Will Robots Affect The Use Of Plant Machinery?

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The use of robots on construction sites has seen an increase. We might not be at the stage of robots completely replacing people just yet, but we are seeing a rise in robotics being used to assist with jobs around the site. 

With the introduction of Spot the robot dog, a bricklaying robot, and heavy machinery that can operate itself, how will robots on construction sites affect the use of plant machinery?

SPOT THE ROBOT DOG

Spot is a robot resembling a dog that is being used to capture and monitor construction progress. In 2020, Boston Dynamics tasked Spot with roaming around the Battersea project. Using laser scanning technology, Spot was able to check that the construction work being done matched up with the architectural plans. Helping to ensure construction runs smoothly. Spot is even able to make his own way up stairs and can avoid obstacles, meaning he can pretty much be left alone to do his thing.

More recently, at the start of 2023 Liverpool John Moores University invested in their own Spot. Proving that the robot dog might not just be a novelty, but can be useful for the future of construction. We don’t see Spot replacing the need for plant machinery, but he definitely has potential to assist with its use.

BRICKLAYING ROBOTS

Back in 2016, the Hadrian X bricklaying robot demonstrated how it can lay 1000 bricks in just an hour. That’s around 500 more than human bricklayers can typically lay in a day! This robot uses a 30 metre boom which places specially designed blocks where required. 

Since then, another form of bricklaying robot has been used to build a house in the UK. The machine used for this house works slightly differently than the Hadrian X. This one runs on tracks that move along and place the bricks and mortar exactly where the software has instructed. Not too dissimilar to a 3D printer.

SELF OPERATING PLANT MACHINERY

You’ve probably heard about driverless cars, but did you know they’re also looking to automate plant machinery? 

Automation is something that is seen as overdue within the construction industry. Construction is often seen as being slow and expensive. So it’s hoped that automation will help to boost productivity and cost-efficiency. It’s also hoped to help with on-site safety as automated plant machinery would help to remove people from the most hazardous parts of the job.

Rather than creating a whole new machine that is fully automated, one idea is to create a control system that can be added to an existing piece of plant machinery, such as excavators and skid steer loaders. The control system will then drive the machine, following signals from a human operated machine which would be leading in front. This would help with moving multiple machines across sites with less man-power, as well as completing repetitive tasks.

THE FUTURE OF CONSTRUCTION SITES

Whilst there is a definite rise in the use of robots and technology on construction sites, we think it will be quite some time before anyone needs to worry about being replaced on site. Largely down to the cost of implementing this equipment at present. Once it’s more readily available, it’s likely many more construction companies will look to use it.

There’s also some work that needs to be done in terms of safety before we see fully automated machinery running sites. Due to the ever changing landscapes of construction sites as a project progresses. Automated machinery will need to be able to keep up and easily navigate new terrain as it changes. Otherwise, there’s the risk of an increase in accidents on site rather than the reduction that’s hoped for. 

To summarise, we think plant machinery is safe from being wiped out by robots. Instead, robotics and automation technology can be used alongside current methods to help create more efficient construction sites.

LOOKING FOR USED PLANT MACHINERY?

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We may not have robot dogs or driverless machines, but at IPS we do have a great selection of used plant machinery available for sale. To view our current stocklist, click here.

When you buy used machinery from International Plant Sales, you will benefit from:

If you would like more information or have any questions about our plant machinery, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

All information correct as of 16/02/23

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