Suzhou recently issued a guideline on promotion of smart construction, stressing the need to apply construction robots first in pilot projects.
Starting in May this year, government-invested housing projects with a total floor area of more than 50,000 sqm should take the lead in trialing technologically mature construction robots, says the guideline, released by Suzhou Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development
It goes on to state that by the end of 2023, the city’s housing projects totaling over 50,000 sqm should fully use robots to assist with construction.
Suzhou is not alone in encouraging a bigger role of robotics in smart construction. In November last year, it joined 23 cities nationwide to become a pilot in a smart building drive. Over a three-year period, the prosperous city will actively explore measures to upgrade its construction sector through technology.
Notably, Suzhou issued another policy days earlier, mandating the quota of four types of robots, designed for surface flattening, plastering, painting and ALC panel installation, to be used in construction, in a bid to reduce construction costs.
These types of robots will be given priority in deployment as part of the trial program.
China is facing a demographic crisis. Worse, as the younger generations increasingly shun construction work, due to the risks, dirtiness and backbreaking workload involved, the construction sector is grappling with a dwindling workforce.
Public information shows that China’s construction workers are aged 50 on average, compounding the labor shortage while also making robots an inevitable substitute.
Driven by an infrastructure boom, China’s massive construction sector grew from 13.7 trillion yuan (US$1.99 trillion) in 2012 to 29.3 trillion yuan in 2021, the national bureau of statistics said.
In 2021, the area under construction in the country amounted to 15.75 billion sqm, an increase of 5.4% year on year.
In a stark contrast, China’s buildings use little digital technologies, with IT investment making up only 0.08% of the industry’s revenue. This represents a fraction of the average of 1% among developed Western economies, China Construction Industry Association said.
Market data suggest that by 2025, China’s prefabricated construction market will reach 1.6 trillion yuan. It has become a consensus that robotics will steadily replace humans and become instrumental in automating risky, inefficient and occasionally poorly implemented tasks.