With an aging US construction work force, and increased construction activity, construction employment is again on the rise. It is projected that by 2019, there will be a shortage of nearly 1.5 million workers.
Innovative technologies might help reduce some of the pressure. But the focus is also on reducing the physical requirements for construction specialists.
The man-lift (or aerial work platform) is an example of technology reducing physical labor (hoisting a ladder or building scaffolding) while improving construction efficiency.
Now, firms like Ekso Bionics are pushing the envelope on reducing the risk of injury and physical demands on construction professionals. The exoskeletons will not only reduce injury to existing workers, but also open up job opportunities for workers with existing physical limitations.
In a similar vein, taking a page from the automotive industry, firms are using robotics to reduce the physical demands on bricklayers. Meet SAM, the bricklaying robot.
(Click on the photo for a YouTube video)
SAM isn’t reducing the number of construction professionals, as the bricks and mortar require resupply. But this first step toward innovation is promising a safer and healthier job site for all involved.
The challenges of construction employment are opening the door for innovative technology solutions. It’s certain that the job-site of the future will look dramatically different.