Construction companies have long relied on manual processes to get the job done. But amid a looming workforce shortage and continuous disruption in the fields of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, emerging technology could transform the construction industry in a way that helps contractors accomplish more with less.
It’s a future where employees, possibly limited in numbers, would become increasingly skilled in complex areas, leaving more menial and time-consuming job site tasks to machines that never tire. Here are three ways emerging technology could transform the construction industry in the near future.
Decrease operating costs with ‘cobots’
The idea here is that, rather than replace workers, future machines would work alongside them to improve efficiency, productivity and quality craftsmanship, all while reducing waste. The industry term for these collaborative robots is “cobots,” and they could help lower operating costs by cutting down on labor needs for a project.
In addition to cobots, the rapid growth of automation and artificial intelligence could help improve logistics and manual processes that have historically proven to be time-consuming. This would also save money in the long run.
Additionally, such technology could potentially reduce mistakes on the job site. It would ensure better accuracy by preventing human error. Fewer mistakes would also result in fewer delays and speedier work, having a positive impact on the budget.
Increase human capability and safety
Imagine having access to a machine that works as an exoskeleton to improve the mobility, strength and safety of its wearer. Furthermore, imagine the body stress and damage that would be eliminated with such technology. The idea of a crew member lifting hundreds of pounds without hurting his or her body sounds like a fantasy, but in light of current research and development, it may be closer than you think.
Mobile devices are another form of technology that are already improving human performance on job sites. As these devices become more common, workers can streamline operations by having immediate access to orders, blueprints and other information generated and managed by an artificial intelligence system.
Revolutionize building methods
As mentioned earlier, the technologies we’ve discussed can improve efficiency by taking over tasks traditionally conducted by humans. Here are some examples of capabilities construction professionals have already begun working on for the future:
- 3D printing robots, when given preprogrammed instructions, could “print” entire prefabricated structures in a short amount of time. This technology would help eliminate the need to transport large goods or materials. It’s already beginning to be used for building bridges.
- Brick-laying and masonry robots are in the works and could also be used to create streets.
- Demolition robots, while slower than traditional demolition crews, would be safer and cheaper when it comes to handling concrete and other components.
- Self-healing concrete is another idea of the future. All concrete eventually cracks and needs to be restored. With self-healing concrete, water that enters a crack would reactivate the bacteria that was added during the mixing process, excreting calcite that automatically heals the crack and therefore adds years to a building’s lifespan.
- Transparent aluminum is nearly as strong as steel and looks like glass. Created with laser technology, this innovation brings a futuristic feel to buildings.
Exciting ways emerging technology could transform the construction industry
Some of this technology has a long way to go before it’s ready, but some of it is already available and nearly at the stage of mass adoption. The construction industry is warming to the idea of change, and these technologies just might be the key to our future.