technology matures, we can anticipate an increase in the use of 3D printing in construction planning.
Lantto continues, “Because of additive manufacturing, Generative Design is becoming more normal, but it’s still in that phase where it’s not widely used and is still relatively niche.”
Generative design is a computer-aided design technique powered by algorithms and AI. It enables designers to quickly generate a range of design solutions and choose the best option based on their specific project goals. By defining parameters and allowing the system to explore numerous design iterations, generative design leads to solutions that are optimized for specific criteria — whether it’s structural integrity, material efficiency, or energy performance.
This approach not only accelerates the design phase but also results in structures that are inherently efficient and well-suited to their intended purpose.
Visualization technologies (VR/AR/MR)
Visualization technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), continue to advance and find broader applications in the AEC & M space.
Don Quinn, Infrastructure Industry Manager at Eagle Point Software, says, “The utilization of virtual/augmented/mixed reality is gradually gaining more traction for roadway and rail projects. Scalability, hardware performance, and suitable content are the challenges that have slowed the adoption of immersive visualization tools for these infrastructure projects. With the advancements in VR headset technology to handle larger datasets and software developers pushing to expand their road & rail content libraries, XR will become more commonplace in this segment of the AEC industry.”
What’s the difference between VR, AR, and MR in this context? In short, VR enables clients to virtually walk through spaces before construction begins. AR overlays digital information onto the physical world, which aids in on-site construction tasks. MR combines elements of both, offering a spectrum of possibilities for improving the design and construction processes.
The decentralized nature of AEC & M projects, often involving teams dispersed across locations, makes cloud collaboration indispensable. Cloud platforms offer a centralized repository for project data, ensuring that everyone works with the latest information. This not only enhances collaboration but also improves overall project efficiency, reducing delays and miscommunication.
You might assume that cloud collaboration is already an established part of the industry rather than a new industry trend. But in Lantto’s experience, that isn’t the case quite yet.
“Cloud collaboration is becoming more used, more established, but is not yet normalized or stabilized,” he says. “There are still companies not using any form of data management beyond folder structures.”
However, this is changing, as Quinn has seen over his years in the industry: “Each year, more and more clients are moving their projects and workflows to the cloud. The hassle of managing and maintaining siloed environments is rapidly being replaced with cloud platforms.”
Plus, cloud technology is useful for more than internal workflow management. Quinn continues, “Organizations are realizing the value of moving to the cloud for workplace and project collaboration, but cloud collaboration does not stop there. GIS and BIM silos are being broken down as vendors leverage the cloud to provide seamless collaboration between their cloud platforms. This allows for real-time, up-to-date asset tracking and management of data while working in your BIM models or digital twin. Connecting and working across multiple vendor platforms to enhance GeoBIM workflows is yet another big step forward in cloud collaboration.”
As we step into the new year, these trends beckon us to explore the possibilities and push the boundaries of what’s achievable in the dynamic world of AEC & M.
Pinnacle Series, our industry-leading learning management system, can help you embrace these innovations and seamlessly upskill your teams in the new year. If you’re not already a Pinnacle Series subscriber, contact us for a demo or free pilot program today!
If you’re already a Pinnacle Series subscriber, log in now to check out learning resources related to the topics discussed in this article, including a Visualization and Virtual Reality workflow, a learning path on generative design within Revit, a course on additive manufacturing, and more.