4 Reasons Mobile Construction Robots Are a Contractor’s Best Friend

Construction contractors face various challenges. Fortunately, today’s mobile robots can help with many of them. The growing market offers many types of mobile robots — contractors will get the best results when they’re aware of the problems these advanced machines can solve.

 

1. Reduce Labor Shortage Impacts

Numerous firms deal with prolonged labor shortages, especially because it takes time to train new workers once more experienced ones retire or leave for other reasons. Data from Associated Builders and Contractors indicates people must hire an additional 501,000 people for construction tasks — in addition to what the industry would normally need in 2024 to meet labor requirements.

Despite the increased job opportunities in the industry, the current growth is not substantial enough to meet current and anticipated demands. That problem means some construction projects may start late or not finish on time.

Many manufacturing plants feature assembly lines where people work beside cobots, allowing the machines to help them do more than they could on their own. One construction company’s process involves using robotic arms to form wood planks into panels used for housing. This approach completes a process in hours that formerly took weeks or days.

For now, the robots work in specialized facilities and workers transfer the completed panels to construction sites. However, leaders hope future versions of the bots will be sufficiently portable so they’ll work directly on properties containing homes under construction.

Work is also underway to make various types of mobile robots as easy as possible to bring to construction sites. One example of what’s possible comes from a company with a machine that looks like a standard truck but transforms into a bricklaying robot with a 105-foot boom arm. It can lay up to 300 large masonry blocks per hour.

 

2. Enable Better Accuracy and Consistency

Contractors also appreciate mobile construction robots because they help them avoid costly errors. Even the most conscientious people can get fatigued or distracted and then make mistakes. As many manufacturers expand the types of mobile robots they offer, these makers often build bots to decrease those error rates.

One example is a 23-pound mobile robot controllable with an iPad. This machine makes traditional blueprints more usable by drawing the associated information in the real world with chalk.

The robot has advanced software and hardware, such as integrated sensors. Together, these components provide excellent accuracy, while the highly portable design makes it easy to bring the machine to almost any construction site.

Some mobile robots are also ideal for tasks in places humans can’t easily access. For example, walking excavators exist that handle slopes of up to 60 degrees and challenging terrains. Those characteristics allow contractors to use them in places other construction equipment can’t reach. Site managers get higher accuracy and consistency rates without putting people at unnecessary risk or damaging expensive machines not equipped for the task.

 

3. Reduce Waste

Mobile robots can boost productivity and assist with ordinarily dangerous or dull tasks for humans. Many models are so compact and lightweight that contractors can take them to sites in the back of a pickup truck. Some even attach to larger equipment, such as cherry pickers, making those construction staples more versatile than before.

One example is a modular painting robot that attaches to lifts or cherry pickers. Operators on the ground use remote controls to manipulate both the lift and the effectors handling the painting. The robot also works with any commercially available paint brands. Since the robot gets more precise results when painting surfaces, it uses about a quarter less paint than other solutions made for commercial use.

Waste reduction is a particularly attractive benefit for contractors associated with smaller operations or particularly cost-conscious ones. Getting only the supplies they need will keep expenses down overall, for the contracting company itself and the customers hiring them.

Another case comes from a business that developed a robot to install solar panels. The idea is that building types of mobile robots to meet the world’s clean energy needs will contribute to better installation efficiency overall. However, those involved with the machine believe it will reduce waste by increasing the precision of the panels’ handling and placement. If fewer panels break, contractors can meet their waste reduction goals and make solar panels seem more appealing to customers.

 

4. Align With Contractors’ Budgets

Mobile robots often easily fit into a contractor’s budget, too. Some companies offer them for rent, and some provide all-inclusive packages, allowing customers to pay flat rates for any maintenance or repairs the mobile robot might need.

One project associated with the University of Calgary puts an unusual spin on rented mobile robots for construction. The approach involves delivering a room-sized box to a construction site, with the container holding the robot. Contractors can rent the robots, which can currently do virtually any task humans handle.

The rented robots can handle many tasks not typically feasible for smaller crews. Those smaller construction companies stay more competitive and can bid for more lucrative work. Another unique aspect of the University of Calgary project is that the robot does its tasks while staying inside the box. The self-contained approach makes it easier for a contractor to budget — they don’t have to install any special equipment or infrastructure to take advantage of the robot’s benefits.

Contractors interested in using the various types of mobile robots should start by doing some simple but valuable calculations. How much time and money could a company save by letting robotic equipment handle some repetitive tasks? Getting the approximate figures should make people feel more open to learning about the possibilities and making them part of the business budget.

 

Get to Know the Types of Mobile Robots

While some contractors have been slow to join the mobile robot revolution, these benefits make the machines worth considering. Once people in the construction industry know more about the mobile robots companies offer, it’ll be easier to assess which options best fit their current and future business needs.

 

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