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Construction sites to be ‘almost human-free’ by 2020 claims Balfour

1-minute read

Josh Hall

14 July 2017

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Automated builders will be manning construction sites across the UK in less than five years.

This is according to Balfour Beatty, which claims that bricklayers, excavator operators, and more will be replaced by machines as early as 2020.

The construction giant says the only humans left will be the small number required to control the mainly automated machines.

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Automation gathers pace

Balfour are basing their predictions on trends seen in general manufacturing processes. In factories across the world, humans are quickly being replaced by automation, often at a significant cost to jobs.

While the dexterity of human hands is still the best tool for some manufacturing jobs, larger, simpler tasks are now routinely completed by robots. The trend is expected to gather pace even further as 3D printing techniques reach maturity and scale.

And this is not the first time we've heard about robots replacing tradesmen. Last year Fastbrick Robotics unveiled their Hadrian X robot builder, which is able to lay 1,000 bricks an hour.

More skilled jobs?

But Balfour believe that there will still be a place for humans in the building process, even if that means they will be doing unfamiliar jobs.

The report says: “Increasing use of robots and automation will mean that the industry becomes more productive, creating new roles for skilled workers in cutting-edge areas, while reducing the need for those undertaking repetitive, manual tasks, such as bricklayers.”

Automation remains one of the hot-button topics in business and the economy. Many commentators believe that the rise of automation will have a dramatic impact on the nature of work, with some even suggesting that it could necessitate a major restructuring of society as an increasing proportion of the jobs base is automated away.

The trend has also increased interest in the Universal Basic Income principle, which is already being trialled in countries including Finland and Canada.

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