What Automation and Robotics Can Do for the Construction Industry

Rachel Smith, Applied Technology Review | Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Hundreds of businesses are already well-prepared for the future, outfitted with connected equipment, devices, and robotics that automate hazardous, time-consuming, and wasteful industrial processes.

FREMONT, CA: Although construction has consistently ranked as one of the least digitized and innovative industries in the world, with overall productivity growth declining since the 1990s, recent research indicates that the industry will "look radically different five to ten years from now." Due partly to the impact of increased digitization due to the COVID-19 issue, this finding is especially relevant for enterprise construction firms, as any movement toward digitalization—however tiny or slow—may have repercussions throughout the industry.

Among these trends, construction professionals should anticipate significant safety gains from increased automation, as well as an inflow of new, digitally savvy people and coherent software that will help workers collect and analyze data more effectively.

WITH THE EXPANSION OF ROBOTICS COMES THE EXPANSION OF SAFETY

Customized remote work tools are one of the most pressing needs of the construction sector due to the pandemic. Whereas other, more digital businesses adapted more quickly to implementing shelter-in-place limitations, many commercial building projects came to a standstill.

Even with increasing relaxation of constraints, the majority of businesses required a total reorganization of their operations. Construction organizations may effectively assign a single worker to a job site to collect data and track progress, rather than entire teams of employees, hence reducing the risk of viral infection. When used in conjunction with the appropriate analytical software, this way of tracking job site development permitted enhanced remote collaboration via live streaming and shared 3D maps/models.

Apart from pandemic-related applications, drones and industrial robotics have long enhanced workplace safety standards. Rather than dispatching workers to remote places or conducting lengthy and costly on-site assessments, building firms can utilize drones and ground rovers to compare aerial and interior maps to design plans, discovering any difficulties or deviations in advance. Additionally, this proactive strategy results in more efficient and safer quality assurance/quality control inspections to guarantee that job sites adhere to existing safety rules.

AUTOMATED TOOLS CAN ASSIST IN THE ATTRACTION OF NEW TALENT

On the building site, this manifests itself in the shape of improved robotic and image-capture gear in the hands of on-site personnel. Businesses across various industries are already noticing an increase in demand for commercial drone training and interest in developing drone expertise. The FAA forecasted in 2019 that the retail drone industry will treble between now and 2023, considerably exceeding previous projections.

With drone skills becoming increasingly desirable, particularly for consumer delivery and distribution, construction organizations should engage in drone and automation upskilling programs for present and prospective personnel.

THE CHANGE SPEED

The commercial construction industry is still filled with highly specialized jobs and positions that automated technologies cannot simply replace; yet, these tools will assist in bringing about the industry's long-overdue digital transition. Construction professionals will benefit from several safety and efficiency benefits from drones and robotics, propelling the sector toward a more data-driven and agile working environment.

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