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Big Construction Firms Have Their Eyes Set On Automation

Automation has revolutionised factory work. The tech industry has now its sights set on the construction industry and experts forecast robots will be next to take the scene.

All signs point to the fact that the building site of the future is going to look very different to the one we are all used to see nowadays.

It’s a well-known fact that innovation has been slower in the construction industry in comparison to most businesses. Whereas other industries have managed to adapt quickly to technology, construction is still lagging behind, perhaps due to the fact that this technology is not easy to be adopted by small and medium-sized builders and developers.

However, recent news and reports show that this trend is quickly changing among the big construction firms as a result of the recent interest of tech researches, who are now investing their resources and efforts in modernising the way in which we build our houses. Consequently, experts are forecasting that the technology gap may not last for very long.

Automation to tackle labour shortage

With 22% of the current workforce over the age of 50 and numerous construction jobs unfilled across the nation due to a worrisome construction-worker shortage, some of Britain’s biggest construction firms are willing to invest in automation. And slowly, more and more commercial companies will join the ‘race’ to develop innovative solutions to improve efficiency and tackle the industry labour shortage.

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For example, Blueprint Robotics owns a facility in New Jersey where robots are building prefabricated walls, roofs, and floors. And New York-based firm Construction Robotics has developed a robot called SAM (Semi-Automated Mason), which can lay around 3,000 bricks a day. That’s significantly more than most human builders, who can lay a daily average of 500 bricks.


After having completed a handful of projects in America, Construction Robotics is ready to cross the Atlantic Ocean and conquer the British market. In fact, the American company announced early this year that they are hoping to introduce SAM100 in the UK market within the next two years.

For those who worry about how this could affect their jobs, the good news is that this type of robots still need heavily human supervision for tasks like set up, lay bricks at difficult angles, as well as safety and clearing up purposes, so even if automation were inevitable all these robots and machines will still need a skilled human workforce to function properly.  The multinational professional services network Price Waterhouse Coopers forecasts that it won’t be until 2030s that jobs in the UK could be at risk of automation.

Factory floors, factory-built homes

The construction industry revolution is not only based on machines and drones flying over the building sites. The revolution also involves factory floors where homes are manufactured by robots.

Factory-built homes are more popular in countries like Sweden and Japan – where 40% and 16% of residential buildings, respectively, are built with prefabrication -, but they are expected to gradually have an important presence in the UK market to help combat the housing shortage.

Boosting productivity in the construction field won’t be easy. But in a multi-billion industry like this one, even the slightest improvement in efficiency could amount to millions in savings. Some of Britain’s biggest construction firms are aware of it and, therefore, experts say that automation in the industry is just around the corner.

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