With the introduction of 3D printers on construction job sites, many are worried that robots will begin taking over the jobs of hardworking tradesmen. It’s more likely, however, that workers will be working WITH robots long before we’re completely replaced. For example, one company that makes exoskeletons to help paraplegics walk is also developing an exoskeleton specifically for constructions workers that will allow them to lift 50 pound pieces of equipment with one finger. Now, a former NASA and General Motors (GM) partnership has turned into an expedition into the blue collar fields.
The Robonaut 2 was originally designed for astronauts to allow them to do tasks much more quickly in space. Based upon its successes in other atmospheres, the concept is now being altered to be useful on Earth. According to Wired, GM has teamed up with a medical-technology firm called Bioservo to make this a reality. As you’ll see in the video below, also from Wired, a power tool battery (which happens to be a DeWalt battery, we’re not sure if they’re affiliated with this or not) is connected to a smart phone sized control board, which is wired to the glove. The programming of the glove allows workers to maintain grip on a tool for repetitive tasks without much effort.
GM currently plans to use and test these gloves in their warehouse, but, if they prove valuable, there’s no doubt the construction industry would be interested in the technology.
Full story: GM’s Roboglove Will Turn Workers Into Cyborgs | Wired
For over 3 years now, Trimble has been teaming up with Microsoft to make the mixed reality headset, the Microsoft HoloLens, a viable and useful tool for the construction industry. With Microsoft’s recent announcement of their next-gen headset, the HoloLens 2, Trimble also made an announcement about the impending release of a new wearable hard hat compatible device featuring the HoloLens 2.
Falls continue to be the number one leading cause of death on construction sites across the country, accounting for around 40% each year. Even if you can convince your construction crew to wear personal fall arrest systems each time they’re required, proper training is required to select the correct type of fall protection and the anchor points, as well as performing proper inspections of the equipment. An app called Harness Hero is trying to help solve the latter problem.
[guest post] Construction project owners are facing a big problem: paper based progress reports and invoices are making it nearly impossible to quickly find and address errors. The tool kit of the past included a magnifying glass, a pencil (and eraser) and a calculator. Armed with endless human resources, project owners would diligently review paper based documentation for discrepancies. This MO is no longer feasible in the modern construction environment.
JBKnowledge, a construction technology and consultancy company, has been producing their annual Construction Technology Report since 2012. Now in its 7th year, it is far and away the most comprehensive collection of survey results in the construction technology sector.
I’m a strong proponent of reducing the amount of pen and paper used on construction jobsites. Handwriting notes is great for personal use, but as soon as you need to get those notes or reports to someone else, you either spend time duplicating your work on a computer or never get around to communicating, because your notes were misplaced, destroyed, or illegible. Fieldwire, a field software for collaborating on plans, punch lists, and scheduling, among others, has recently announced the release of a custom form building tool to reduce the need for paper on your jobsite.
As much as we like to push for the digitization of the construction jobsite on Construction Junkie, there’s no doubt that there are many within the construction workforce that are still apprehensive to go fully electronic. There’s something to be said for feeling and manipulating something with your hands, as opposed to pointing and clicking. SlatPlanner is a new way that construction companies can electronically build a project schedule, while maintaining a hands-on approach.
Ekso Bionics has been making exoskeletons since 2005. Originally designed with the military in mind, but then later shifted to physical therapy. In more recent years, they have begun targeting more physical professions, especially those with repetitive tasks or a lot of lifting. One of their most recent products is called the EksoVest.
As mobile apps and project management software are becoming more prominent on construction sites around the world, it’s important that those getting ready to enter the industry, whether it be through college or trade schools, get the training they need to hit the ground running with these programs. PlanGrid,a construction project management and mobile productivity software, has recently announced the release of PlanGrid Schools & Unions, which gives access to hands-on training curriculum and software licenses to industry educators.
When we first began talking about construction technology in 2015, there were a lot of pie-in-the-sky ideas. Many products had financial backing, but no legitimate proof of concept or path to a commercial market. Fast forward just 3 years and many of those same products are starting to hit limited jobsites and have a viable chance to succeed in the industry.
Autodesk, the software company synonymous with architectural and engineering design, has gobbled up yet another construction related software just a few week after its massive acquisition of PlanGrid. It’s most recent acquisition, BuildingConnected, will help bolster Autodesk’s growing construction brand and help them grow additional profit pipelines.