Drones and Robots on Jobsites

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Robison Wells

As we’ve discussed at length on this blog, the labor shortage is requiring construction companies to look outside the box to solve their productivity problems, and they are increasingly turning to technology. The progress has been relatively slow compared of other automated fields, such as manufacturing, but progress is being made, and new tech on the horizon looks promising.

In addition to job titles like “carpenter” and “electrician” in the help wanted advertisements, we’re starting to see construction companies looking for “drone operators” and “virtual reality technicians.” This is because robots and drones are, it appears, the future of construction.

One example is the Tucson-based Sundt Construction, which has 15 drone teams that can watch a project from above and calculate exactly how much earth is being moved in, say, a land fill, or an excavation. This gives the client immediate and accurate progress reports.

Prior, this kind of work would be done by counting the number of trucks that left a job site, not entirely sure how full each and every truck might be.

“With the ability to fly these drones we can measure the exact volume of how much material has been moved,” Eric Cylwik said, senior virtual construction coordinator for Sundt. “Then we can compare that surface to the week prior to show the client the progress that’s been made.”

Further explaining the power of drones, Cylwik described the process of laying pipe on a job site, a process that one required lots of manpower. “Before, we took a paper copy of the plans out into the field and used a tape measure, which could take half a day. With the drone it takes about 30 minutes in the field and an hour of computer time, crunching the data.”

To read more about how drones and robots are changing the future of construction, check out Tucson.com.

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