hh2 Powertools reported on the rapid growth in investment into construction automation, but an editorial by Chris Stanley, of the Concrete Block Association, says that it’s an enticing solution that overlooks the real problems.
Modern construction automation, specifically modular building, is, he says, a fad, “conveniently giving the impression that it is innovative.”
Offsite construction, Stanley says, is not forward thinking, and while it might be a short term fix, things will “unravel” in the long term. The risk, he says, is a problem that was seen in the 1950s and 60s: buildings that will show their wear and tear early and not age well.
While he does recognize that there are problems that need to be addressed, such as the lack of a skilled labor force, he believes that the way to overcome that is through reemphasizing on training and education programs that can sustain the old way of construction, not investing in technologies that change the face of the industry.
On the other side of the argument, Ian King, CEO of Zeroignition, says that there isn’t time or the will to reeducate the workforce, and that we’re faced with mounting populations of poor and homeless who need cheap, affordable housing—and that modular housing is exactly what is called for.
Also, many technologies (like hh2’s applications) will digitize the business side of construction, and make it easier for record keeping, payroll, and accounting. This will streamline businesses even further, enabling them to make a margin even on low-cost homes.
“But innovation isn’t just digital,” he says. “A host of new construction materials and building systems are being developed. These enable homes to be built faster and to higher standards than they currently are, and are critical to solving the housing crisis.”
What do you think? Is increasing automation better for the industry? Should we work harder to maintain the old ways of doing things?
To read the full article, click here.