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Construction Companies Are Welcoming Their New Robot Workers

Although automation is transforming nearly all industries, it is the construction industry that may be breaking ground for robot workers.

There appears to be a tight connection now between construction and tech, with new companies inspiring greater heights of innovation in software, drones, and robots. One of the major catalysts is that construction firms are facing a skills shortage.

One mining plant manager said that it is presently difficult finding qualified people to handle industrial equipment or even manage a plant. He felt it was a case of everyone wanting to work in an office instead of an environment where they might have to get their hands dirty.

Workers at a Colorado masonry company were recently introduced to a bricklaying robot worker named SAM, or Semi-Automated Mason. Using a robotic arm and conveyor belt, SAM can lay 3,000 bricks in a typical eight-hour workday. Instead of worrying about losing their livelihoods, the employees are positive about the idea of automating some of their more routine tasks.

Brian Kennedy, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers representative, said that there are certain tasks that require skilled bricklayers, so SAM does not pose a threat. He confirmed that his organisation is in favour of any technology that supports the masonry industry.

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Former Google engineer Noah Ready-Campbell founded Built Robotics, which designs self-operating construction vehicles such as backhoes and excavators. The son of a construction worker, he explained that Built Robotics uses automation to make construction safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective. The robots do most of the repetitive, monotonous, and dangerous work. The operator does the skilled work, which calls for ability and experience.

Other machines analyse the work itself and generate reports. Doxel is a robot that monitors whether a construction project is progressing according to schedule. By tracking and examining activity at a hectic job site, Doxel can monitor progress and detect potential issues before they arise.

Developers are also using drones to simplify time-sensitive processes. One drone from Kespry employs 3-D mapping to survey and tally large piles of sand and rock across dozens of acres in under two hours. It would take an entire day for a contractor with a laser mounted on a truck to accomplish the same task.

George Mathew, Kespry CEO, explained that using the drone is safer, faster, and provides access to up to a hundred times more data, making it a game-changer for a lot of construction work being done today.

Specialists in Construction Insurance

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