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Nathan King, a senior industry engagement manager at Autodesk Technology Centers, believes that automation technologies can provide a valid solution to the challenges faced in the manufacturing sectors – mainly, the need to construct new buildings to keep up with the world’s growing population. King expressed his views in a recent blog post in Scientific American.
The United Nations stated that 400,000 new people enter the middle class every day. To accommodate this growing population, it is estimated that the construction industry will need to build an average of 13,000 buildings every day through 2050.
According to King, to keep up with this ever-growing demand for buildings, and to better manage the challenge of increasingly scarce resources and fluctuations in labor availability, the construction industry needs to rethink the way it builds—and new types of automation, including robotics, have an important role to play.
In recent years, a shortage of skilled labor across high-demand construction markets, the increasing scarcity of resources, a need for enhanced performance, and a confluence of requisite technologies have led to a renewed interest in automation technologies for construction.
Framing is a prime example. Inside any high-rise building, you might have hundreds of thousands of square feet of walls that have interior framing made of cold-formed steel framing (CFS). Typically, this steel is delivered to the construction site and manually cut to length onsite by workers using saws—a lengthy, laborious, and often wasteful process.
King noted that there are now commercially available solutions that can help automate the production of CFS framing, either on-site or off-site. All the parts are precut, predrilled, punched for systems like plumbing and electrical, and labeled—all of which enables faster assembly and installation. In addition to making workers’ lives easier and speeding up production, this technique has been shown to significantly reduce the waste associated with interior framing.
BuildSteel has many case studies that provide examples that show how automation saved both time and money on CFS framed projects. One example is the Metreau Apartments (Green Bay, Wisconsin), a luxury 107-unit complex. In this case study, CFS framing saved the developer several weeks of time over conventional construction.