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Construction automation is transforming the industry and vaulting it into the future, with advancements in everything from safety to productivity. Teams of every size and niche can take advantage of the many benefits this sector can experience. Every year, technology becomes more accessible, and its capabilities grow.
There are many ways your team can use this technology on-site, but these are among the top benefits of automation.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
One of the clearest benefits of automation in construction is increased efficiency and productivity. This is especially true as labour shortages continue to impact the industry. Associated Builders and Contractors estimates that construction is short at least 650,000 workers as of the first quarter of 2022. Demand for housing is at an all-time high. With the Biden administration’s significant investment in large-scale public sector infrastructure projects, the need for more skilled workers in construction will likely increase through the 2020s.
Construction automation can help fill in the gaps left by labour shortages and boost productivity, even on understaffed teams. This is often done by automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks. For example, intelligent robots have been developed that can lay bricks or tie rebar. One such rebar-tying bot can autonomously tie up to 1,000 intersections per hour, resulting in a 34% reduction in work hours.
These robots free valuable workers from time-consuming tasks and increase overall project efficiency. Adopting construction automation robots can free your team from worrying about running behind schedule due to staffing shortages. Plus, employees will be able to work on the most engaging tasks on projects, not repetitive manual tasks.
Cost Savings on-Site
Another attractive benefit of automation in construction is cost savings around project sites. This can occur in a few different ways. For example, automating tasks in construction can result in fewer errors, which reduces wasted materials and work hours, saving money on both.
Additionally, automating vehicle monitoring and maintenance can prevent expensive breakdowns from occurring. This is one of the top expert-recommended ways to save money on-site and involves using telematics and IoT, technologies that allow for smart remote monitoring on construction sites.
Installing an IoT device on a construction vehicle allows you to automate data collection about its performance. Dips may indicate it needs maintenance, so your team can perform minor tuneups before an expensive breakdown occurs.
Another great example is automated site surveying. Your team can use drones to conduct a site survey in a matter of hours with a crew of only one or two people. They simply fly over the site along a methodical, preprogrammed route and use cameras and sensors to scan the terrain. These detailed scans are sent back to a computer where they can be analyzed. This process is faster than conventional surveying and also less expensive since you will save hundreds of dollars that would otherwise be spent hiring a surveyor to spend multiple days performing the same task.
Error and Rework Reduction
Errors can be major issues on construction sites, leading to delays and expensive rework. Automating tasks on-site can reduce mistakes, saving time and money on every project. Errors force workers to go back and spend valuable time fixing the problem and waste expensive materials. There are real savings to be gained from preventing issues.
Construction robots can automate laborious, repetitive tasks like tying rebar, laying bricks or painting floor plans. Bots can perform the same job for hours without diminishing concentration or accuracy. By contrast, any human would inevitably grow bored or tired sooner or later, increasing the likelihood of mistakes.
Automation can also help prevent errors and rework before work even begins on-site. Experts estimate that design errors account for 40%-60% of all construction mistakes, so teams that can address this issue have much to gain. Construction design teams can automate aspects of the design process by using advanced construction design software like building information modelling (BIM). BIM can also help designers identify errors and inconsistencies before submitting designs.
Even tasks within BIM can be automated, such as calculations and documentation, which further reduces the likelihood of errors. The greater visualization and transparency of BIM give a distinct advantage here, as well as the ease of communication and collaboration compared to conventional paper design techniques.
Stronger Safety and Site Security
It is no secret that construction is a more risk-prone industry than most others. However, automation can help address on-the-job risks and keep your team members safe on-site. The clearest example of this is the use of automated robots for dangerous tasks. They can take over functions that would otherwise be dangerous or do things that help keep workers safe.
For example, drones can analyze sites for dangerous chemicals or fumes. This allows your team to work safely on-site and stay informed about risks without putting anyone in unnecessary danger to get that information.
Site security can also be automated using a combination of drones and AI. Security is a key concern on construction sites because it prevents tampering and keeps trespassers from getting seriously injured by accident.
Of course, not all teams have the resources to have someone monitoring security video feeds around the clock. AI can automate analysis using object recognition. An AI algorithm that recognizes any unusual activity in security feeds can automatically alert the appropriate personnel.
You can take this further by using drones equipped with cameras to monitor your site. Simply set up an automated route and the drone will fly around on its own, collecting security footage for the AI.
Utilizing the Benefits of Automation and Construction Automation
Teams of all sizes can access some incredible benefits by adopting construction automation technologies. The benefits of automation include invaluable increases in efficiency and productivity, critical cost savings, materials savings, error reduction, rework prevention, and greater safety and security on-site. Taking the leap and investing in technology to automate projects can give your company a serious edge in today’s fast-paced industry.