“There are four robots on this machine,” says Blueprint Robotics CEO Jerry Smalley. “It cuts it nails it screws it trims, it drills.”
“In other words, these machines do what people used to,” wrote Chris Welch for ABC Action 2 News about the Baltimore, Maryland based robotics firm.
“Every other industry has brought automation to the solution. This is just an industry that’s time is now to bring automation,” says Smalley. “We’re no different than automotive, or aerospace, or medical, this is just our moment to bring automation.”
The Daily Business News on MHProNews have been tracking developments in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and related technologies for some years for factory-built housing pros. There are firms with deep pockets that have entered the housing field with robotics, automation, and various kinds of modular housing. ICYMI, or need a refresher, Katerra is a firm that has had large sums poured into it by SoftBank.
Billion Dollar Startup Modular Builder, Using Robotics, Could Soon Rival Clayton Homes’ Total Sales
Blueprint Robotics says they think they can cut construction time by 20 to 40 percent, using modular building and robotics.
“It’s more precise, higher quality, less cost, less risk,” explains Smalley. “You know the cost of our product before we commence, a more predictable schedule, and at the end of the day a better just a totally better product.”
Blueprint Robotics still has dozens of employees on the factory floor daily. Human workers are still needed. Once “For example, once a robot builds a wall, an electrician will still need to install the wiring. Other workers on the floor are there for quality control,” said Welch.
Architect Richard Pedranti talks about his experience working with Blueprint Robotics.
Pedranti said in the video above that in Sweden, some 90 percent of home building is now factory-based. That’s a look into why the U.S. tech giants are laser focused on factory-construction. See the related report, linked below, for more details.
$300 Billion Market, As Predicted, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Alexa Fund Dives Deeper into PreFab Homes
“Weird to See” Robots Building Homes…
Roy Collins worked for decades at traditional construction job sites. Now, he is watching as machines are doing what he did. “He says it’s weird to see,” said Welch.
“Being in the industry 20 years I never thought this would be capable of happening,” Collins says.
Welch points to the shortage of construction workers, and then cites Jeff Gwinn, with the National Construction Trade Association, who claims it won’t hurt the building trades at all. They insist it won’t take away jobs from skilled workers.
“As far as increasing productivity and holding down costs, it’s absolutely a good thing,” Gwinn said. “It’s not gonna hurt the industry at all.”
A HUD Code manufactured home builder tells MHProNews he’s not as sure about robotic and automation, explaining that you can’t lay off a machine when times get tough.
The Competing Challenges
But beyond the higher upfront costs of automation, or the fact that you can lay a machine off, isn’t there also a downward pressure of the wages of factory-construction workers? Won’t more machines mean less people, over time? Won’t that be downward pressure of wages?
Be that as it may, Collins said “It’s quicker, better; you get a better product, material is better. It’s a better way to build.”
Therein lies just one of several points of potential tension between owners and workers, as a new economy is emerging in America.
Yes, the automotive industry ‘survived’ that move toward more automation, but there were human jobs eliminated in the process. What happens when robots are doing the work, and people aren’t needed? Who will pay the wages that allow working people to buy homes?
These are the broader questions that voices across the left-right spectrum need to grapple with. Meanwhile, the robots are here, and more are coming. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com. Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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