Robotic automation refers to the interdisciplinary branch of engineering dealing with the concept, design, construction, and operations of machines known as robots. It involves the merger of two emerging cutting-edge technologies called machine learning and artificial intelligence. These machines normally carry out both hazardous autonomous and semi-autonomous tasks that humans cannot perform safely. The robots have a series of intricate built-in sensors, mechanical devices which control movement, and ultramodern re-programmable data processing chips. This enables them to precisely replicate all forms of human action.
Reddy Kancharla is a renowned civil engineer and geotechnical consultant from Briarcliff Manor in New York. He has over 25 years of valuable industry-based experience in civil construction, construction quality control, and geotechnical consultation. He specializes in assessing structural failures, offering remedial designs, sorting out construction discrepancies, scheduling construction projects, and implementing ISO quality standards. He is even responsible for successfully building some of New York’s famous landmarks. These are the Jets Stadium, the new terminals of JFK Airport, the USTA National Tennis Center, and Yankee Stadium.
In the opinion of Reddy Kancharla, the level of automation in the civil construction sector is comparatively lower than in other sectors of the economy. This is because most of the tasks that construction workers perform fall under repetitive low-skill manual labor. These include carpentry, plumbing, bricklaying, metalwork, scaffolding, plastering, landscaping, glass-fitting, air-conditioner handling, and installing roof tiles. Moreover, the construction sites happen to be challenging environments to introduce emerging cutting-edge technologies to boost productivity. However, this is not the case with the latest ultramodern robotic automation applications. With hardly any re-programming, the new generation of construction robots can adapt to real-time variability in most building sites.
He points out that construction robots under human supervision are revolutionizing the civil construction sector in the following ways:
- Automating repetitive tasks like bricklaying, welding, and concrete-laying to boost productivity,
- Undertaking tasks that are hazardous for ordinary laborers to perform like demolition,
- Inspecting areas of the construction sites which hazardous for humans to venture,
- Providing construction site security from the air via aerial drones to prevent all kinds of theft,
- Digging trenches or loading unusable material waste into self-driving trucks, and
- Pushing heavy objects away from or leveling the topsoil without the need for a human operator.
Benefits of robotic automation in the construction sector
The advantages of using construction robots in all kinds of construction sites for civil engineers are as follows:
- Substitutes human operators in physically hazardous tasks without compromising on productivity,
- Performs certain tasks which are beyond the capabilities of human beings,
- Minimizes operating costs as the robots can operate at high levels of precision for long hours, and
- Reduces the number of serious workplace accidents in construction sites.
Reddy Kancharla believes that robotic automation will steadily play a greater role in the civil construction sector. This will lead to an increase in productivity in the construction sites and a reduction in operating costs. However, civil engineers need to ensure the operators handling the construction robots have relevant technical skills, knowledge, and experience to use them.