ABB Robotics and Porsche Unite to Drive Automation in Construction
ABB Robotics and Porsche Consulting have teamed up to bring robotics and automation to the construction industry, starting with developing new ways of manufacturing modular housing components.
ABB Robotics announced its recent collaboration with Porsche Consulting, which is concerned with integrating robotics and automation in construction operations. The duo’s pilot project is focused on increasing sustainable and affordable housing amid growing labor shortages.
In 2018, the United States sent more than 143 million tons of construction and demolition debris to landfills. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock
Increasing Sustainability in Construction
Traditional construction practices have a long way to go in sustainability. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. produced an estimated 600 million tons of construction and demolition (C&D) debris in 2018. Approximately 457 million tons of the C&D waste were put to “next use”—made into new products or materials—while around 143 million tons were sent to landfills.
When modular home manufacturing is combined with robotics and automation, it has the potential to offer significant environmental benefits. Robots improve quality control, minimizing faults and errors, which improves resource utilization. More efficient material usage means less waste and reduced carbon emissions from transporting additional materials and material waste.
Incorporating robotics and automation-driven water management technologies into building construction could improve sustainability by lowering water usage during production and supporting environmentally friendly water practices. Adding robotics and automation—together with the flexibility to incorporate innovative, sustainable design elements, such as rooftop solar panels, rainwater collection, and intelligent systems—would make the modular manufacturing of homes a greener alternative to conventional building methods.
A computer-generated image of an ABB industrial robot operating in a modular housing construction facility. Image used courtesy of ABB
Tackling Construction Labor Shortages
The construction industry is also facing a demand for labor, particularly skilled labor. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) trade association, an average of 390,000 jobs were generated each month in 2022, setting a record high. Additionally, the ABC found that nearly a fourth of the construction workforce is made up of individuals over the age of 55, meaning a substantial amount of the skilled and experienced construction workforce is nearing retirement.
Robots serve as one solution to the construction industry's labor problem. With robots performing monotonous, physically taxing, and potentially hazardous tasks, employers can focus on hiring for more attractive, human-centric tasks.
Furthermore, robots can function 24 hours a day, seven days a week, remedying labor shortages by allowing smaller crews to achieve more within a limited time frame. Robots can also improve consistency in construction operations, reducing errors and rework, equaling better-quality builds.
Using robotics and automation for modular housing construction could encourage sustainable practices and optimize operational efficiency. Image used courtesy of ABB
Automation and Robotics in Construction
As global demand for sustainable, affordable housing increases, so will demand for automated construction. According to an international study requested by ABB, 55% of construction companies said they employed robots, while automotive and manufacturing companies used 84% and 79%, respectively. The survey included 1,900 construction companies across China, Europe, and the U.S. According to the poll, 81% of construction companies intend to adopt or extend their incorporation of robotics and automation over the coming decade.
ABB and Porsche Consulting
The ABB-Porsche collaboration aims to bring more widespread adoption of robotics and automation to the construction industry. The culmination of Porsche Consulting’s knowledge in planning and operating high-performance factories and ABB's seasoned robotics expertise can help meet the demand for more sustainable and affordable housing while increasing attractive job opportunities for existing and future employees.