More job site managers and workers are utilizing robotics and AI to increase their productivity and improve safety in construction zones.
In June 2019, Mortenson Construction became one of the first major construction firms to adopt robotics use on a major scale. They partnered with Built Robotics to gain access to driverless excavators and other automated heavy equipment. The automated excavator from Built is primarily used to dig 100 ft. diameter wells for wind turbine projects, says Guarav Kikani, vice president of strategy and operations at Built Robotics.
Enhanced job site safety is one of the most attractive reasons for adopting more robotic technology. Using automation to run bulldozers and skid steers has proven to be safer and faster for excavation projects such as trenching oil and gas lines.
The program that controls the automated machine creates a task for the equipment to perform and employs a geofence to keep the machine within a defined area.
Automated construction equipment operates safely by using cameras and LiDAR sensors to avoid collisions with pedestrians, structures, and workers. Hardwired and wireless emergency stop buttons provide a manual override in case the automation or sensors malfunction.
Job sites are also made safer for workers by using robotics to perform repetitive tasks in potentially dangerous situations. Advanced Construction Robotics developed a product called TyBot that has made rebar tying for bridge-building projects significantly safer for workers and has decreased worker injuries caused by the repetitive tying motions and extended time spent straddling hazardous rebar frames.
Robotics can dramatically affect productivity on the job site. Before automation, machinery downtime during off-hours and overnight was a significant cost to construction companies. Applied robotics in construction have enabled several tasks to be performed throughout the night by machinery alone. A worker simply fuels the equipment, greases its parts, starts the program, and the equipment continues its work. Once the software senses the task has been completed, the machine automatically stops and turns itself off. The cost of idle equipment is significantly reduced and projects are completed more efficiently.
There is some concern that AI and automation will take jobs from humans, but that’s not the case in the construction industry. Foremen, workers, and unions are excited about the use of robotics in construction. Workers have been forward-thinking in their adoption of robotic assistants because it enables them to do their jobs faster and with less risk of accidents.
Automated tech can handle the tedious, repetitive tasks and allows workers to focus on higher-value work out of harm’s way. Unions have been quick to adopt automation and AI as valuable tools that are helping to solve their labor shortage problems. Workers are also able to stay in their career longer by moving into the role of robotics technicians without continuing to physically exert their bodies as the workforce continues to age.
Sierra View is embracing robotics for the safety, productivity, and welfare of our workers. We maintain that consistently adopting new technology improves every aspect of how we serve our clients and our employees. If you have a project that could benefit from reduced costs and better efficiency, reach out to us. With over 40 years of experience and a forward-thinking attitude, we have the balanced approach you are looking for in a General Contractor for your design-build project.