With Robots set ‘to replace up to 20 million factory jobs’ by 2030*, what impact could the ‘rise of the machines’ have on the Construction industry?
As technology progresses and becomes ever more accessible perhaps it’s not beyond the realms of belief that robots could replace or displace 2.7 million jobs in construction by 2057.
It may seem the stuff of science fiction but they’re already part and parcel of daily life – from the Google/Alexa home hubs to self-scan in the supermarket – and designed to make life easier. So why not make the Construction industry ‘easier’ and effectively more efficient?
Experts believe that much of the building and construction process could be automated in coming years. Drones could be used to capture site data (especially in hard-to-reach or unsafe places), sending real-time 3D models to robots and unmanned machines. Much of the more repetitive tasks could be completed by robots allowing humans to be more productive and work on the higher-skilled elements of their role – or taking it a step further, the robots themselves could be making the more analytical decisions based purely on logic.
It’s likely we’ll see an integration of technology rather than a technological revolution currently and work together to drive the industry forward.
What about Virtual Reality?
That’s VR not VAR (if you’re currently football obsessed); long popular in the gaming industry yet could have huge potential in the construction rather than just the digital world.
Bringing a project to life through VR could prevent inefficiencies in the process and allow teams to immerse themselves in the project before even setting foot on site. Saving time and money by identifying potential issues with planning and highlighting potential safety risks must be two of the biggest benefits of using the technology but what else?***
VR allows you to scale up at pace. You don’t need complicated physical models, you can share detailed, accurate models in the virtual world across teams and geographies. Plus, you can use the feedback to continually improve processes and consistency.
VR allows you to collaborate better. Teams can visualise something without having to even leave their desk. VR makes it much easier to be able to feedback, ask questions, and point to potential issues – all the while saving time and money.
VR improves customer experience. Transparency is a great motivator to build trust. Clients can now ‘virtually’ walk into the model and see what the project outcomes will be. Managing expectations and empowering clients to make smarter decisions in the process. VR can also help sell in the project in the first place – allowing those investors who perhaps don’t have the imagination to see how their investment might take shape.
Let’s take this a step further… what about Augmented Reality?
AR is the evolution of VR; it combines actual physical surroundings with computer-generated information in real-time. Again, giving users the benefit of improving the project by identifying problems far before the build phase – not only improving efficiency and accuracy but helping the teams get buy-in for the projects in the first place. Again, working together with the technology there are massive gains for the industry as the technology progresses.
Whilst we all know health and safety is paramount in construction, could we be close to seeing full on metal exoskeletons on site? Kitting yourself out with wearable technology that is made of metal frameworks with motorised muscles to assist the strength of the wearer may seem like the stuff of 1980s sci-fi, but exoskeletons are widely used in other industries. The benefit of these ‘suits’ could reduce the number of on-site injuries and increase the career-span of workers – with tech and human working in harmony to improve both wellbeing and productivity.
Like most industries, over the generations we’ve seen many Construction revolutions - from using water and steam to electric power and electronics. We’re now potentially looking at the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with technology gradually filtering into the industry to change design, construction, health & safety and ultimately boost the sector in terms of growth. However, this will mean that talent in the industry will have to keep their skills up to date as technology advances.
Working with innovative companies and individuals, who embrace data and digitalisation, in order to promote sustainability alongside social and environmental responsibility, is exactly what we at ALLEN & YORK thrive on. If you’re looking for 3D visualisers or 3D CAD modellers, we can help, get in touch to find out how.