Construction Industry Council kicks off robot workshops to herald the robotics revolution in construction

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The Construction Industry Council hosted the Kickoff Seminar for Workshops on Construction Robots to illustrate how robotics and automation can enhance future construction processes by improving safety, productivity and sustainability in complex building projects.

Robots are starting to transform the construction industry as innovative companies develop machines that can assist workers in handling hazardous and strenuous tasks. International construction firms increasingly realize robots’ multiple benefits for building infrastructure, improving quality, productivity and addressing labor shortages. In Hong Kong, the construction industry is poised for increased robotics adoption in the coming years in sync with international trends.

Held at the Hong Kong Institute of Construction (Kowloon Bay Campus), the Construction Industry Council (CIC)’s Kickoff Seminar for Workshops on Construction Robots aimed to accelerate the adoption of construction robots and push new technology training citywide.

While bringing together local and mainland China experts to exchange views on transforming the construction industry with the latest technologies, the event showcased over 20 ready-to-market construction robots currently being developed or deployed for tasks covering the entire building life cycle – from grinding and painting, to welding and drilling, and more. It was an eye-opening experience for industry participants who appreciated the opportunity to view technological advances firsthand, and to raise questions on the spot.

Building the future together

In his welcome address to industry leaders, Ir Thomas Ho, Chairman of the CIC, emphasized the importance of embracing cutting-edge technologies: “The rise of robotics heralds a revolution in construction. I encourage firms and construction professionals to proactively incorporate advanced technologies such as modular integrated construction (MiC), digitization, and robots.”

Driven by the government’s investments in the infrastructure, the city’s annual construction volume will soar to HK$300 billion, it makes manpower supply all the more critical in delivering the projects, hence there is plenty of room for technological applications to upgrade the industry’s productivity. Ho stressed that popularizing the practical use of construction robots, not just their research and development, would allow the industry to “create safer work sites, increase efficiency, and improve quality across building sites in our city.”

In the following opening remarks, Ms. Winnie Ho, Secretary for Housing, HKSARG, pinpointed the challenges presently facing Hong Kong’s industry, from labor shortages and an aging workforce to health and safety risks. “With a target of delivering 360,000 public housing units over the next decade, intelligent robotics will prove instrumental in addressing these issues, especially considering Hong Kong’s uniquely constrained construction sites,” she said.

The implementation of robotics brings additional benefits beyond just addressing our present needs. “It will create new professional and training opportunities in advanced technology and intelligent management systems. Encouragingly, the Housing Department has identified 37 projects that will gradually incorporate construction robots. Contractors indicating the use of robots in their bids will also receive additional merits in project assessment. Looking to the future, we envision a more diversified supply chain with localized technological innovation,” she stated.

Construction robots parade

Among the extensive line-up of robots on showcase, the Building Surveying Robot, developed by GuangDong Bright Dream Robotics Company Limited, utilizes advanced artificial intelligence (AI) surveying techniques to generate accurate building inspection reports and 3D models to guide the Concrete Interior Wall Polishing Robot and Concrete Ceiling Polishing Robot in providing high-quality finishing of walls and ceilings through autonomous polishing and dust extraction functions, reducing manual labor requirements on construction projects.

Many of the ready-to-market robots featured demonstrate how innovative technologies can enhance both safety and productivity on building sites. Take the SQD-Robo Painter from Transcendance Company Limited & SquareDog Robotics Limited, for instance. It has a versatile six-axis arm that can paint complex indoor spaces up to 3.2 meters high to strict international standards, helping construction firms meet safety guidelines by removing worker exposure to hazards.

This robot’s compact size allows access through narrow openings, serving as a complement to the heavy lifting capabilities of the SQD-Robo Follower autonomous cart, which nudges loads of 250kg to prevent worker injuries from manual handling through obstacle avoidance navigation activated with a single click.

Drones are increasingly being used for aerial inspection, progress monitoring, and site surveying. Dronesurvey Asia’s Flyability Elios 3 Aerial Robotic Drone leverages a protected casing and LiDAR scanning to generate interior inspections and 3D models without GPS signal, facilitating out-of-sight flight by detecting surroundings with survey-grade LiDAR while employing bright lighting, 4K video, and infrared imaging to access hazardous areas.

Ho said visiting the exhibition area showcasing the diverse range of construction robots that can readily be deployed to help frontline construction workers brought him great pleasure. With overwhelmingly positive industry response and continued government funding – including the CIC’s subsidy for the industry via the Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF) for up to 80% of the qualified robots – he was confident that huge progress could be made in meeting Hong Kong’s construction demands through pioneering robotic and digital solutions.

“Let us rally together for the robotics revolution. Working as one, we will build an even greater city of Hong Kong for all,” Ho concluded.

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