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The BIMobject® Blog

Will our future be built by robots?

We are proud to present Julia Fransson, deputy CEO of Swedish tech startup Build-r, as one of the speakers at BIMobject LIVE 2018 in Malmö, October 9-10. We can’t wait to listen as she shares her insights and experiences from leading the development of cutting-edge construction robotics.

It’s time for construction to catch up

Coming from an engineer background in biotechnology and management of technology innovation, Julia was new to construction when she started working at Build-r. She notes that the construction industry has a lot to learn from other industries who are further ahead on the path of digitalisation and automation.

“In all other industries we have seen robots revolutionising processes for the last couple of decades, whereas in the construction industry, manual labour is almost as prevalent as it was a 100 years ago”, she says.

Build-r is working to use and repurpose technology that is already out there, so that it suits the needs in construction. There are many gains to be made from automating processes and using robots to complement people.

“Robots never sleep, which means they can work 24/7. Less breaks mean higher productivity”, says Julia.

A close collaboration with NCC and ABB

The robot that Build-r is currently developing mounts plasterboards to walls. Julia notes that doing so is a work perfectly suited for a robot.

“We chose to focus on this task because it is extremely heavy, it’s repetitive and because getting the plasterboards in place is very time-consuming”

As robots will become more and more integrated in the workflows, Julia expect construction sites to become increasingly robot-friendly and easy for our robot colleagues to navigate.

“Our robot runs on batteries, so there is no need to move cords around. The goal is for it to eventually become entirely autonomous.”

Right now Build-r is developing a first generation prototype, cooperating closely with two large Swedish companies within construction and robotics; NCC and ABB.

“Let robots do what they're good at, so that we can focus on what we're good at”

Julia predicts that adding robots to the workforce, and eventually replacing many manual tasks with automated processes, will have a number of positive effects on the industry.

The trick, she says, is to identify what processes are suitable for automation. She believes that in the near future we will see a larger number of smaller, more mobile robots than we’ve seen before, working more in a more closely integrated way with people.

“I think we should let robots do what they do best, and allow people to focus on more humane tasks. Using technology this way will both raise productivity and reduce the risk of injuries dramatically.”