Technology is step by step taking over construction and changes the way a project is carried out. It is expected that the need for manual labor will be significantly decreased in the near future, as a considerable amount of work will be conducted automatically. Robots can offer great help in tasks that require accuracy and speed. On top of that, they can easily overcome issues on the site that are linked to human strength limitations or physical weariness.
The Meeting Point Between Humans And Robots
In order for the use of robotics in construction to be successful, there’s a strong need for combining the robot and human presence in a way that they supplement each other. Finding that desired meeting point can be challenging. We need to bring the top performing traits of each side together in order to maximize efficiency. A detailed categorization of the different strengths and weaknesses of each side can help a lot in reaching as close as it gets to a harmonic cooperation between humans and robots.
The main idea, in this case, is that construction workers should primarily focus on tasks where their presence is absolutely necessary, while robots can take over in cases where extraordinary strength and speed is essential. The talent of humans in taking care of the small scale projects where delicate handling is necessary can be the perfect match for robots’ ability to complete bigger tasks in remarkably less time. It’s, then, understandable that robots can bring a noticeable change in construction. But, of course, they have both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of using robots in construction
Starting from the benefits of using robots in construction, it’s no exaggeration to say that they can transform the industry to a great extent. Below you can find some of their main advantages:
Fewer Mistakes on Site
One of the most important advantages of using robots within construction is the minimization of mistakes. Robots can guarantee accuracy and in that aspect can lock human errors out of the construction process. This applies both to the job on site and on the scheduling and planning of the entire process. Fewer mistakes will result in fewer delays and repair activities. All these elements can have a positive impact on the budget of the whole project.
Lower Cost for the Construction Process
As we already mentioned above, robots can play a vital role in reducing the overall cost of the construction process. The minimization of project delays in conjunction with the lower amount of time that will be required for the completion of a task can limit the expenses. This can eventually lead to more affordable housing options.
Protection of the Workforce
Including robots in the construction process can have two critical benefits for construction workers. First of all, it ensures that they stay in better condition for a longer time. Robots can now be in charge of the heavy manual labor leaving people on site to supervise the whole project. Moreover, workplace safety will be also improved, given the fact that some of the most dangerous tasks on site operation will be conducted automatically and with higher accuracy.
Improvement of the Industry’s Profile
It’s no secret that the construction industry isn’t that effective when it comes to the promotion of its profile. There’s a general sense around it, that it’s a slow and monotonous field. This can change dramatically if the robotic machinery gets incorporated into the construction process. Suddenly, construction will start becoming appealing for younger people who want to follow an ambitious career connected to new technologies. The arrival of young and smart people in the industry will provide big solutions to the labor shortage problem that construction is currently dealing with.
Constructions of Better Quality
Robotic machines can perform tasks not only faster but with higher precision, too. This can eventually lead to more enduring construction structures that can fit perfectly to their surroundings. In other words, robots can offer in the near future more long-term building solutions. Furthermore, they can promote new building forms (e.g. green construction).
The automation of the construction process allows CMs to plan their projects more effectively. Increasing the precision of the whole procedure will allow all the agents working within construction to stick to the given deadlines and save both time and financial resources.
Disadvantages of using robots in construction
Integrating robotic machines within construction has a number of benefits, but it has certain drawbacks, as well. Some of the most worth mentioning disadvantages are the following:
Fewer jobs within construction
The advent of robots within the construction process will offer exciting opportunities to people who have a strong interest in new technologies, but at the same time it will cut a considerable amount of on site jobs. Robotic machinery can’t, of course, fully substitute the human presence but it can surely restrict it to a significant extent.
Cost of acquiring the robotic machines
We noticed before that robots can play a beneficial role in your budget during the construction management procedure. Nevertheless, the cost of buying the machinery remains extremely high. Because of that, there’s a strong chance that the best technology will be accumulated to fewer companies that have the financial capacity to acquire them. As a result, many small or medium scale construction companies may eventually go out of business.
Acquiring the right machinery is one thing. Having someone that knows how to handle it, though, is something different. A noticeable amount of time and money will be required in order for companies to train their employees on using this cutting-edge technology. But it’s something that should be seen as a long-term investment, given the impact that robots can have on the management of a construction project.
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Examples of Robotics in Construction
Now that we have a complete image around the harms and benefits of using robotics in construction, it’s time to take a look at some of the applications that they could have in the industry.
Robots with the ability to conduct masonry work are already available in the market. Their use isn’t extensive yet but they are already offering great help on various construction sites around the world. The speed and the accuracy of their moves are truly unique.
Street Laying Machine
Street laying machines are another version of robotic machinery which is already available in construction. The supply of the machine with bricks is still conducted manually, but the rest of the task is fully automatic. This allows for better and faster results.
The project that was presented by the company Gramazio Kohler Architects back in 2012 can be quite soon part of the everyday reality on site. With the help of the robotic expert Raffaello D’Andrea, they showcased that drones can put together solid architectural constructions, simply by collaborating with each other. An invention like that could change completely the way we conduct work on site. The completion time of a project can be remarkably decreased, improving in that way the on site productivity.
Autonomous Mining Trucks
Autonomous trucks are already doing a great job in construction. They will be a serious game-changer in the upcoming years. Their use allows for higher productivity on site and lower operating costs. Increased safety for people working on site is a big advantage of autonomous vehicles, too.
Remote Control Bulldozer
Bulldozers that can be controlled remotely is one more kind of autonomous vehicle which is really worth mentioning. The ability to remotely drive your bulldozer offers a lot in terms of safety. On top of that, it can offer to the person who controls it a better sense of space. In that way, it allows you to prevent any serious accidents.
3D Printed Bridges
3D printing will also be a significant component of construction’s future. The construction of the first 3D printed bridge in Netherlands is an impressive example of the potential that this technique has. The bridge will be made out of steel and it has the ability to carry out the printing process in mid-air with no supportive structures. You can have a look at this spectacular construction effort on the video below.
In a nutshell, it’s obvious that the future of robotics in construction looks very bright. The biggest challenge lies in the effort to combine the human and the robotic presence in a way that will allow us to take the most out of their collaboration. The arrival of robots in construction will be a game-changer for the whole industry and for that reason, it’s crucial to make sure that we are following the right steps during this long procedure.