Robots in manufacturing are a given. Robots in agriculture are a hope for the future. Robots in retail and food service are becoming a reality.
Now, robots are moving into another area that has been experiencing labor shortages: construction. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 79 percent of construction companies want to hire more people this year, but the number of available workers is expected to grow by only .5%.
Why is the construction industry experiencing shortages? Some possibilities:
- High schools push kids to attend college instead of learning trades.
- A history of families handing down tradesman’s skills is ending.
- Wages for construction workers have not kept pace over time.
Industry insiders say it’s not exactly a labor shortage. Rather, there’s a shortage of workers at the price employers are willing to pay. Limited on the job training has also been an issue. Sound familiar?
It should. The same issues have led to labor shortages in manufacturing.
So there’s a choice for employers: invest more in the human workforce, or invest in automation. Robots don’t demand higher wages, agitate for time off, or complain about work conditions.
Research firm Tractica is expecting to see 7,000 robots on construction sites by 2025.
What will these robots do?
Demolition is probably the top choice. But robots are also good at bricklaying, a classic repetitive task that a machine can do faster and more consistently than a human being. A 3-D printing robot on a site can produce needed items fast on the spot. And exoskeletons can increase safety significantly.
Unlike agriculture, food prep, or retail, construction involves a lot of tasks conducted with uniform materials and repetitive tasks. That’s where a robot really feels at home.
Automation is the solution for construction labor shortages, almost certainly.
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