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How Robots Are Making Building Easier

Jason Hook

Head of Sales and Marketing

Oct 13, 2016 7:03:00 AM

The building industry is physically demanding. And with an ageing population and a housing boom, the bodies of Australian workers are at a significant risk of injury. 

However, impressive advancements in technology have changed the game as we know it. As more of the industry becomes automated, dangerous tasks are being eliminated and jobs are evolving.

Below we explore how robots are making building easier, and outline what this will mean for construction industry professionals.


Challenges for the Ageing Australian Workforce

It’s estimated that by 2035, around 20% of Australia's population (6.2 million) will be over 65. And this figure is set to dramatically rise again by 2050. This is particularly alarming because by 2050, there’ll only be 2.7 workers for every person over 65. It’s anticipated that the construction and building industries will be strongly affected by this.

In the last two decades, the number of construction workers aged 55 and over in Queensland has grown from 8% to 14.2%, with this trend set to continue across the nation.

Couple this with the consideration that you must currently be 67 to qualify for the Age Pension in Australia, there’ll be more workers operating in physically demanding and potentially dangerous jobs into their old age in the future. This poses an OH&S risk for everyone involved. Automation could alleviate this risk and create more jobs in its place.

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The Four Scenarios for the Year 2036

An in-depth study by CSQ in partnership with the CSIRO focused on the future of the industry over the next 20 years and beyond. Basing their research on the prediction that 75% of all jobs will be automated in the future, they surveyed a wide selection of builders and consulted with numerous industry experts and thought-leaders to get a more detailed picture.

Focusing on two main areas, task automation and innovation culture, they found four main scenarios which will play out over the next two decades. We will discuss them below.


The Digital Revolution

1. The digital revolution will play an interesting role as ‘robot labour’ has not progressed quite as quickly as expected. However, this is set to change as uptake of various BIM (Building Information Modelling) software becomes more commonplace. In an increasingly competitive market, the firms which will succeed are those who adapt to change and utilise such resources which will make their jobs easier.

Australian construction industry professionals are already enjoying the powerful time and cost savings provided by estimating software.

Another important area of the future is virtual reality. Some companies are already using this to massive effect. This is because it allows potential clients to fully envision the project in 3D. It’s a low cost solution to building something and having the client change their mind later.


Smart Collaboration

2. Smart collaboration is the partnering of different firms, people and processes to make production safer and less labour intensive. For example, the building of 3D printed houses in China could see a revolution in the industry.

People are still needed to work on these projects, although their skills will change. For example, project managers can evolve into building assembly technicians; overseeing the robot systems, giving feedback to clients about design and materials.


Global Challenges

3. Global challenges are ever-present in the industry. Markets will open up more in the future, meaning that there will be increased competition, requiring you to stay ahead of the curve. It’s likely that many local companies will deal with this by outsourcing more their less sophisticated work to nearby producers in Asia in an effort to reduce operational costs. 

This means work can also be done more remotely. For example, the increased use of drone for site inspections means that a firm in Australia could potentially do work on a site in the other side of the world without leaving the country.


The Rise of the Robots

4. The rise of the robots hasn’t quite arrived, but when it does, it will change the industry in exciting ways. There is significant foreign investment currently being poured into local technologies, which are soon to emerge. This means that high tech jobs will increase, and with them, numerous resources and operational jobs. 

One example of this is the Fastbrick robot which can quickly print 3D bricks, meaning that the slow and labour-intensive tasks of bricklaying and paving will be made dramatically more efficient and safer. 

The future of the construction and building industry is exciting. Robots and other automation technologies will make building easier, safer and more efficient than ever before.

To see how our powerful Cubit estimating technology is transforming the industry today, book a free product trial by clicking below:

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