The construction industry has always been slow to use technology, as Nick knows well from trying to market his mini-computer-based Construction Accounting System in the 1970s. While acceptance may still be slow, uses of technology in the industry are proliferating:
- 3D technology is being used to build entire structures – homes. and even multi-story buildings. (Charities are using the technology to build homes and schools in impoverished areas,)
- 4D technology is able to create electrical circuits.
- Robots have been used for spot and arc welding since the 1960s, but now robots are able to lay bricks faster than a bricklayer journeyman, paint high walls, and saw wood to specifications.
- Robots will be used to store and transfer material on job sites.
- Drones are being used to improve safety by flying around job sites, identifying problems.
- Robots are acting as security guards.
- Swarms of drones are being used to transfer material in high-rise construction. (So, without buckets on pulleys, the classic request for sick leave will make no sense for future generations.)
The impact on jobs will be substantial. An issue for the industry and its unions is that, with lower-level jobs (such as laborers) being eliminated, and much of the support work for any journeyman automated, the whole apprenticeship process will need to be re-thought.
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REVIEW THESE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES - AND READ THOSE THAT INTEREST YOU
People will be living in 3D-printed homes in 2019 (Construction/Homebuilding - 2018-12 - Architectural Digest)
The most amazing 3D-printing projects of 2018 (Construction - 2018-12 - MIT Technology Review)
The first 3D-printed steel bridge has been completed (Construction - 2018-10 - MIT Technology Review)
This Japanese robot contractor can install drywall (Construction - 2018-10 - The Verge)
US Marine Corps Systems Command used a 3D printer to construct a concrete barracks measuring 500 sq ft in 40 hours (Construction/Buildings - 2018-09 - New Atlas)
Netherlands building world's first habitable 3D printed houses and cycle bridges (Construction/Home Building - 2018-06 - The Guardian)
AI-powered drones increase efficiency, reduce cost, spotting problems humans might miss (Construction - 2018-06 - TechRepublic)
Japanese companies are using robots to help build skyscrapers (Robotics/High-rises - 2018-04 - MIT Technology Review)
Japanese companies are using robots in the construction of skyscrapers to weld beams, move supplies, and install ceiling panels. This only represents about 1% of the total labour.