The construction industry is traditionally a manual-labor intensive industry. While technological advances have begun to transform the industry, automation is just beginning to impact productivity.
Robotic technology can offer the construction industry many advantages such as automating processes and increasing productivity. In many industries, robotics are already being used to get work done more quickly, reduce costs, and increase precision while eliminating human error. Currently, there are certain areas of construction that are being impacted by robotic technology, it is still in its infancy. As technology continues to evolve, robotics will become another construction trend to watch closely in the coming years.
Here are several areas where robotics has already begun to impact our industry.
- Automated Processes
As robotics becomes more advanced, areas of the construction industry are beginning to incorporate this tech. Specifically areas like manufacturing, packing, and some building processes. Expect traditional construction processes like welding, material handling, packing, cutting, and dispensing to be automated. The result will be greater precision and accuracy throughout all processes, along with significant time and cost savings as well.
- Increased Lean Construction Practices
One major trend in recent years is the shift toward lean construction practices. This ideology is all about increasing efficiency and productivity while reducing waste. Traditionally construction processes produce large amounts of waste, which is not only bad for the environment but significantly impacts profitability. Robotic technology can reduce waste through accuracy and precision. While the initial investment in this technology may be steep for many businesses, over the long-term, reduced waste, and standardized materials will increase profitability.
- Higher Quality Materials
Completely automated robotic systems result in more consistent, higher-quality manufacturing. By removing human error these machines are faster and more reliable ensuring better quality throughout the manufacturing process.
- 3D Printing
The use of 3D printing is growing throughout the industry. It’s now possible to print parts and objects needed in the construction of homes, buildings, roads, and bridges. Robotic machines can automate and standardize the production of parts that can be used throughout projects saving time, and money, and providing consistency.
These are just a few areas where robotic technology is beginning to enter the construction industry. As technology progresses and evolves, we’ll be seeing more use of robotics on job sites in the future.
Why It Has Taken So Long For Robotics To Enter The Construction Industry
Robotics has become common in many industries and it seems like construction should be one of them. However, construction tasks are incredibly difficult to automate. The job site is the primary obstacle to robotic automation.
Robots are designed to complete repetitive tasks in a controlled environment, like an assembly line. Construction sites are pretty much the opposite environment. As a result, robots will need to adapt to real-time changes and variables in their environment with little or no reprogramming to be productive, and profitable. While this is difficult, there are new robots under development that may change this.
As modular construction becomes more prevalent, 3D printers are being developed that can literally “print” an entirely structurally safe building. This technology is also beginning to be used to print bridges, with the first-ever 3D printed bridge being completed in the Netherlands.
Other types of robots that are beginning to make their way onto job sites include bricklaying and masonry robots, demolition robots, and even robot-controlled autonomous vehicles.
In a highly un-automated industry like construction, robots will soon have a major impact on the industry. As companies seek to automate more tasks for the sake of efficiency and productivity, demand will grow steadily and the price of entry will come down.