The construction industry increasingly is exploring the use of robots to boost efficiency and alleviate labor shortages, according to www.forconstructionpros.com. Yet the method of using technology to address construction labor shortages is not new.
Luke Christou, GlobalData construction journalist, says: “The use of single-task robots in the construction industry has been growing for some time. The use of robotics in construction dates back to 1970s Japan. As young workers turned their back on manual labor in favor of less dangerous and physically demanding office jobs, Japan’s largest architecture, engineering and construction companies turned to automation and robotics in an attempt to stem a labor shortage.
“Many of these technologies failed to break ground,” he continues, “and construction’s labor issue persists.”
Turner and Townsend’s 2019 International Construction Market survey shows 66% of construction markets globally report a shortage of skills.
“Labor shortages is just one of many issues that the construction industry faces,” Christou says. “Lacking worker safety is another pressing issue, with construction the leading industry for workplace fatalities in many parts of the world. The industry seems largely in agreement that these significant advancements will first focus on removing humans from dangerous tasks. Automation is also likely to take over the tedious tasks, freeing up time for laborers to complete more fulfilling work.”
For example, construction robotics firm Built Robotics has developed an artificial intelligence guidance system that can be fitted to heavy equipment, allowing the equipment to operate autonomously and reducing the need for human workers.
Stuart Maggs, CEO of Scaled Robotics, emphasizes the importance of creating methods meant specifically for robots. “The end goal has to be not just automating tasks that human beings can do but developing new construction manufacturing methods that are only possible through robotics, opening up new possibilities for building design and performance,” Maggs says.
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