Construction industry
Road sign

How is technology shaping construction?

How are new tools promising a world of safer, cleaner and more efficient construction? How is the very cutting edge of modern technological development shaping the way we build the world around us?

We’ll look at major new developments, from exoskeletons to nanotechnology to 3D printed buildings, and the brave new world (and unique set of challenges) they’re ushering in.

New technology and safety protocols have already made construction a much safer place to work


Major Injuries in Great Britain

past year 5 year average
reported injuries
1,913 2,815
major injuries per 100,000
156 192

Further technological developments promise to make this work even safe

584,000 DAYS

were lost due to a workplace injury in the construction industry.

Merging humans with machines

FORTIS Exoskeleton

Developed by Lockheed Martin

Fortis exoskeleton
  • Lightweight and powerless
  • Reduce muscle fatigue by 300%
  • Allows heavy loads transfer
    (up to 36lbs)
  • Increase productivity by 2 to 27 times.

Dual Arm Power Amplification Robot

Developed by ActiveLink, a Panasonic subsidiary

Dual arm robot
  • Ability to easily hoist objects weighing up to 100kgs
  • People wearing it can move at 5 miles per hour
  • Costs approximately $5,000 each
  • Available from 2015

Decreasing the need for constant repetition has long been the holy grail of the construction industry

this will greatly decrease strain on workers, give them abilities they never before had, and free up their time for more taxing tasks

"This invention aims to provide a simple means whereby brick may be taken up, transported to a wall, and laid in the wall, mortar being deposited on each course, and the mortar being troweled off and smoothed down, to make a good bed for the next succeeding course of brick"

Bricklaying Machine Patent
filed January 18,1928 by Jasper N. Youngblood

Machines that improve workers’ efficiency

  • Productivity improvement
  • Quality and reliability
  • Safety
  • Better working conditions
  • Standardisation of components
  • Life cycle cost savings

Semi-Automated Masonry

SAM robotic system is the world’s first used for on-site masonry. It is not designed to replace humans but work with them to help with the repetitive and strenuous parts of the job.



20% faster

1500-2500 more
bricks per day

30% cheaper

more savings
in job costs


Across Japanese construction sites welding time has dropped dramatically since the use of robotics welding systems.


Successfully developed autonomous robots that cooperate and build structures much larger than themselves without the need for a central command or prescribed roles.

3d printing race
$1.7B 2011
$2.2B 2012
$4B 2015
$10.8B 2021

Value of 3D printing market worldwide


of manufacturers are adopting
3D printing in some way

The race is on to perform 3D printing on a massive scale.

At this moment in time there is a difficult balancing act between print speed and final quality.


68 square-metre home
8 days

  • WikiHouse 4.0 allows you to download blueprints from the internet for free
  • It is the first time a two storey home can be digitally cut and built using open source

Building automation has become increasingly common in the past two decades

we will only see robots full potential in construction when they do not just copy human work, but enhance it

Keeping track of technology

Technology Range Accuracy Cost Application
GPS (Basic) Very large 10M Low Vehicle positioning
GPS (Differential) Large 1M Moderate 3D machine control, surveying
RF/wi-fi Large 2-5M Moderate Asset management, personnel tracking
Laser indoor GPS Moderate 0.2MM Very High 3D machine control
Magnetometers Large >1M Low Asset management

Working with machines that are designed to work with little human control and interaction presents a unique challenge

How do we co-ordinate them?

Each machine must work in unity with others acquiring data from sensors that accurately track their position and every measurement. The technologies capable of doing this can be very expensive preventing them from being used on a construction site with a limited budget.


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