Automaton in the construction sector
With the increase of new technologies such as drones and building information technology there are continual concerns with how the construction industry, or most notably its workers, will have to adapt its traditional operations with the rise of automation, along with encountering potential job losses through a steady rise of mechanised working, according to a new study.
PwC has found that UK construction jobs at high risk of automation lies at 24 percent (0.52 million), but the US and Germany will see an increase in automation in areas such as transportation and storage, with “the potential impact of job automation in other countries driven by the industry composition of the country (i.e. the employment shares across sectors) and the relative proportion of jobs at high risk of automation in each of those sectors.”
Roles set for automation within Germany’s construction sector is set to rise, with a high level of roles based around repetitive, manual focused work, in comparison to countries, such as the UK and Japan, where there is a steep increase in consulting and management roles which require orientated and collaborative thinking.
In addition, an increase new technologies will create new roles which will help shape and modify current operations which will reduce costs, provide increased data and analytics, sufficient time saving and ultimately, help the production of high quality builds. These cost efficiencies will then be able to become embedded within other areas of the construction and building sector, or alter existing roles within company structures, instead of eradicating them completely.
An increase in training to adapt to new processes or embrace new ones against an ageing industry will therefore become another challenge, where 182,000 roles will be needed to be filled by 2018 as a result of increased labour shortages, according to the Guardian. The industry is currently employing 324,000 less workers than in 2008 against an increased demand for housing and ongoing development of new and existing infrastructures.
However, Al Cervero, Senior Vice President, Construction, Mining & Utility, at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has said, "More and more construction companies are beginning to realize and appreciate the value of robots at the jobsite.”
"Robots not only increase precision but also improve working conditions from an ease and safety perspective. Unmanned and autonomous machines will soon become the norm.” Such automation will also promote health and safety in the workplace, eliminating dangerous roles from the workforce and ensuring efficiency within all processes.
Read the March 2017 issue of Construction Global here
SafeAI attracts $21m funding as SmartMix AI tool launches
SafeAI is driving the transformation of the mining and construction industries through connected, autonomous sites. With chronic labour shortages, unsafe working conditions and frequent project delays, these industries are in a unique position to benefit from autonomy.
Unlike on-road applications of the technology, autonomous heavy equipment operates in controlled environments, which means companies can create smarter, safer, more productive project sites today that create meaningful, near-term impact.
“We are at a tipping point for autonomous heavy equipment,” said Bibhrajit Halder, founder and CEO at SafeAI. “We’ve proven that autonomy makes work sites significantly safer and more productive; now, we are on the cusp of mass adoption. Together with our valued partners, customers and investors, we’re poised to deploy autonomy in off-road industries like construction and mining, at scale, to rethink the way heavy industry operates.”
Heavy industry is a large, growing global market, ripe for disruption. The construction equipment market alone is valued at $140 billion, and expected to increase to $175 billion by 2025; construction-related spending accounts for a staggering 13% of global GDP, or $11.5 trillion.
But there remains significant room for growth; in construction alone, higher productivity could create an estimated $1.6 trillion in additional value. With just 25% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 in existence today, autonomy can bridge this productivity gap with greater efficiency and 24/7 operations. SafeAI is at the forefront of this transformation.
“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in the autonomy space today; but it’s clear the biggest opportunity for this technology is off-road,” said Mark Blackwell, General Partner at Builders VC. “With its industry-leading autonomous software, scalable retrofit approach and partner ecosystem, SafeAI is uniquely poised to capitalize on this opportunity. We’re proud to support the company in its next chapter of growth as demand for autonomous heavy equipment continues to skyrocket.”
New investors LTC, DG Ventures, MACA and Vimson Group, and existing investors Autotech Ventures, Brick and Mortar Ventures, Embark Ventures, Monta Vista Capital and Obayashi Corporation, also participated in the round. The funding comes on the heels of a year of rapid growth for SafeAI, including new partnerships with Obayashi, Goodyear and Macnica, and expansion into Australia’s booming mining market.
A pilot program with Obayashi Corporation last November saw a Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck autonomously complete a vital on-site function and carry out load-haul-dump cycles.
Giatec debuts SmartMix AI tool
Giatec has debuted what it claims is the world's first concrete AI tool for producers, SmartMix. The web-based AI tool allows producers to optimise concrete ingredient proportions, reduce cement usage, and predict the performance of their mixes while still meeting project specifications.
Giatec believes this tool will lower Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from concrete production by 400 million tons annually, the equivalent of taking 110 million cars off the road.
SmartMix builds on Giatec's first AI software program Roxi, which has collected millions of data points from the company's SmartRock wireless concrete sensors across 8,000 projects and 80 countries.
Giatec's head of research and development, Andrew Fahim, said the new technologies are going to pave the path forward for the industry to meet increasing infrastructure demands.