Automation and robotics is the hot new trend in many different industries. Businesses are looking for ways of automating repetitive, time-consuming, and dangerous tasks to enhance efficiency and improve the safety of workers. The construction industry is no different. In fact, automation is an excellent solution for builders to increase operational efficiency and to cut down on costs.
The scope of automation in the construction industry is quite broad, extending from initial planning stages all the way to operating and maintaining the final structure. Here are five examples of automation being used in the construction industry.
1. Autonomous Machines on the Construction Site
Perhaps the most common example of automation in construction is the use of autonomous machines. These are essentially self-driving machines that can be used to transport materials across the work site and to haul heavy items without posing a risk to workers.
For example, machines can be fitted with robotic technology solutions and sensors that enable forklifts, diggers, trucks, and other similar equipment to operate without a driver in the cabin. By creating relevant paths, providing GPS capabilities, and programming movement of the machine itself, construction site workers can remotely operate machinery and enjoy more efficient processes.
2. Drones to Survey Working Areas and Employees
Drones are another useful example of construction automation, allowing for the automated monitoring of worksites without the need for active supervision. Drones can be programmed to automatically scan the working area for any potential hazards, after which signals can be sent back to a centralised control system.
Using drones allows construction companies to conduct pre-project inspections and other important site monitoring activities.
3. Robotics in Concrete Works
Automation in construction has also found its way to concrete mixing. Control systems and robotics are being used to mix concrete, lay the cement, polish floors, and remove surface water. This also allows companies to prepare precast and ready-mixed concrete products that take a much shorter time to install. Automation reduces material consumption and eliminates the human error that would otherwise go into concrete works.
Another area of concrete work that is enjoying the benefits of automation is concrete floor polishing. Programmable machines are being used to polish soft concrete in both commercial and residential structures. These machines can be programmed to pour and level concrete in the right portions while avoiding obstacles near the work zone.
Demolition robots are also being used to bring down walls and to dismantle concrete slabs. This often results in lower operational costs and a safer working environment for employees.
4. IoT Sensors to Collect and Process Data
Sensors are the key devices that make automation possible. These devices can take real-time readings of location, temperature, pressure and other conditions. Sensors allow construction companies to automate many different machines and robots according to their preferences.
Sensors can also transmit signals to machines to trigger a specific action. For example, automation is typically achieved in welding and fabrication machines through the use of sensors. These sensors collect important environmental data that can be used to trigger a relevant action in the welding machine.
5. Virtual Reality During Project Planning and Training
Virtual reality systems are another example of automation in construction. These systems allow for construction companies to plan for a project even before they lay down a single brick.
Virtual reality simulates a realistic environment that allows builders to interact with a particular structure using a series of scanned images. For example, builders can virtually crawl through pipes in the building to determine if they have enough room for repair and maintenance. Virtual reality is an important form of automation because it uses programmed 3D scans that are highly accurate and not prone to human error.