New construction robots are helping the construction industry navigate its green transformation.

Demand for sustainable structures and building techniques is growing fast, and construction companies around the world are looking for new ways to meet this need.

With the right robotic solution, construction companies can reduce waste, accelerate construction and even enable new approaches to construction.

Using Construction Robots to Reduce Waste

Construction is often a wasteful process. In Australia alone, the construction and demolition sector generated 27 million tonnes of waste (or 44% of all waste) in 2018–2019. This was a 60% increase from 2006–2007. Statistics on construction waste from other developed countries look similar.

As demand for housing and commercial buildings increases, waste generated by the construction industry is likely to increase. Building practices that reduce waste will become essential if the industry wants to become more sustainable.

Robots can be an invaluable tool for construction companies wanting to reduce construction waste. Construction robots can complete important tasks with high levels of precision, accuracy and consistency. As a result, robots can make fewer mistakes that will require rework or revisions — reducing the time and resources required, on average, to build a new structure.

In the near future, construction companies may also be able to adopt robots that help recycle building materials that would otherwise go to landfills.

Researchers have already developed robots that use machine vision and artificial intelligence to acquire and sort construction waste on job sites. Another team has developed a similar system that would automate construction waste sorting at recycling centers.

These robots can identify and recapture building materials like screws and nails, allowing them to be more easily recycled or reclaimed. Advanced robots may be able to automate this process of material reclamation entirely, helping businesses avoid as much unnecessary waste as possible.

Construction companies can also use robots in combination with other emerging technologies, like IoT construction monitors, that have been found to reduce waste and rework, potentially making construction operations even more sustainable.

Improving Efficiency With Construction Robots

Efficiency gains are one of the most common reasons for adopting robots. Many automated systems can perform repetitive tasks both more consistently and faster than human workers.

Robots can also generally work for longer stretches than human workers and may return to normal levels of productivity faster after a break or delay in construction work.

By automating tedious and repetitious work, businesses can also shift human workers to jobs that are challenging to automate, allowing for more efficient use of limited labor resources.

More efficient construction means less time necessary to build a new structure — which, in turn, means less time that construction activity will impact the local environment.

Noise from construction machines, runoff from the construction site and pollution from construction materials can all create serious short- or long-term environmental consequences for the area around a construction site.

Reducing construction time can lower the impact that construction will have on the local environment — for example, by reducing the amount of time that the ground at the jobsite will be disturbed, minimising the risk of runoff.

The shorter a job, the less time a construction company will also spend running heavy machinery, meaning that efficiency boosts can reduce jobsite emissions at the same time.

Prefabrication and 3D Printing Robots

With the right robot, construction companies can also gain access to novel building techniques. New 3D-printing construction robots, for example, leverage additive manufacturing to print building materials, prefab building components or even entire structures.

By carefully layering building materials according to a 3D model of the component or structure to be built, these robots can print a massive variety of designs from scratch.

3D-printing construction robots are capable of using a variety of materials, including mortar, plaster and concrete, to accelerate or automate the construction process.

Right now, these robots require human support to function. A 3D-printing robot that uses mortar, for example, will likely need a team of workers to mix the mortar and feed it into the machine. In the near future, advances in robot technology may help to automate much of this work.

These 3D-printing robots are still mostly experimental, however, and it may be a few years before they become common in the construction industry. In the meantime, however, robots are increasingly common in prefabrication factories that provide prefabricated building materials and structures for construction companies.

In these factories, specialized robots work alongside human workers to create prefab building materials that can accelerate construction work and reduce waste.

Because construction experts anticipate prefabrication to have a major impact on the industry over the next few years, efficient and sustainable prefab manufacturing techniques will become essential. Adopting of robotics in the prefabrication industry could help to make construction as a whole much more sustainable.


Robots Can Help Power Construction’s Green Transformation

The construction industry is under major pressure to adopt more sustainable practices. Robots could be an essential tool in the industry’s eco-friendly pivot.

With the right technology, construction companies can reduce waste, recycle more, increase efficiency and use 3D printing to create new structures.

Combined with other efficiency-boosting technologies, like robotic process automation and IoT devices, robots could easily help to reduce the environmental impact that construction has on the environment.


By Emily Newton

Emily J. Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She has over 5 years of experience showing how technology is changing the construction and engineering sectors.