Desperation fuels innovation. With the unprecedented shortage of workers, astronomical costs of materials, and increasing demand for affordable housing, robotics in the construction industry is an inevitable (and welcome) turning point.
Quantum Assembly has embraced robotic construction. But will the rest of the housing industry?
How are Robots Used in the Construction Industry?
Whether we’ve thought about it or not, we’ve used robots for construction for decades. The vehicles and tools we’ve always used continue to become more technologically advanced and autonomous. The next logical steps are entirely new tools and vehicles, which aim to make construction increasingly safer, smarter, and more efficient.
The list continues to grow, but a few of the types of robotics for construction include:
- 3-D printers
- Gantry robots
- Hauling robots
- Bricklaying robots
- Rebar tying robots
- Mold creation robots
- Assembly arm robots
- Paving and concrete robots
- Survey and inspection drones
- Exoskeletons and wearable robotics
- Autonomous vehicles and equipment
- Programmable cutting and welding robots
So the idea isn’t to completely eliminate the need for human workers in the construction industry. Robotics for construction are there to improve safety, handle tedious and dangerous tasks, and free up the limited number of workers so they can focus on the more complex work. Robotics and automation are important tools used by people, not instead of people.
What Issues in the Construction Industry Could Robots Solve?
Some of the biggest challenges of the construction industry today can be improved by the implementation of robotics and automation in construction industry methods. Here are some of those major problems and how the application of robotics in construction industry practices may help:
Robotics and automation in the construction industry pose a high overhead cost, it’s true. But the total cost-saving benefits quickly outweigh the initial cost of the machinery itself:
- Elimination of errors
- Less waste
- Faster task completion
- Reduced need to hire employees for simple and monotonous tasks
- Money saved on Worker’s Comp, overtime, etc.
- Increased productivity and efficiency
- And the ability to work around the clock
Robots can complete simple jobs faster and more efficiently than their human counterparts, so each job requires less staff, materials, and time, resulting in noticeable savings. Those savings can (and should) pass on to the building’s owners and occupants.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry averaged more than 390,000 job openings per month in 2022, the highest gap on record. To top it off, nearly one in four construction workers will soon be retiring. But some of these open positions could be replaced (and improved) by automation and robotics.
Instead of high turnover and seasonal fluctuations, companies can retain a core workforce of skilled people to operate, assist, and work alongside advanced machinery. Even just handing a few simple, physically taxing tasks to a robot — like tying rebar or capping electrical cables; could allow a smaller crew of workers to focus on more complex tasks, reducing the total number of manhours and the need for hiring extra hands.
Build methods like modular construction that aim to save time and money are associated with low-quality end results. But precision software and lasers don’t need to “measure twice and cut once” or rush to complete a job. The advancements in technology are such that they can identify and prevent flaws in materials, cuts, and welds. This is one of the reasons why Quantum Assembly’s buildings are so high quality yet produced at such a high rate.
This means that walls, floors, and ceilings will always fit together correctly. Concrete will always be level. And there will be no variation in quality the way that often happens when there are less-experienced workers on a job site. Unlike people, a robot performs the task exactly the same way every time, with a razor-thin margin of error. This results in less waste, time, and mistakes, which all add up to a higher quality end product that will stand the test of time.
Safety risks to workers
Every year, there are about 1,000 fatal construction incidents, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rate has remained unchanged for a decade, despite OSHA’s best efforts. Robotics may finally change this. Machinery can now take on the most dangerous jobs, like handling heavy loads, applying chemicals like sealant, and performing simple tasks at great heights.
A robotic assembly arm never tires, slips, or pulls a muscle. It doesn’t have to worry about the health risks of inhaling dust or fumes or suffering from hearing loss. Now, companies can focus on retaining a core group of skilled laborers to operate and assist the technology with fewer risks to safety and health.
Slow build times and manufacturing delays
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it takes months to years to create a new building with traditional construction methods, and that’s if there are no delays. A multi-family Quantum Assembly building needs just a few weeks before residents can move in. How? We’ve automated as much of the manufacturing and assembly process as possible with advanced software and robotics.
A 2017 McKinsey report found that annual growth in productivity in the construction industry has been declining for nearly 50 years. Human workers get tired, need breaks, and clock out at the end of the day. With robotics, some manufacturing process steps can run around the clock. This allows workers to maximize their time, reduces errors (and the time wasted on correcting errors), and drastically speeds up the total build time.
Quantum Assembly’s Use of Robotics and Automation in Construction Industry
Robotic construction, manufacturing, and assembly are, in part, what enables Quantum Assembly to produce high-quality, sustainable, and affordable buildings at scale. Our precision software and robotics work in tandem with our team to factory-produce beautiful buildings that can be assembled in a matter of days, thanks to the cost-cutting, waste-reducing, time-saving benefits of robotics in construction.
Because of this, we can pass the savings down to people who need it most — vulnerable communities without access to safe, comfortable, and affordable housing. Contact a representative now to learn more about how Quantum Assembly utilizes robotics for construction for the betterment of people and the planet.