The construction facility is hugely dominated by robots in today’s world. From elevators, lifters to machinery, there is almost no area of construction where robots are not being used.
To work in this industry, humans require great skills, precision, and efficiency. Construction projects involve a lot of capital and are very risky. So, safety becomes another factor. Hence, one cannot overlook the fact of how important robots are in this industry.
According to a survey by Oxford Economics, robots are going to take over more than 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030. There is no doubt that robots are making their way to industry rapidly. We can even realize that by observing around us. Robotics and automation industry is growing at a very fast pace. This is both a boon and a bane for companies and the workers.
In this article, we are going to look at such advantages and disadvantages of the involvement of robots in the construction industry.
The construction industry is facing a labor shortage due to the global recession. Moreover, the workers are getting aged and facing health issues due to workload. The younger generation is not ready to do such a job. Hence, there is already a need for automation.
There is high availability of autonomous robots, drones, and industrial robots like robotic arms in the market. Companies are constantly working on improving the current designs and integrating them with modern technology like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Robots are currently used in the construction industry to do repetitive tasks and backend jobs that do not require direct involvement in structure building. Autonomous vehicles are used to transport from one place to another safely and more efficiently.
Self-Driving technology is already developed, and it is no big deal if something like this gets implemented in construction.
Even after this much influence, robots are not ready to pass the safety and quality standards of the construction industry. Moreover, there are several fields in the industry that are more likely to get automated. The role of a machine operator is a perfect example of this case.
Advantages of Robots in the Construction Industry
There is no doubt that using robots can be a game-changer for the whole industry and can benefit from it in terms of cost, time, and efficiency.
Let’s have a look at their advantages.
1. Robots Are Productive
Robots can do high-quality work with precision in less amount of time as compared to a human. Robots can work without breaks or holidays. This makes them more productive and reliable.
For instance, pick and place robots from robotic arm manufacturers EVS can easily take over the warehousing facilities efficiently.
2. Robots Ensure Safety
Replacing robots with humans will save humans from doing dangerous work. Robots can lift heavy weights and can work in extreme conditions as well. They can be controlled by the worker remotely.
Hence, they can do the same work without risking their lives. Substituting humans with robots will increase worker safety.
3. Robots Have Good Return on Investment (ROI)
They are capable of manufacturing a greater number of products in less time. Robots can work with high accuracy. So, they reduce the amount of raw material wasted. If we see in the long run, robots can help companies save a lot of money.
4. They Create New Jobs For The Workers
Robots have helped workers by making their work easy. They don’t have to indulge in tedious and repetitive tasks. Instead, they can learn automation skills or programming and apply them while working with new technology.
Workers get to advance in their jobs and get trained for using specific software that controls the robots on the field.
Disadvantages of Robots in the Construction Industry
The points stated above in the favour of robots are true but we all know, completely replacing them will surely have disadvantages like:
1. Cannot Handle Unexpected Situations
Robots can handle repetitive tasks and can even be programmed for complex tasks. But they can only perform the tasks that they are programmed for.
If an unexpected problem occurs, they might not be able to improvise a solution like a human being can. In the construction industry, even a small error can cause a big loss to the company and can put others in danger.
2. Not Autonomous
Robots cannot match human intelligence. Their Artificial Intelligence works on pre-programmed scenarios.
Construction work requires constant reevaluation and improvement in the work after every step. Moreover, uncertainty is very high. Hence, robots need complex algorithms to work in every scenario. This means they need to be constantly updated and monitored.
3. May Increase Unemployment
Substituting humans with robots may seem very productive but it may adversely affect the jobs of all workers.
As discussed above, workers can be trained to work collaboratively with robots but the scope is very limited. While some workers may get trained, many of them will be losing their jobs. Implementation of technology will cut the number of people required for the work.
4. Expensive to Set Up
Automation isn’t cheap. Companies need a significant budget to overhaul their current practices and automate their systems. Of course, this can be done in stages to offset the cost. But even so, even a single robot unit can be really expensive. There are also upgrade and maintenance costs to be considered. Like any machine, robots also go through wear and tear.
Even though the construction industry has its own limitations, many robots like self-driving vehicles, robotic arms, and drones are already being used for planning, design, and manufacturing. These fields are not fully automated though and some sort of human intervention is still needed.
We now have an idea about the scope of implementing modern robotics solutions in the construction industry. The field is still developing to fully cater the automation needs.
But, working collaboratively with trained workers and robots is the only logical solution.