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ABB Robotics and Porsche Consulting are collaborating to drive automation in the construction industry with a pilot project to develop innovative new practices in modern housing manufacturing. The companies aim to help meet the need for more affordable and sustainable buildings and reduce the environmental impact of construction with the collaboration.
Labor shortages are persistent in the construction industry, and they contribute to a shortage of housing in many countries. In the US, labor shortages are contributing to a housing shortfall of nearly 4 million homes, and in Germany, 35 cities are forecast to have house supply shortages by 2030.
Along with struggling to meet the demand for new homes, the construction sector also needs to improve the environmental performance and efficiency of buildings and adopt more sustainable construction methods. One issue, in particular, is the transportation of raw materials to building sites. Transporting these materials can be costly, and can result in the team needing to remove unwanted materials and waste at the end of a project. These unwanted materials make up 25% of materials transported to a building site.
“The construction industry is facing numerous challenges. Highly automated factories for buildings can deliver higher quality and more affordable housing. In combining ABB’s leading robotic solutions and Porsche Consulting’s knowledge in planning and running state-of-the-art factories, we want to help transform this important industry” Eberhard Weiblen, Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche Consulting, said.
“We think there is a clear opportunity to transform this sector and the way homes are built by automating the process of manufacturing modular components,” Marc Segura, President of the ABB Robotics Division, said. “Greater, more intelligent automation is the answer to widespread labor shortages and this collaboration will boost productivity, allow greater customization and enable more sustainable and efficient construction practices.”
ABB and Porsche believe that modular construction will yield efficiencies through the reduction of material waste and the number of days lost to adverse weather conditions. Factories also provide a safer and more hospitable working environment, as construction workers account for around 30% of workplace injuries and are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident versus other sectors.
Currently, the construction industry trails behind other industries when it comes to adopting automation and robotics. ABB commissioned a global survey of 1,900 large and small construction businesses in Europe, the US, and China. In the survey, only 55% of construction companies say they use robots, compared with 84% in automotive and 79% in manufacturing. The survey also showed that 81% of construction businesses plan to introduce or increase the use of robotics and automation in the next decade.