April 5, 2018

Do we really need automation? and, Look! Another 3D Printed House.

Today I read and interesting Interview with Fieldwire's CEO, Yves Frinault, on Construction Dive. He talked about the importance of enabling the construction workers, the foreman, the craftsman and all other blue-collar people on a construction site. He also said he's not very excited about automation and construction robots because that'll come at the expense of many jobs that don't really need to be automated, because the flexibility and insight that a person has is bigger and deeper than what a robot could possibly provide.

I agree with him, there are things that don't need automation. Even when we're talking about pre-fabricated buildings, these blue-collar jobs don't need/should go away. If you measure productivity as the output in a determined amount of time, a craftsman has a lot of room to improve. But he can only do it if the resources he needs are where and when he needs them, a robot also has constraints for it to operate. The difference lies is that we accept that a lot of previous work has to be done for the robot and we do it for him (it, sorry), but won't do the same for the tradesman. As an industry, where do we want to put our focus on? We want to enable people or enable machines? I leave the question open because I don't have an opinion on it.

Now, as a late Easter Egg, Hy-Flex is teaming up with Cornell University to develop a pumping system for 3D concrete and there is another concrete 3D printed house in Europe. In Milan to be precise, but why they claim to be the first one is still a mystery.

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