Exploiting robotics in the construction process: Easier said than done
Robotics have the potential to facilitate and improve the construction process for the industry. However, innovators keep on struggling to implement them without success, leaving the industry lagging in automation. Why is this still so hard to achieve?
The construction sector, despite being the largest industry, faces decreased productivity, labor shortages, and high safety risks. Adopting robotics in construction is a potential solution to combat these issues. However, implementation in construction is lagging compared to similar industries like manufacturing, due to the unique and complex characteristics of construction industry. Several reasons contribute to this situation. The aim of this study was to investigate exploitation of robotics in the construction process and what requirements and obstacles exist.
The research method, involving an interpretivist approach, will consist of qualitative, semi-structured interviews with a thematic analysis to gain a rich perspective from industry experts on the matter.
The results showed that exploiting robotics have clear advantages for multiple reasons, where the purpose and incentive for robotics in construction is to improve three major values in construction projects; Improve efficiency and quality, reduce costs, and replace hazardous work. Moreover, implementation comes with both internal challenges, being technical and organizational, and external challenges, which are industrial and cultural. However, the results dominantly indicate potential adjustments and approaches to achieve exploitation of robotics.
The analysis of the result shows that the focus on mitigating the challenges for exploitation should shift towards the external, mostly creating incentives for implementation in the industry and cultivating an innovation mindset. Technical and organizational challenges are usually existing in any innovation attempt. These can be overcome by the knowledge gain of exploiting robotics in real projects.