The pace at which innovative technology is changing the whole spectrum of construction industry is mind-boggling. Hitherto confined to manufacturing industry, robotics and automation is making aggressive inroads into the construction sector. These developments point towards a fundamental shift from the conventional methods of construction towards contemporary methods using principles of mass production,robotization and large scale automation. Jose Thomas, Design Engineer at Siemens, UK gives an overall picture of the various robotic applications in construction industry.
Technological evolution is currently advancing at a great pace with an effort to automate activities that could potentially make humans more productive. It has always been in the pinnacle of human dreams to develop robots capable of making decisions by intuitively learning from their changing surroundings.
From driverless cars to thought controlled robotic prosthetics, robots are pacing ahead in being cognitive assistants to humans, even to the extent of replacing humans at various avenues. In an industry like the construction industry where there is high level of human involvement for planning,
organizing and manufacturing, the application of robotics for automation is inevitable. Construction as an industry serves as a major economic driver and contributes to 6 – 9% of the GDP of most developed and developing countries.
In India, this industry contributes around 9% to the national GDP and accounted for 40% of the development investment during the past 50 years.
The German economy spends about 10% of its annual GDP on construction projects and in the U.S this contribution rises to 12% with thousands of
small and medium scale enterprises involved in the business.
According to AECOM, a global provider of technical and management support, construction spending in Asia accounted for 44% of the total global construction spending in 2013, with China being the largest market followed by Japan, India, Indonesia and Korea. Although being one of the largest economic sectors worldwide, construction industry has not been a prime area of research for studying robotic application and automation until recently.
This was primarily due to the limitations owing to its dynamic and random environment, low levels of standardization and high levels of human intervention required. Typically, application of robotic automation has been in the manufacturing industry where robots are stationary and the product moves along the assembly line, which consequently makes it easier to automate, as each product is identical with respective tasks done over and over. On the contrary, the field of large scale construction has inherently been a feat of human multitasking; therefore, a fully automated
process would require intelligent control system, sophisticated sensors for feedback and advanced mobility systems. The effective use of robotics and
automation is one of the greatest opportunities, as well as one of the greatest challenges, facing the construction industry.
(Read the full part of this article from the August Issue of Safety Messenger Magazine)