Robot bricklayers to ease skills shortage, suggests new research

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Robot bricklayers

Robot bricklayers could be deployed in Brexit Britain as construction companies turn to machines to make up for the loss of skilled labour from mainland Europe

According to a new report, the UK’s construction sector is more receptive than any other in the world to the use of autonomous machines and drones on building sites.

Some 47% of British firms predict that building site robots will bring change to the industry. That compares with just 34% globally.

Ian Wimpenny, director of the Altus Group real estate company, which carried out the research, said: “With EU net migration having fallen to its lowest level since 2012, and record employment, contractors are already struggling to fill vacancies and close skills gaps, so it’s unsurprising that UK developers are more open to disruptive technologies to keep Britain building post Brexit.”

Robots are already prevalent in car manufacturing, and trials of robot bricklayers on building sites are already underway.

Manufacturers claim robots can lay 3,000 bricks a day, compared with the typical 300-600 bricks for a human worker, said Wimpenny. Drones, meanwhile, are used for surveying, inspections and progress monitoring.

Companies such as New York-based Construction Robotics and Australia’s Fastbrick are among the market leaders in new construction technology.

JCB, Volvo and Caterpillar are also developing autonomous construction vehicles.

The Altus research also revealed that 65% of developers globally are facing challenges with labour shortages, which are exacerbated by government policy and growing demand.

Altus Group’s Real Estate Development Trends Report surveyed over 400 major property developers, each with more than £200m under development.

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