Rise of Robotics in Construction Could Lead to Glazing Innovations

As labor shortages continue, many companies look to alternative ways to complete projects quickly, efficiently, and properly. Robotics may be the solution, according to two recent studies. With promises for increased safety and productivity, robotic technologies also reduce expenses, data suggests.

According to a report by Transparency Market Research (TMR), the global market for construction-related robotics is projected to reach a value of $470.61 million by the end of 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4%.

With many industries already adopting automated technologies, both mid-size and major companies are showing an interest in the construction and automation robotics (CAR) market.

According to another report by Tractica, a market research firm that’s based in Boulder, Colo., machines could change the way the construction industry creates buildings, homes and other infrastructure altogether. According to both the Tractica and TMR reports, some of the positive changes robots help to facilitate include:
• Increased accuracy and productivity—technology can be programmed to a precise calibration, which decreases the margin for error, improving quality and speed. Also, with automated robots, the ability to work around the clock and in more harsh conditions than humans presents the opportunity for increased productivity.
• Improved safety—some specialized robots can work in dark, small, airless spaces or tall building façades that are dangerous for humans.
• Lower expenses—the combination of increased productivity and improved
safety leads to an overall cost reduction, the TMR report suggests. Expenses for health insurance, labor, conflict resolution and lawsuits decrease significantly when robots replace humans in construction-related positions.

Even though these reports predict optimism for the future of the CAR market, the construction industry has only recently begun to accept this type of technology, previously displaying reservations against automation.

One of the largest concerns about the emergence of robots in the construction industry is the idea that they will cause people to lose their jobs, the TMR report claims. The report added that the cost of manufacturing, assembling and using robots onsite currently outweighs the cost of employing laborers, therefore robots do not pose an imminent threat to workers at this time.

Another obstacle for CAR is the unstructured and unpredictable nature of construction environments, the TMR report adds. It suggests that robotics engineers face challenges creating machines that adapt to a broad variety of landscapes.

Developments have only recently begun to solve some of these concerns, but with peaked interest and growing demands, the industry shows promise for eliminating those and other obstacles.

How to Attract Skilled Workers During a Labor Shortage

Many glass and glazing companies have been impacted by the ongoing labor shortage as skilled workers become increasingly difficult to find. John Manzella, a global business and economic analysis expert, discussed how companies can attract and keep skilled workers in a webinar titled “U.S. Labor Shortage and Retention,” hosted by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s (AAMA) Western Region.

Manzella pointed out that it’s not just a low unemployment rate that is causing a labor shortage, but also the lower labor force participation rate, which includes the people employed or actively looking for work.

Some of the major factors driving down the participation rate, according to Manzella, are a lack of support for childcare services, students staying in school longer and the opioid crisis.

One solution for the country’s labor shortage is to increase legal immigration, according to Manzella, who pointed out that legal immigrants are more likely to start businesses and less likely to be incarcerated.

He also said it’s important for companies to invest more in employee education and training, which makes them feel valued and become more productive. Other ways for companies to attract skilled workers include hiring older workers, offering more generous daycare options and schedule flexibility, and implementing referral programs.

By 2025, millennials will make up three quarters of the workforce, so it’s important for companies to attract them now. This is possible through tangible short-term benefits, social activities and a focus on company culture.

Many companies, especially those involved in manufacturing, could also increase automation, which boosts productivity as well, according to Manzella.

AGMT Program Officially Certifies First Round of Glaziers.

On July 31, 2019, the Architectural Glass and Metal Technician (AGMT) Certification Program certified 177 professional glaziers from all over North America.

AGMT is a personnel certification program that features an independent third-party assessment. The program earned ANSI accreditation earlier in the year, and began officially testing candidates in February 2019. The certification testing includes a knowledge-based and performance-based test. The purpose of each exam is to assess a glazier’s knowledge, hands-on skills and ability. To earn certification, candidates must have 7,500 hours of glazing experience and demonstrate proficiency in all areas of the glazing test including storefront, curtainwall. safety, sealing and general glazing body of knowledge.

“l think it’s a great program and perfectly prepped for glaziers. This program will help the industry tremendously in the future and make for qualified installers,” says Jason Liskai, an AGMT certified glazier with Toledo Mirror and Glass.

While still in its first year of operation, development of the certification began nearly three years ago and has included numerous members of the glazing industry. The goal has been to create a testing standard that will improve the glazing industry in the long-run and establish a higher-quality caliber for construction.

AGMT program manager Ben Beeler adds, “It says that the glazing technician clan and the contractor who employs the certified technician is committed to an elevated quality standard. When a workforce has been fully evaluated and certified to have the required skills and abilities to perform work properly, the first time, it will have a positive effect on the bottom line of all involved in the construction chain.”

Certified glaziers receive an official certificate, ID card and hardhat sticker. Additionally, each glazier is listed on the program site — under the Certified Personnel Listing.

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