Digital Trends in Engineering

How has the building services industry changed in the digital age?


Whilst building services engineering may only have been recognised as a specific discipline during the 20th century, the roles it encompasses have been an integral part of the construction and engineering industry for centuries. Going all the way back to ancient Egypt, the design and installation of wind catchers as a form of air conditioning is just one example of what could be considered the earliest building service engineers at work.


Changing technology in engineering

Technology has come a long way since then and as we advance further into the digital age, its impact on engineering within the building services industry has become more and more significant. Gone are the days of drafting paper and drawing boards. By the late 1980s the use of CAD software had become common in engineering design and digital technology has since grown exponentially and now plays a fundamental role in all aspects of engineering.

Constantly challenged to make improvements in performance and efficiency, along with an increased focus on sustainability, new digital technologies have given building services engineers access to tools and methodology that have revolutionised many aspects of their work.


7 digital technology trends in building services engineering

The digital age has had a huge impact on the way building services engineers carry out their job and many new skills have had to be learnt to adapt to the new technology. The following are just some of the technologies that now play a significant role in engineering.


  1. Building Information Modelling (BIM)

BIM has revolutionised the way building services are designed, coordinated and managed. By creating detailed models of buildings and their infrastructure, BIM enables data to be managed more efficiently and for engineers to collaborate and share information more easily with other professionals involved in the project.

  1. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

AR and VR technologies are being increasingly used by building service engineers for visualisation, maintenance and training purposes. They allow professionals to experience virtual models of a building and to interact with equipment and systems before construction or installation. This can help facilitate better decision making and improve the overall understanding of complex designs or equipment.

  1. Mobile technology

The use of smartphones and tablets has become second nature to most of us, but there is no denying that mobile technology has played a significant role in engineering. These devices eliminate the need for paper-based documentation, allowing engineers to access drawings and specifications off or on site. They also make communicating and collaborating a much easier and more efficient process.

  1. Drones

Drones are increasingly being used to inspect sites and collect data. They are especially useful for examining high risk or hard to reach areas. The images and data captured by drones can be used by engineers to make more informed decisions to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of design and maintenance processes.

  1. Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is a technological science that creates accurate 3D scans of physical objects. The images and measurements can then be used to create 3D models of existing buildings and infrastructure which can be leveraged by engineers to improve the design or retrofitting of relevant systems.

  1. Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart sensors

Sensors on equipment and materials allow engineers to collect data easily and efficiently. Wearable tech can also enable hands-free data collection. Combined with cameras, this monitoring technology can relay real-time information to inform asset management systems of the condition of a particular piece of equipment or system.

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data

AI algorithms and big data analysis can optimise many operations for engineers in the building services sector, enabling them to improve design, maintenance and energy management. By analysing vast amounts of data, engineers can identify patterns, predict faults and optimise performance for energy efficiency contributing to a more sustainable and cost effective infrastructure.


The effect of digital technology on the role of building services engineers

New technologies are changing engineering practice and in turn, the behaviour and skills of engineers. There are many benefits of automated systems for design and analysis of equipment and processes within buildings, but the human element is still required to facilitate and optimise the use of these technologies. However, it is necessary for engineers to adapt and evolve their skills to a new way of working alongside digital technology to solve engineering challenges and processes.

As the digital age continues to advance, the role of building services engineers will continue to evolve as they incorporate these technologies into the tasks they perform.

New technologies have transformed the way engineers work by providing them with advanced tools that enhance collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness throughout the design, construction and maintenance phases of a building project.

If you are looking to take the next step in your engineering career within building services, visit our engineering page for more information and to search our current jobs. If you would like to speak to one of our consultants, you can call us on 01483 768600.