The COVID-19 epidemic has expedited technological development and the automation of many everyday jobs, from robots that deliver parcels to contactless cashiers. Many people are now worried that artificial intelligence (AI) could significantly increase automation and eliminate jobs in the ensuing decades. This isn’t the case. Buildingspecifier.com editor Joe Bradbury discusses:

Similar issues were raised as the internet expanded just a few decades ago. Despite scepticism, the technology led to the creation of millions of jobs worldwide.

It’s natural to feel a little uneasy when the robots and employment are brought up. After all, we frequently hear phrases like “a machine can do that, quicker and cheaper” or “one day when robots are doing our jobs.”

The fact, however, is much less frightful than these discussions and the sensationalism that surrounds the subject. In fact, artificial intelligence and automation are the next stage of digital growth for the construction industry.

Even though it may seem inevitable that some occupations will eventually be replaced by machines, there are more advantages to automation and AI than disadvantages, especially when you consider that these technologies are more likely to increase industrial productivity while also creating new jobs.

When thoroughly examined, automation in construction has far more positive effects on both the personnel in the sector and the people who ultimately benefit from construction projects.

Two of the strongest arguments for the sector adopting automation are listed below:

Safer working environment

Construction is most dangerous due to the physical demands of the work. The construction sector is one of the largest in the UK economy – employing 3.1 million people, or over 9% of the workforce.

Fatalities to construction workers in Great Britain have actually risen slightly over the last two years from 1.36 people per 100,000 in 2018/19 to 1.84 people per 100,000 in 2020/21. Over the whole of the last decade there has been a modest decrease in fatal injuries of just 2.44%.

Clearly, the job site poses hazards that other industries rarely match, which means construction stakeholders have a responsibility to take every available precaution to make the job safer.

Thank goodness advancements in automation and artificial intelligence provide significant potential to boost construction safety. AI and automation may be used to:

  • AI decreases intensive physical labour and the risk of errors and injuries caused by humans. Even though robots now outperform humans at many tasks, they are also learning quite quickly.
  • AI can replace high-risk jobs. This technology can not only replace mundane work but also hazardous ones. In mines, on underwater construction sites, and even in distant regions, machines are increasingly taking the place of human workers.
  • AI works with already-in-place safety equipment. Technology can be linked with already-in-place personal protective equipment (PPE), by alerting managers when staff members are present without PPE.

Additionally, machine learning is employed to recognise security issues more quickly. Some clever businesses are working on technology that can actually predict building accidents before they happen.

Reducing the labour shortage gap

While some complain that machines are snatching their jobs, there is in fact currently a significant labour shortage in the construction industry.

Robotics and automation, when used properly, can increase the effectiveness of the current workforce by filling in for vacant positions in certain occupations.

Robotics, for instance, can be used to carry out labour-intensive tasks like excavation and preparation work with less people. While the market catches up, these technologies can handle duties like driving heavy machinery and other vehicles, keeping the industry operational and preventing any negative effects on human stakeholders’ and those workers’ bottom lines from labour shortages.

AI can also help with labour planning, and automation in the building industry has significantly reduced the amount of necessary but repetitive physical labour. For instance, historically a project team member would be responsible for completing a process like making submission logs, which could take days or even weeks to generate, track, and manage. This can now be automated, freeing up the employees time so that it may be utilised more productively.

How to get ready for the future of constuction

So, with automation and AI at our disposal, how can construction firms get ready for a new way of working? It entails approaching everything with an open mind:

  • Be receptive to change. Companies with a strong history of digitization have a 50% higher chance of making money utilising AI. If your business isn’t there yet, try to start right away, even with baby steps.
  • Encourage staff growth and make wise hiring decisions. Consider training internal staff in the abilities required by impending automation. We must prepare our workforce for success in order for AI to succeed.
  • Choose employees who can keep up with the pace. Future building jobs will require a higher level of ability and more regular improvements.
  • Increase data collection efforts. The key component for artificial intelligence and automation to succeed in any business is data. It’s wise to be data-driven to improve AI’s future at your business, regardless of when you implement it—whether that’s in the next year or ten.

In summary

Artificial intelligence (AI) is regarded as one of the most revolutionary inventions in human history, and its transformative potential has already been seen by many. Unsurprisingly, some of the most advanced technologies we utilise on a daily basis are powered by AI-based breakthroughs.

Today, AI enables businesses, governments, and communities to create a high-performing ecosystem that will benefit everyone on the planet. Some of the most important issues facing society are being resolved as a result of its tremendous impact on human lives. Give it a chance!

 

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