What Robots Can Do For The Construction Industry
We only have to look at the emerging manufacturing trends to see that robotics are becoming a huge part of making and designing. But, what specifically are robots doing for the construction industry? And, is it a good thing? The intervention of robots can mean reduced labour costs, consistent production and increased safety. However, a common concern out there is that robots could take away our jobs. We take a look at the five major things that robots can do for the construction industry and turn to our in-house experts to discuss whether this is a good or bad thing for employment in South Africa.
Heavy lifting and repetitive tasks – Laying bricks is time consuming and repetitive. But, it doesn’t have to be. The answer is, get a robot to do the hard work for you! There’s the SAM100, which is a bricklaying robot for masonry construction – it does the repetitive and strenuous task of lifting and placing each brick for you. Alternatively, take a look at the Tiger Stone Paving Machine, a fascinating machine that literally lays bricks like carpet.
Controlled and safe demolition – Demolition can be hard work and, at times, unsafe. But here’s where robotics can help: Enter the Husqvarna DXR series of remote-controlled demolition robots. These hard-wearing and easy-to-use machines will do the demotion for you while you just stand back and watch. Similarly, the Japanese construction company Komatsu use Skycatch drones to act as the ‘eyes’ of a bulldozer. The footage is then fed to an unmanned machine to carry out the demolition.
Navigation & measurement – Robots are now being used to navigate construction sites and work on layout and measurement tasks based on CAD drawings or BIM models. This architectural navigation by Theometrics gives accurate results and hugely reduces the time humans need to spend on monotonous tasks.
Real time updates – Drones can help with construction projects in many ways by their bird’s eye view functionality. But, they are particularly useful at speeding up logistics by giving real-time progress reports, updates and generally monitoring a project’s progress.
Build more houses – 3D printing is most certainly a new and innovative technique in civil engineering but it’s also playing a part in the construction of houses. A team at Loughborough University in the UK developed a 3D concrete printer with a robotic arm. This advanced tech dramatically cuts down time and cost and, while it’s unlikely we’ll be 3D printing whole houses, this will definitely be a way of printing parts quickly and cheaply.
Where does this leave us?
It’s clear that robots have a place in construction and provide many benefits such as savings in time and cost, accuracy and safety but where does this leave us as humans with employment? We checked in with the experts here at Baker Baynes to get their thoughts on the impact robotics will have on employees.
“Robots cannot replace humans, they’ll only make us more efficient in what we do. You just need to look at the financial industry when ATM’s hit the market. They quickly became popular but it didn’t reduce the tellers required in a bank, instead banks saw this as an opportunity to scale their businesses.” – Thabelo Netshivhungululu, BIM Specialist.
“Advanced technology will improve outputs as things can be done faster. However, I don’t think robots will completely replace human work. Humans will just have limited input.” – Feroza Mobara, BIM Specialist.
“Robots are an advantage in many industry sectors. They will improve products and eliminate risk due to human error. Faster production, and more configurable personalised products can be achieved with advanced tech and human jobs specs will just change accordingly.” – Daneel Ballaram, Head of Product Design and Digital Manufacturing Services.
All three of our experts agree that robotics and advanced technology will only enhance our work, not take it over. Therefore, robots will be a positive move forward for the construction industry – we recommend embracing it and discovering what tech can do for your business! Here at Baker Baynes we specialise in helping businesses adopt the technology they need to help deliver a better project – get in touch to see how we can help you.