Might 42% of Electricians Actually Be Changed by Robots?

Professor Lonny Simonian from the California Polytechnic State University spoke to NECA Live participants on Wednesday afternoon about the increasing use of robotics in construction. In his 40-minute virtual session entitled “Robots in construction: current use and outlook for the future”, he presented important research results and findings from a research project by ELECTRI International on the same topic. In particular, Simonian discussed the short and long-term effects that robots could have on the electronics industry.

“The focus of the research is on informing electrical installers about developments in robots in the construction industry and preparing them for their possible future use,” said Simonian. “They are currently in use, but reports show that they will grow significantly.”

Before going into facts and figures, Simonian first explained the term “robot” to the audience using the IEEE description.

“In the sense of the IEEE, a robot is an autonomous machine that is able to sense its environment, perform calculations, make decisions and perform actions in the real world,” he said.

He next explained the different market segments for robots, including:

  1. Public (defense, security / surveillance, emergency response, public safety, resource management).
  2. Research and teaching (k-12 education, colleges / universities, vocational training, research, exploration)
  3. Industry (manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, mining and quarrying, agriculture)
  4. Commercial (healthcare and quality of life, supply, transportation, warehouse distribution, wholesale and retail)
  5. Consumers (toys and hobbies, home care and / or quality of life, social / entertainment, personal transportation).

Simonian went into the results of the ELECTRI International research project and listed 20 types of robots suitable for construction, including robotic arm, 3D printing, layout, upper body exoskeleton, snake, material elevator, vehicle, mobile platform and more.

Simonian then discussed growth projections for robots, citing that a study predicts the construction robotics market will grow from $ 22.7 million in 2018 to $ 226.0 million per year worldwide, with more than 7,000 robots by 2025 Construction-related robotics market is projected to reach $ 470.61 million by the end of 2026 – an average annual growth rate of 10.4%.

What exactly do these numbers mean for workers in the construction industry? Citing a third study, Simonian said that “by 2057, up to 2.7 million construction positions could be replaced by machines”.

In the electronics industry in particular, the numbers sound pretty bleak. In the USA in particular, there is an automation potential of around 42% for electricians. Carpenters and plumbers do 50% worse, and plant engineers have seen robots replace a staggering 88% of their jobs.

“Remember, 2057 is still a long way off,” concluded Simonian. “In the near future, jobs will not be replaced by automation, but rather supplemented by it. Good examples of this are drones that collect BIM information and data, as well as autonomous robots that perform laser scans. “

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