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Construction Robotics – Does It Make “Cents?”

The use of construction robotics certainly presents an opportunity for contractors to address the skilled labor shortage and improve efficiency in the construction industry. Examples such as 3D concrete printers, drones for building scanning, as well as bricklaying and rebar-tying robots, showcase how technology can enhance construction processes.

Investing in construction robotics can have several benefits. These technologies can significantly increase productivity and speed up project timelines. For instance, there is a start-up company in Australia called Fastbrick Robotics which developed a brick laying robot called Hadrian X that lays bricks at a rate of 1,000 per hour, a rate that far surpasses that of a human bricklayer. For comparison, the average human bricklayer can lay around 400 bricks per day. This means the Hadrian X would lay approximately 8,000 bricks during a traditional 8-hour workday, which is equivalent to the number of bricks a human could lay in 20 workdays.

Similarly, a rebar-tying robot can perform its task much faster than its human counterpart. TyBot, a rebar-tying robot that debuted at the 2020 World of Concrete show, is typically used in bridge construction to scan the bridge deck to identify and tie the rebar intersections; it can tie approximately 1,000 ties per hour and completed its 2 millionth job tie in April 2021. A 2 millionth job tie at the rate an average human can tie, which is around 200 ties per hour, would take about 1,250 8-hour workdays (almost three and a half years) to complete, while TyBot completed the work about one year after its introduction.

By incorporating construction robotics into their business models, contractors can achieve higher efficiency and potentially reduce labor costs. With the increasing demand for construction projects and the ongoing shortage of skilled labor, adopting these technologies can help contractors bridge the gap and meet project deadlines more effectively.

However, it’s important for contractors to evaluate their specific needs and project scale to determine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of implementing construction robotics. While these technologies offer great potential, they may not be suitable for every project or construction company. Factors such as project size, complexity, budget, and available resources should be considered when deciding whether to integrate robotics into construction operations.

Furthermore, contractors should also consider the training and upskilling of their existing workforce to adapt to these technological advancements. It may be necessary to provide training programs that enable workers to operate and maintain the robotics systems effectively.

In conclusion, construction robotics can be a valuable tool for contractors to overcome the challenges posed by the skilled labor shortage and improve overall project efficiency. However, it’s crucial for contractors to assess their individual circumstances and project requirements before incorporating these technologies.

About the Author

Zachery Starner

Zach joined McKonly & Asbury in 2013 and is currently a Manager in the firm’s Audit & Assurance Segment. Zach services clients in several industries, including manufacturing, construction, and healthcare with compilation and… Read more

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