25.07.2018 | By Arlinda Sipilä

The construction industry is going digital and things are moving fast. We dug a little deeper into a few key areas which are likely to have a great impact on the industry in the years to come.

This blog post continues our new weekly series discussing the 6 key trends in the construction industry, one topic at a time. You can find the previous topics here:

If you would prefer, you can also download the whole 6 Key trends in the construction industry article now in PDF format.

Key trends in the construction industry

The construction industry, often seen as a relatively conservative field, has over the last few years started to change rapidly. New technology has become available, and it is helping to make construction processes both simpler and easier to manage.

“You can see the parallels with the vehicle industry, which was able to streamline its production processes at an early stage. Eight to ten years ago, the construction industry started heading in the same direction, and now things are moving fast”, says Markus Waser, Head of Training in Construction Technology and Community Construction at Yrgo in Gothenburg.

Robots can keep working during construction site downtimes

In the near future, it will be more common to see robots out on building sites. At the moment, only a small number of all industrial robots make it to the construction sector, and most of those are used in prefab production. However, several companies are currently working on the development of mobile robots for the construction industry. Build-R, for example, is developing a plasterboard installation robot. The idea is for the robot to work overnight while the construction site is on downtime, and the company hopes it will be able to install a plasterboard in three minutes. The robot has a camera and sensors which measure angles and distance, and enable it to map out the wall. Build-R plans to test the robot on some of NCC’s buildings in spring, and it is expected to be ready for market launch in 2019.

Linköping-based company Cbot is currently developing a slab placement robot that can pick slabs from a stock and then lay them out using an arm. It uses cameras, lasers, lights and algorithms to ensure that the slabs are positioned correctly. There are also robots that make reinforcement cages on site, while right now in Switzerland, a robot that can install foundations for steel bars is currently being tested.

Jonathan Eriksson finds the development of robots extremely interesting. They can perform heavy lifting tasks and work in cold, dirty environments. As such, they contribute to a better working environment and increased productivity.

“There’s a lot of monotonous work involved in construction. Bolting plasterboards together every day for 20 years can cause repetitive strain injury in the shoulders and elbows. It’s better to let robots do the monotonous work and have the people programme the robots. Even if robots take over the same job, we’ll still always need people. Every aspect of society is heading towards automation”, Jonathan says.