Remember a time before the iPhone created the “app economy?” Remember when you used to have to leave your cozy home on a Friday night and drive 3 miles to the nearest Block Buster to rent the latest cinematic craze? Before Amazon, when you had to physically go to the department store or order from a catalog to purchase a new pair of boots? Just like these technologies have disrupted our world as we knew it, our industry will also be disrupted by automation.
I’m not talking about a Jetson-like robot named Rosie who will literally lay bricks, drill holes, and pour concrete – but more like digital design tools that help you to imagine how to build the structure in a different way. Humans still have to do the grit work of laying asphalt and installing barricades, but their jobs are easier because their decision-making process is less complex.
Three reasons why automation is on the way to shaking up the way we build-
1. Digitally enabled workflows: construction is driven by data – new generative design, algorithmic simulation, geospatial analysis and VR/AR are all becoming increasingly important. Not only in accelerating the design process, but in increasing the “search area” for new ideas.
2. Automated assembly: digital tools enable design for assembly, which makes workflows much easier, faster, and safer. Design for assembly means that workers can be effective after relatively short periods of training. This offers employment to new groups and a solution to the looming skills crisis.
3. Increasing support from government: a series of announcements and initiatives show increasing support for automation.
Disruption from automation will be almost inevitable; how will we as an industry choose to respond?
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