Are Bricklaying Robots the Solution to Labour Shortages?

Autonomous constructor Monumental is developing robots to solve the labour, cost & sustainability challenges facing the global construction industry

Autonomous construction company Monumental is working to reinvent the construction industry. The company’s software-defined, autonomous approach aims to create beautiful, bespoke buildings within a single day with minimal labour and maximum safety. 

Monumental has raised US$25m to support its mission to to solve the labour, cost and sustainability challenges currently facing the global construction industry. Specifically, the funding will allow the company to grow its world-class team of hardware and software engineers, scale the number of robots it can deploy on sites across Europe and increase the types of blocks and construction tasks the robots can manage. 

The funding was led by Plural and Hummingbird, as well as Northzone, Foundamental and NP-Hard Ventures, and high-profile angel investors. A recent study estimated that construction robots could increase productivity by 50-60%, with the global construction market on track to reach $15.5 trillion by 2030, and adopting new technology central to this growth. 

“Monumental’s approach is the perfect coming together of ambition and expertise, the rising power and impact of AI, and the shrinking cost and size of cutting-edge hardware to address an industry that’s at breaking point,” says Sten Tamkivi, Partner at Plural. 

“Something significant has to happen if we’re to meet the housing demands of millions and reduce the economic and environmental burden of the built world and Monumental is going to be something significant.”

Construction robots to solve construction issues

Monmumental’s key focus is the development and building of bricklaying robots that move freely around the rough terrain of building sites. The automated approach aims to solve the long standing labour issue that is impacting over half of European countries, whilst addressing the housing crises — in the UK, there is an approximated shortage of 75,000 bricklayers attempting to build the required 300,000 houses annually by 2025. The technology also aims to support the 82 million Europeans said to be at risk of homelessness due to a lack of affordable housing. 

“Europe’s infrastructure has been suffering from the shortage of skilled labourers for years and we’re excited to support Monumental and its innovative approach to solving this challenge,” shares Firat Ileri, Partner at Hummingbird.

“Monumental’s robots won’t just improve efficiencies on building sites, but the technology has the potential to enhance safety, optimise workflows and attract more talent into the field who are excited to learn new skills. We’re confident Monumental will deliver long-term benefits for the industry and society as a whole.” 

The robots are operated by Atrium, Monumental’s AI-powered software to lay bricks with human-level precision, accuracy and efficiency. In practice, Monumental is hireable as a subcontractor which removes the risk for contractors as they don’t need to buy or operate the technology. 

“The construction industry is one of the largest and most important in the world, yet it’s held back by global labour shortages and rising supply chain costs,” comments Salar al Khafaji, co-founder and CEO at Monumental. 

“At Monumental, we’re working to help the industry meet these challenges. Our agile, intelligent, and adaptable robots and software blend human expertise with robotic efficiency in a way that the industry has never seen before. They will revolutionise not just how buildings are constructed but transform the economics of the construction industry itself. We’re delighted to have this stellar team of investors joining us on this mission.”

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