The construction industry is one of the least automated industries that feature manual-intensive labor as a primary source of productivity. Whether it’s new commercial construction, renovation, or demolition, robots don’t yet play a significant role in any step of a building’s lifecycle.
However, there are several new robots under development and in the early stages of deployment that could change this. As a highly unautomated industry, construction is poised for a robot revolution.
Why Is There A Need For Construction Robotics And Automation?
Construction is one of the highest waste-generating industries in the world. Further, the increase in population in India indicates that a large percentage of near-future building projects will need to be constructed in resource-scarce areas where supply chains are non-existent or underdeveloped. Thus, with a rapidly growing population in a world of dwindling resources, the construction industry will need to find ways to build more with less.
Another issue is the construction industry’s much-bemoaned shortage of skilled labor. While this reflects a plunge in vocational training and the need for more training and retaining, automation is also an opportunity to fill the gap. Robotics technologies are being developed and more widely distributed at an ever-greater pace, creating a positive feedback loop that leads to lower costs, more research, and more development.
Industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, and even the service sector have realized productivity gains through automation technologies, and how such technologies are beginning to become more available for construction.
Industrial robotics is the need of the hour to resolve the technical challenges and scale up productivity, while also tackling the issue of lack of a skilled workforce.
The Use Of Robotics And Automation In Construction
A multi-purpose drone, bulldozer automation systems, robots cutting, stacking, and packaging materials, and welding structural frames are increasingly becoming a common feature across large and complex construction projects. Technology can also monitor deliveries, inventory and enhance the efficiency of the overall process. This has led to an increase in the demand for various types of robots viz. collaborative industrial robots, logistics robots, building automation, autonomous drones, additive manufacturing, and 3D printing, etc.
Robots also help cope with mundane activities like lifting, shifting, loading-unloading, and other kinds of repetitive jobs, reducing dependence on human intervention and external factors such as fatigue, interest, skills, work timing, and human errors. Apart from addressing the issue of productivity, robots also play a key role in challenging work environments like mines and tunneling, where work has to be conducted in confined spaces and extreme weather conditions: human intervention in these areas is impossible.
Robotics And Automation In Indian Construction Industry
India is poised for growth. Many renowned companies and start-ups are exploring ways to use the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics in the construction processes. Endless Robotics, a Hyderabad-based Indian start-up, is working towards building intelligent robots to solve dull and dirty problems for construction, maintenance, and smart city management.
So, there is clearly a wider scope for the implementation of these technologies in the construction process, right from the initial design stage to on-site construction works to building maintenance functions. Moreover, it can help minimize labor dependence while ensuring increased productivity and quality.
The day is not far when robots working on project sites will become a common occurrence. Drones, which are already in use to an extent will constantly scan sites to collect data, predict and solve problems before they arise. Humans will be able to remotely oversee multiple projects at once. The industry will become increasingly focused on innovation. Construction will become faster, using 3D and 4D printing, and self-transforming objects, which self-assemble.