Results from the Construction Industry Innovation & Productivity Report 2016, were recently published in Inside Construction magazine. While 82% of respondents said it is important to work in a progressive and innovative organization, only 37% believe the construction industry is an early adopter of new tech-focused solutions. The challenge is not in convincing people about the value of technology. In fact, industry leaders indicated the top three benefits of new technologies are increased productivity (90%), enhanced competitiveness (85%), and less time wasted (77%). The challenge is primarily attitude and especially financial investment in technologies. Lincoln Easton, former construction CFO and founder of Progressclaim.com who sponsored the survey, says the construction industry needs to truly embrace and deploy new technologies. He added that while hearts and minds are sold on innovation in the construction industry, those feelings haven’t translated to action and change. “Leaders in the construction industry need to radically re-think attitudes and breakdown the hurdles to change,” said Easton.
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General Motors was the first factory to use a robot in 1961. The “Unimate” was a one-armed automaton used for tasks such as welding. In those days robots working conditions were strictly controlled, partly to protect humans and partly to stop the humans from confusing the robots. That has changed immensely when you consider the work of cobots Baxter and Sawyer, created by Rethink Robotics. The world’s population of robots is growing rapidly, about 13% each year. Instead of “offshoring” manufacturing to cheaper labor markets, robots are part of the “re-shoring” trend bringing manufacturing back home. Progress in artificial intelligence (AI) is accelerating the use of robots. The invention of AI is generally dated back to the summer of 1956 and a workshop at Dartmouth College. Scientists wanted then to create machines that “use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.” Fears of robots taking over in the workplace abound, but history shows technology has always created new jobs, different jobs, mostly better jobs. So what are we waiting for in the construction industry?
Watch video, Rethink Robotics “Baxter and Sawyer – co-bots”:
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NECA Technology – the Project for Applied and Disruptive Technology, explores the world of technology and keeps members informed of what’s happening today, and of what will be launched in the not too distant future. Dr. Joey Shorter has an extensive background in education and experience in translating the work of academics into understandable, practical ideas.