According to a June 2022 ConstructionDive article, around half of construction companies worldwide are using some type of robotics. The article relates predictions that robotic machines will proliferate on US jobsites within the next two decades. Part of the increase in the use of robotics is owing to jobsite staffing challenges.
The shortage of skilled workers can be alleviated by using robotics that perform work traditionally done by people. Following are six ways robotic solutions are being used in construction today.
In 2023, HP released its SitePrint robotic machine, which automates the site layout process. Work of the robot is complemented by software, a touchscreen, cloud tools for management, and special inks to accommodate a range of layout surfaces.
A LetsBuild article described remote-controlled earthmoving equipment that is being used on construction sites. Controlling the machinery remotely increases safety and gives the operator a better sense of the space something like a bulldozer is operating within.
As construction demand expands into large scale utility solar projects, solutions that streamline the process of driving large piles will be more and more useful. A fully autonomous piledriving robot has been developed for the solar industry. It can perform surveying, pile distribution, pile driving, and as-builts. The Built Robotics robot reportedly can work five times faster than a traditional pile driver, with accuracy measurable in inches.
A four-legged dog-like robot is being used to navigate through construction sites and take photographs for inspection purposes. As the robot collects data on the construction project, it frees up workers to complete other tasks.
- 3D printing – Most people have seen video demonstrations of 3D printers laying down concrete in a methodical, targeted process to build walls. But how about steel? In cooperation with Autodesk, a Netherlands company showcased its method for using a robotic machine and smart software to 3D print in metal and construct steel bridges.
- Masonry – What is described as the first mobile robotic bricklaying system has a crane arm mounted on a large truck. It can reportedly be moved from jobsite to jobsite on demand. The machine handles both the mortar and bricks and blocks weighing up to 99 pounds. The robot builds structures from a 3D CAD model, not only saving time but also helping companies make the most economical use of materials.
New robotic painting machines can complete work on new construction, repaint existing structures, perform maintenance, and create specialty coatings. The robots can take over tedious, time-consuming work, and many operate on a lift controlled by a truck.
There are plans to expand the types of work these robots perform, including caulking and sanding.
From construction site activities and inspections to building and painting, robotic technologies are in a constant state of refinement. Eventually they will be at the point where mass adoption takes place, and construction companies will be able to transcend the shortage of skilled workers affecting productivity today.
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