Construction is a booming industry, with demand for construction workers exceeding supply in the United States. The unemployment rate is at an 18-year low and this has led to increasingly higher wages. Such high demand could be contributing to potential shortages of workers in the industry over the next decade.
In order to address this issue, many developers are looking into using technology instead of humans to complete jobs—especially on large commercial projects. They believe that robots will not only reduce labor costs but also help improve safety for workers and increase efficiency.
Types Of Robots Used In Construction Industry
By 2023, the market for construction robots is anticipated to be worth USD 166.4 million, expanding at a CAGR of 16.8% from 2018 to 2023.
Construction robots are increasingly becoming a staple on construction sites as they can perform various tasks such as lifting and carrying construction materials. This has led to concerns amongst construction workers who fear that they will be replaced by robots.
However, construction industry experts believe that there will always be a need for human workers on construction sites as robots are not able to perform certain tasks such as problem solving.
1. Self-Propelled Mobile Robots
With the tightening labor market, these are becoming more competitively priced and popular with developers. They are used both indoors and outdoors, for work such as laying asphalt, tiling a floor and preparing construction sites for groundwork.
Such machines offer numerous benefits including increased safety, productivity, ease of use and accuracy of the outcome.
2. Scissor Lifts/Telescopic Booms
These assist in over 12% of building maintenance jobs across the world. They are lightweight and help workers reach hard to get parts of buildings easily without causing them any fatigue.
3. Wire-Guided Robots/Autonomous Robots
These are as small as a football and are able to navigate on a pre-set path through the facility. They can be used for indoor works such as conducting inspections, welding and bulk material handling. They are also used in warehouses for picking and placing goods into inventory racks.
Other emerging technologies that are gaining in popularity include: smart trucks; intelligent vehicles; intelligent machines; smart machines and automated concrete pumps, among others. All these technologies help to improve efficiency, safety and accuracy of execution.
They also increase productivity by allowing workers to spend more time doing the jobs they love rather than doing the same job over again every day—which could lead to fatigue or injuries.
Benefits Of Robots In Construction Industry
By 2050, Asian cities are projected to have 52% of the world’s urban population, which will generate the greatest labour force.
Construction projects are increasingly using robots instead of human labor. These construction robotics, or industrial robots, are autonomous vehicles that can perform tasks such as welding, painting, and moving materials.
This shift away from human labor is due to the increasing cost of construction projects, as well as the need for more accuracy and precision in construction.
1. Increasing Productivity
Robots help in increasing productivity and reduce the workload among workers. Since they are programmed to complete a task without deviating from their pre-set path, they only do what they are programmed to do which is why they can learn how to do the same job over and over again.
After you teach them once, they will continue to complete the same job flawlessly. Human workers are not able to focus on just one repetitive task throughout and will tend to make more mistakes, affecting the quality of their work.
2. Helping Save Money On Labor Costs
In December 2017, the Construction Division of Husqvarna Group reached an agreement to purchase Atlas Copco’s Light Compaction & Concrete Equipment division (Sweden).
Upon deployment, robots can save developers up to 75% of labor costs for repetitive jobs. In addition, the savings are on an ongoing basis as robots don’t require health insurance or vacation days. They also help in reducing the number of workers required to complete a task and reduce recruitment costs.
3. Helping Maintain Safety Practices
Aside from increasing productivity, robots can also increase safety. These were originally programmed to follow a pre-determined route and cannot deviate from it due to their machine learning capabilities.
They do not cause any harm to humans, making them safer than human workers. In addition, robots can be programmed to stop whenever they encounter a person or a hazard.
They are also programmed not to cause any harm to the environment and workrooms in which they are deployed.
4. Helping Tackle Repetitive Tasks
Robots can complete repetitive tasks like welding and painting with much more accuracy than human workers as they do not make any mistakes due to fatigue or distractions.
5. Making Waste Management And Cleaning Easier
Robots can be programmed to follow pre-determined paths and perform the same tasks over and over again creating fewer items to be thrown away or disposed of.
They are also able to complete repetitive tasks much more efficiently than human workers, saving developers time and money.
Since they can complete the task they have been programmed for without deviating from their path, they do not make mistakes or mess up at all which saves developers from having to do any repair work or re-programming.
6. Reducing Marketer’s Risk
Fastbrick Robotics received USD 27.6 million in November 2017 with the help of domestic and international institutional investors.
Once deployed, robots stay in a certain area minimizing the risk of losing them for resale purposes. They also do not require any maintenance, which helps save the marketer from the must spend on recruiting and retaining human workers.
7. Being Highly Accurate
With their precision, robots are able to complete any task with high accuracy. A robot can be programmed to perform certain tasks with great precision and accuracy without causing any harm to humans or damaging anything in the area.
In addition, they can be programmed not to cause any harm to humans or other objects. This helps save developers time and money as they do not have to hire people just for repair purposes and do not need them at all unless they are programmed differently each time.
8. Reducing Overall Time, Cost And Effort
Robots can help improve efficiency and reduce costs by reducing the amount of labor required to execute a job. The savings are on an ongoing basis as robots do not require any on-going maintenance or support.
They also save developers from hiring and paying for people, which saves them money. Since they are programmed to perform the same tasks over and over again, they can save developers from having to spend money on training human workers.
Risks Of Robots In Construction Industry
Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used on construction sites, leading to fears that human workers will be replaced by machines. However, prior written permission is required before any construction jobs can be carried out using AI.
By 2050, the United Nations Population Division projects that there will be 9.5 billion people on the planet, with at least 64% of those people living in urban areas.
Construction machinery is a vital part of any construction company. Skilled labor is required to operate these machines, and construction firms must constantly update their construction technology to stay ahead of the competition.
1. Increased Cost Of Automation
While robots have the capabilities to increase productivity and reduce labor costs, they can be very costly. For example, a single robot can cost upwards of $30,000 – $100,000 depending on its functions. The high upfront cost as well as the cost of upkeep required should be considered when deciding to use robots in your business.
2. Lack Of Diversity In Robotic Workforce
Another risk is that robots are not diverse enough to work with other machines or to perform tasks that require a high level of human flexibility such as carpentry or plumbing.
They also cannot be programmed to account for the human factors like creativity or emotion, which is why they are not ideal for biomedical applications like surgery. Also, some robots require special skills to be maintained and this may not be affordable for small businesses.
3. Potentially High Maintenance Costs
Depending on the type of robot you use, it may require high maintenance cost. This is because different types of robots can have different maintenance needs.
Some need to be repaired or maintained less often than others while some do not require any repair at all as long as they are well taken care of. There’s no way to know how much your robot will cost you in the long run until you start using it in your business or facility.
Gross funds of USD 34 million were raised by Ekso Bionics in September 2017, including an investment of USD 20 million from Puissance Capital Management (US).
Reliability is another area where robots could be risky. This can be guaranteed with robot manufacturers and service providers but it can be hard to predict reliability in different situations. For example, your robot could fail at the most inconvenient of times which could cause your business a lot of problems, making it not worth using.
5. Lack Of Human Touch And Interaction During Work
While robots can do many things better than humans, they cannot provide the same level of human touch or emotional connection that humans do when doing work in construction. Robots are designed to perform a specific task one time and then only.
They have no ability to adapt in order to make the work environment more comfortable for humans or provide a better end result for them.
6. Lack Of Safety During Installation Or Maintenance
While robots usually follow pre-determined routes and do not cause any damage, they can still be dangerous while they are in use. In addition, they cannot help you identify any issues that might cause serious safety hazards during installation or maintenance.
Thus, you should always consider having human workers present during the installation of robots if you want them to be safe and reliable.
7. No Exception To Human Error
Even though robots are designed to follow pre-determined, paths and can increase productivity, they cannot help you avoid mistakes made by human employees.
For example, if you make a mistake during programming or the robot looses power during installation or maintenance, the robot may still cause harm to humans or damage for the environment.
8. Lack Of Creativity And Flexibility In Robotics
Robots are not designed with creativity and flexibility in mind as compared to humans. They are designed to be programmed and follow their path without deviating from it one way or another. This means that while they can be used in construction projects as well as other industries, they may not be ideal for all kinds of jobs.
Robots are an excellent tool for work in the construction industry. They can help increase productivity and reduce labor cost, but these advantages may not be enough to convince many business owners.
Also, it is not always easy to predict the reliability of a robot in different situations. In addition, robots are not designed for flexibility and creativity which makes them less than ideal for some jobs such as medical or biomedical applications.