Balfour predicts largely worker-free sites by 2050

Aaron Morby 5 years ago
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Balfour Beatty predicts construction sites will be largely human-free by 2050 as advances in offsite construction and new digital technology transform the industry.

The few key workers left on site will be aided by advanced exoskeletons
The few key workers left on site will be aided by advanced exoskeletons

The contractor admits its vision of worker-free construction site may seem far-fetched today, but believes construction is entering a new age of technology.

A new report published by the firm: “Innovation 2050: A Digital Future for the Infrastructure industry” paints a picture in stark contrast to today with remotely managed sites using drones and a handful of key workers wearing sci-fi exoskeletons to raise performance.

In around 30 years time Balfour believes work will have moved off-site, machinery will be controlled remotely and new materials and techniques will drive cost, safety and efficiency improvements.

Vision of construction sites in 2050

 

Robots will work in teams to build complex structures using dynamic new materials. Elements of the build will self-assemble.

Drones flying overhead will scan the site constantly, inspecting the work and using the data collected to predict and solve problems before they arise, sending instructions to robotic cranes and diggers and automated builders with no need for human involvement.

The role of the human overseer will be to remotely manage multiple projects simultaneously, accessing 3D and 4D visuals and data from the on-site machines, ensuring the build is proceeding to specification.

The very few people accessing the site itself will wear robotically enhanced exoskeletons and will use neural-control technology to move and control machinery and other robots on site.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group chief executive, said: “We are experiencing a digital revolution, redefining how we as an industry operate; becoming faster, better and more agile.

“By adopting and embracing the rise of digital solutions we are more able to deliver efficient, effective and safer solutions to our clients and customers.

“These changes will mean we have to ensure our industry trains our current and future employees with the skills to exploit the use of new technology, new materials and new methods of working.”

He added that technology had already revolutionised contemporary life to such an extent that it was not so hard to imagine radical changes for construction not least the emergence of new roles and evolution of new skills to support delivery.

 

Impact of new construction technology revolution

 

  • Help to bridge the skills gap by creating jobs, roles and industries that don’t yet exist and attracting younger generations to our industry, ultimately leading to a more agile workforce with new skills
  • Benefit all stakeholders through increased productivity, improved efficiency and increased value and quality while helping to bridge the skills gap and up-skill our workforce
  • Enable us to deliver projects for the public more efficiently and effectively through the use of such technology as Building Information Modelling, augmented and virtual reality, cloud data storage, telematics, drones and data analytics

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