5th August Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

We might have gotten off to a slow start compared to other industries in the digital revolution, but it’s fair to say we’ve definitely caught up. Technology and modern tools have helped speed up and improve the construction process, and although the need for manual labour has always remained constant, these modern advances could mean that’s all about to change.

The building site of the future is going to look very different to what we are all used to seeing today. Instead of hundreds of men in hard hats and work boots, there are going to be drones, robotic bulldozers and 3D printers rolling out new structures.

There are now apps, programmes and even robots that can do everything from carry out minimal tasks to building houses with very little human interaction. Automated robots are being used to construct beams, lay bricks, drill, dig, paint and perform almost any task required to build structures.

Technology is about to get cranked up a gear as the Construction Industry Training Board has been given the go ahead to train five members of staff to fly drones to the Civil Aviation Authority standard.

Spending the day flying a remote controlled aircraft might sound like a hobby, or something to do on your day off, but it could soon be just another ‘day in the office’.

Could we soon see the end of working life as we know it? Is the robotic revolution coming, and does it have the potential to significantly change the industry? Here’s hoping, because the robotic revolution is set to improve project times and reduce the risk of health and safety – which is what we’ve all wanted for a long time!

The roofers will be trained to use drones to carry out surveys and find faults, rather than getting up on the roof themselves to carry out these tasks, massively reducing the risks of working at a height.

Research has shown that approximately 10 per cent of manufacturing tasks are currently carried out by machines, with the number predicted to rise to 25 per cent by 2025 if pilot schemes like this are rolled across the industry.

Machines get smarter and more capable each year, which scares a lot of people, but with the industry tackling huge projects and housing shortages over the next few years, we’re going to need all the help we can get.

Contractors will need to consider how technology can make a difference to project budgets and timescales, and with drones having the potential to make construction faster, more cost-effective and most importantly, safer, they could be the answer to all of our problems.