Construction is considered one of the most labour-intensive industries because most of the work is done by humans only. Despite the rapid technological improvement, construction remains the least automated. But with recent advancements in robotics, we can expect rapid changes in building sites worldwide.
The change has already started to happen! Many companies across the world have already begun to develop robotic construction systems. Like, a US-based company Construction Robotics has developed a bricklaying robot, called SAM (semi-autonomous mason). SAM is used to lay bricks. Apart from this, Australian company Fastbrick Robotics has also developed a bricklaying robot that has been used in a number of projects. There are many other companies developing robotics and 3D print to take the construction industry to the next level.
However, there are still so many challenges to be taken care of. Here in this post, we are sharing about the revolution in Building Construction and its impact.
How will construction robots change the industry?
As said earlier, the construction industry is one of the least automated industries, as most of the work is done by labour. Whether it’s a construction of a new house, commercial building, renovation, or demolition of buildings, the human workforce is required. But, many companies have started deploying robots in place of human labour.
However, at the moment, robotics is not used fully in construction. Humans can only perform some construction tasks. The complete automation of construction will take time, as construction tasks are challenging to automate. And the major to robotic automation is the construction worksite itself.
Robots excel at repetitive tasks in an environment that is controlled. And construction sites are just the opposite. Automation can only be profitable and productive when robots can adapt to real-time variability in their environment without the need for reprogramming. In the construction industry, it seems a little complicated at present. However, some robotics are able to take these challenging tasks.
Types of Construction Robots
There are a few different types of construction robots, which include:
1. 3D-printing robot: 3D-printing robot is used to build large buildings on demand. A mobile robotic arm controls the 3D-printing robot, and with the help of preprogrammed instructions, this system 3D prints a structurally-safe building.
Example: Off late, Apis Cor has 3D printed the 2-stories administrative building of Dubai Municipality. This is the largest ever 3D printed project! The project is unique and innovative. It has opened a new chapter both in the concrete 3D printing industry and the construction industry. This project’s primary goal was extensive R & D work that was dedicated to testing the equipment under harsh climatic conditions, developing the 3D printing material and construction technologies, and testing the equipment for an extended duration.
Apart from this, 3D-printing robots are also used to build bridges in the Netherlands. 3D printing and industrial robots are bringing the revolution in the construction industry.
2. Brick Laying Robots: Another trendy construction robots are SAM or semi-autonomous mason. These robots are used for bricklaying and masonry in the construction. Besides, they are also used to lay an entire street at one time. These robots are quite a rage today, as they dramatically improve the speed and quality of construction work.
Example: A New York-based company Construction Robotics has developed the Semi-Automated Mason or SAM. This robot has been used to build walls. Not only it promises increased productivity, but also it reduces the overall labour costs. A SAM can lay bricks faster than humans without getting tired. It can lay more than three thousand bricks in 8 hours, usually done by two human labourers. The advancement in robotics and technology has resulted in increased manufacturing efficiency significantly. However, SAM needs a human partner to smooth over the works.
3. Demolition Robots: Another type of construction robot that’s going to break into mainstream applications is the demolition robot. Though they are slower than demolition crews, they are comparatively safer and cheaper.
Besides these, there are remote-controlled or autonomous vehicles that are used in construction sites. It is believed that construction robots will play a significant role in the construction industry soon. Demand for construction robots is expected to grow, as more and more construction companies are planning to automate to improve efficiency and productivity.
Advantages of Construction Robots in Construction
Of course, automation of the construction industry will benefit the industry by large. There are many advantages of using robots for building construction, like:
1. Minimized injury
We all know the construction industry is a labour-intensive industry. Construction labour has to perform extensive tasks during the construction of buildings, and the chances for injuries are always high. Using robots in construction will eliminate any chance of injury. Having robots in the construction site will avoid any chance of injury in the workplace. Of course, having an employee gets injured in the workplace is one of the worst feelings. Construction automation will prevent it to a large extent.
2. Increased efficiency
Efficiency is what we all look for! A robot can perform tasks faster than humans. The time taken by robots to complete a task will always be lesser than the human labours. There is no doubt that machines can do things much better and much faster. So, having robots performing construction tasks will result in increased efficiency.
3. Robots can work 24 x 7
The human body is meant in such a way that it needs to rest after a few hours of work, which is not the case with robots. Robots can work tirelessly. Any construction site, whether new or old, takes time to complete. Having robots can reduce that time to a great extent because they can work 24 X 7. Moreover, they are able to perform tasks in a wide range of conditions, which humans cannot.
4. Robots eliminate human problems
To handle construction, labourers is not an easy task. More often than not, labourers create problems, like showing up late, not showing up for work, fighting with co-workers, showing up drunk, not doing work properly, etc. All these become troublesome when the project has to be completed urgently. There are many cases where construction managers actually have a real tough time with labourers. Construction managers find it really difficult to manage labourers at work. Sometimes these labourers form unions and groups to create problems. Besides, there are other things that you have to take care of, like their safety, etc. These are not the case with robots. Unlike humans, robots are free of emotions and can be controlled by a set of programs. However, controlling humans is a task. Construction robots eliminate all human problems and increase profitability.
Construction robots can be extraordinarily precise. There are the least chances of mistakes and errors with robots. Of course, not every failure can be endured, especially when constructing your client’s dream project. Believe it or not, people get really touchy when it comes to building their dream house or office. You would not want to offer your clients apologies now and then. In the construction industry, human errors are common. Having a construction robot eliminates the chances of human errors to a minimum. You will be able to have higher accuracy and increased efficiency.
6. Timely completion of projects
With construction robots, construction managers and builders can ensure timely completion of their client’s projects. Of course, this is the easiest way to make your client happy and retain it for a lifetime. More often than not, construction works are delayed because of labour problems. Due to which most builders and construction managers have to face challenges, as their clients get annoyed. However, with construction robots, builders can be sure of completing their projects on or before time!
7. Improved profitability and reduced costs
Last but not least, improved profitability! Profitability is the main objective of any business. And construction automation will eliminate the need for manual labour, which will dramatically reduce the cost. Deploying robots in place of humans will help increase the work speed and save a lot of money, which you give in the form of a salary to your labour. During peak seasons, labourers are paid extra money for working extra hours, which is not the case with robots. Robots can work tirelessly all day and night, which again impacts the overall performance in the construction.
When can we expect to move to a building made construction robots?
In our opinion, this is going to take some more time. We can expect to move to a building made by construction robots in another 20 years now. This means by 2040 or so; probably we would be able to see buildings constructed by robots. Robots need to be a lot more street-smart when it comes to performing tasks in construction sites. They will need to have enough situational awareness to be able to move around a construction site easily.
Impact of Construction Automation on Construction Workers
Undoubtedly, automation in any field directly impacts the workforce. The same is the case with construction workers. Construction automation is a severe threat for those who work in the construction industry. But there is always a way out. There is no doubt that even after complete automation, human labour will be needed in the construction industry. Also, construction automation is going to take time; however, construction workers can use this time to upgrade themselves. They can think of other work avenues, like, starting their own online business.
Don’t forget that the world is already moving towards digitalization. And the future belongs to those who possess digital skillset, as they will be needed to perform the tasks. If you are working in the construction industry and are worried about your future, start learning digital skillsets without wasting any other moment!
All you need to is learn digital skills. Learning digital skillsets is easier. Also, you don’t need to be highly educated to learn digital skills. Regardless of your education, you can learn digital skills and prepare yourself for a better and happier future!