Boston Dynamics & Trimble: The Future of Construction
Back in October, and announced a strategic alliance to integrate their respective robotic technology and construction data collection technologies, to potentially automate a number of construction roles that may otherwise be deemed dangerous, or just not cost-effective to maintain.
This alliance is based on the utilisation of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot platform, which has the unique ability to navigate dynamic and potentially dangerous environments, as well as maintaining repetitive tasks, alongside Trimble’s data collection sensors, which can provide accurate data acquisition, streamlining the process of information from the field to office.
Four-legged Friends For All
, a US builder, developer and engineering services provider, has been one of the first customers to pilot the advantages of this new tech through Trimble’s Early Experience Program, specifically designed to field-test the suitability of the technology in actual construction projects.
Other companies will also be able to preview the development of these autonomous robots, something that will be invaluable to working out the kinks in this new dynamic, and potentially setting the stage for more robotic systems in more complex areas in and outside of construction.
Martin Holmgren, general manager, Building Field Solutions at Trimble, notes the potential of robotics in these areas:
"Robots will play a crucial role in automated construction workflows and can augment the human workforce by handling dirty, dull and dangerous tasks.
Our experience with early adopters like Mortenson gave us visibility into the transformative potential of an integrated solution that seamlessly marries a world-class robot with construction-specific sensors and workflows. We're excited about this alliance and the potential to bring unprecedented improvements in safety, quality and productivity to our construction customers."
We’re likely to see the fruits of this combination of tech by the second quarter of 2021, and with distribution partners in the US, Canada, the UK, Japan and New Zealand, to name a few, the entire world may be shifting closer to more robotics in all spheres of construction, and manufacturing, than ever before.
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.