The heavy construction industry is on a path from automation toward autonomy
Embracing technology-enabled solutions on the jobsite becomes a must in this digital era to improve efficiency, profitability, quality, and safety, and attract talent while reducing schedule, cost, and environmental impacts.
Nowadays, we are all aware of the advantages of using machine control and automation technology in heavy construction. But what is next?
The era of autonomy is just around the corner. To enable contractors to be prepared for that greater level of autonomy, we need to reimagine construction solutions with what our customers can confidently start their transformation journey on the path towards autonomy.
Machine control: from guidance to automation
Machine control solutions use data from sources such as 3D-engineered models to guide construction equipment, with enhanced location referencing to provide accurate horizontal and vertical positioning for precise grading, milling, or paving. Machine control technology references the position of the cutting edges or pavement molds using GPS satellites, robotic total stations, lasers, or combinations of these methods.
Machine control is a subtle, often invisible way of automation, that sheds new light on the autonomy the heavy construction industry aims for.
For instance, semi-automation and automation are already in place, encompassing everything from the site machines to the data moving from the machines to the office.
Semi-automation: one step toward autonomy
Recently, we released the semi-automated excavator solution, which guides operators to the perfect target depth smoothly and quickly. As semi-automated solutions require fewer people on-site, they help address the shortage of skilled labour. We expect the application to become even faster, more accurate and easier to use in the next step. We are also working on solutions that facilitate data checking and validation, which will help speed up processes and make them less error-prone.
One step at a time
Autonomy does not happen in a day. Our technology is paving the way toward a more autonomous and connected ecosystem.
Today, 2D and 3D sensors already enable semi-automated or automated processes. The move into more autonomous cycles will happen in steps, with each step gaining increased acceptance and approval. Today, we are on steps two and three of the seven to eight steps it will likely take to reach fully autonomous operations. Getting to the last step of autonomy may take a while, but the industry is taking leaps forward every year, and it may come quicker than we think.