When the topic of automated vehicles arises, you would be forgiven for thinking of our day to day cars with automatic features, perhaps automated truck convoys and at a push, low-speed autonomous delivery pods being trialled for delivery services in urban areas. The media attention is focused mainly on these areas but less commonly spoken about is the value of automation in construction plant.
Focusing on the construction industry, especially in light of recent investment in the development of transport infrastructure in the UK, there are obvious and immediate improvements to be made in safety, quality and productivity within the sector. Full or partial autonomy of construction plant, as well as operator assistance, gives rise to these improvements and ITEN member Martin Lamb discuses these points in his recent article ‘Automation isn’t just about cars’.
Looking closely at the effect that automation has had on industries such as manufacturing over the last two decades compared to the construction industry and taking into account various aspects of the sector, Martin suggests that although autonomy in construction plant and improved technologies in general will not be the ‘silver bullet’ in increasing productivity, it will offer part of the solution.
When talking about autonomy in any industry, the concern for jobs is always a hot topic. Martin explores the concept of machine assist technologies, where machines can be used to assist the workers to increase productivity and performance and the simple repetitive tasks that could initially be done autonomously.
Giving specific examples of current machines being used to automate such as Volvo’s semi-autonomous excavator which achieves perfect grading and The Robotic PreMarker which uses connected automated driving (CAD) software to draw where road markings need to be placed using global co-ordinates via GNSS, Martin’s original article explores the effect that automation could have on productivity in the construction industry and the impact it will have on jobs in the sector