Automating the construction industry with robotics

By Dan Weatherley
Construction robots have begun to take the industry by storm. We explore how the technology is set to shake up the industry like never before...

Historically, the construction industry is one of the least automated and least technologically advanced industries in the world. Construction technology companies across the globe are working hard to change this.

There are so many examples of firms introducing effective technology to the industry right now. For example, multiple companies have been working behind the scenes to create driverless technology for road paving and rollers, in addition to innovative communication tools such as LaborChart.

We’ve seen various robotics solutions from a range of construction technology companies such as Built Robotics’ Material Unit Lift Enhancer (MULE) which has the ability to handle and place various materials on construction sites automatically. Efforts in other areas on-site include the introduction of SAM, short for Semi-Automated Mason which has been designed as a bricklaying robot.

As construction is a highly un-automated industry, a robot revolution is almost certain.

Are they compatible with the industry?

There’s actually a very good reason why the construction industry utilizes so few robots. On-site construction tasks can be very difficult to automate due to the complexity and accuracy required.

Robots work incredibly well in an environment where repetitive tasks are carried out. Unfortuntunealty construction sites are the complete opposite of this which can make the adoption of robotic technology a very complex procedure. Thankfully, some companies have developed, and continue to develop innovative robotic solutions to take on these historically challenging tasks.

Types of Construction Robots

In recent years, a number of different robots have taken the construction industry by storm. The world’s first 3D-printed bridge was in fact assisted by a robot with 3D-printing functionalities. A mobile robotic arm controls a 3D-printer and makes movements based o a set of preprogrammed instructions.

A bricklaying robot was created by Australian-based construction technology firm FBR. Robots have also been used to lay an entire street at a time which can improve the speed, quality and general efficiency of various construction projects.

Demolition robots have also come on the scene recently, these are about to break into mainstream applications across many construction sites. Although they aren’t as quick as human demolition crews, they make demolition operations much safer when demolishing concrete components, whilst reducing the cost considerably.

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Robotics are not just limited to the above processors though, there are so many other types of construction robots, and new innovative solutions are being developed by construction technology companies all around the world. Some of the more recent developments include the use of remote controlled or autonomous vehicles. These are more suited to other operations rather than on-site work, though.

As the construction industry remains relatively un-automated, these new technologies surrounding robotics are set to have a major impact on the construction industry. More and more companies are automating operations meaning the demand for robotics will continue to rise, as they can reduce costs whilst promoting productivity.

For more news and insights in relation to the construction industry, read our latest issue of Construction Global.

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