Construction Automation

Published on
March 8, 2024
March 7, 2024

Current Limitations

More than 50% of the people in the world live in urban areas as of 2024. By 2050, this number will grow to approximately 68%. With the global population rapidly urbanizing, especially in emerging economies, the growth in the construction sector will continue accelerating.

There have been several limiting factors, however, to meet the growing demand for resource-efficient and cost-effective construction. These include rising labor costs and scarcity, rising material costs, access to labor, affordability, and an unstable supply chain. To add to the pile of problems are ESG commitments - the construction industry maintains its position are one of the producers of CO2.

How will the construction sector cope with these demands? The solution may well be automation.

Artificial Intelligence for Construction

We know that building at speed and scale can lead to the overlooking of worker safety standards.

The fact that in 2019, the Australian construction industry accounted for 20% of all work-related fatalities despite only employing 9% of the workforce, or the fact that in 2015, the construction industry in India accounted for 24.2% of all worker fatalities demonstrates that the construction sector is a dangerous sector to work in and requires the most robust safety systems and reforms.

This is where Artificial Intelligence can help. AI and Machine Learning technologies have the potential to revolutionize how we ensure safety and efficiency. They enable continuous monitoring of construction sites, providing real-time data and immediate alerts for safety and security. These technologies also enhance video analytics, identifying workers not following safety protocols and offering instant coaching.

AI and ML can automate audits, replacing manual checklists with smart tags for streamlined inspections. This will result in on-demand report generation for safety and security assessments. Additionally, these technologies optimize construction processes based on real-time data, making construction sites more adaptable and flexible. From predicting theft to ensuring compliance with regulations.

Applications of Robotics: 3D Printing and Automated Modular Construction

AI and robotics often go hand in hand. Within robotics, a domain traditionally associated with manufacturing, we are witnessing a burgeoning application in real estate, particularly in construction and building management operations. Dexterous robotics automates construction processes, accelerates construction times, enhances safety, and incorporates advanced materials with low carbon footprints.

Robotics is an integral part of 3D printing in construction.

3D printing is being used by architects to create highly detailed prototypes of modules in minutes - notably for iconic projects like the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, at levels that cannot be easily or efficiently achieved by humans.

Image credit: Expiatory Temple of the Basílica de la Sagrada Família

3D concrete printing can reduce construction times from months or years to a matter of a few days or weeks, reducing labor costs by up to 45% and time taken by 20x.

In building management operations, robotics is making significant inroads, especially in security and maintenance inspections. These robots, patrolling 24/7, contribute to the digitization of operations through image and data capture.

Examples of Implementation

Building on the limitations of traditional construction methods is key to efficiently implementing automation for construction.

Great examples of the real-world implementation of these technologies are plenty. MENA's 3D printing capacity is not far behind, with the world's largest on-site 3D-printed building having been constructed already in Riyadh last year.

Image credit: 14Trees

Affordable housing development projects are perfectly poised to benefit from this technology - especially if aided by new-age, cost-effective construction technology.

Automation also has applications in infrastructure development.

Construction

The real estate industry is witnessing the seamless integration of technologies developed in other industries. This tech transfer, exemplified in applications like 3D printing in construction, is proof of the flexible and cooperative nature of real estate innovation. Anticipate more tech transfer, especially in prefabricated and modular construction, where manufacturing robotics will serve as a crucial reference.

Industry 5.0 is here, we are in the future, and AI and robotics have brought us here. Do not overlook the potential of AI because it is here to stay, disrupt, and change our lives.

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