BRICK BY BRICK
SAM can work about 500 percent faster than humans, and discrepancy in labor cost that causes is significant. According to a report by Zero Hedge, 3,000 bricks boils down to a cost of 4.5 cents per brick. Based on a $15 per hour minimum wage rate and benefits, a human bricklayer with an average efficiency of about 500 bricks will cost construction firms about 32 cents per brick — that’s more than 7x the cost of an automated bricklayer.
SAM isn’t able to work independently, however. A builder still has to feed the bricks onto its conveyor belt, which will then be picked up by SAM’s robotic arm, slathered with mortar, and placed on the wall. From there, another bricklayer has to follow up SAM’s work by cleaning up excess mortar.
This kind of efficiency is emerging amid rising demand for construction services, which means it’s likely only a matter of time before the of technology will undergo mass adoption among construction companies.
Across the U.S., SAM has already been deployed in several construction sites. Now, Construction Robotics has announced its entry into the U.K. market later this year as it finalizes negotiations with various construction companies.
Not surprisingly, Since automation would likely lead to the displacement of numerous employees in the construction workforce, movement in that direction has been met with a lot of resistance. Many in the field out the complexity of other aspects of the construction process, which robots are currently not capable of handling. While this could limit the impact of automation on construction workers, it would not eliminate it. SAM is one example of why some experts are calling for nations to begin developing systems that will ensure our society can still function in a world where jobs will become less available to humans.
Across the street from Rohnert Park’s Green Music Center, construction workers are transforming a wide tract of land into the largest homebuilding site for Sonoma County in years.
In the coming months, three separate housing companies are slated to construct a total of 175 single-family homes on what was once farmland off Rohnert Park Expressway. The three projects, the first to be built in the city in 15 years, comprise the start of a new University District neighborhood that one day could hold more than 1,600 housing units.
“It’s been a long, long time in Sonoma County since we’ve seen something like that,” said Randy Waller, broker/owner of W Real Estate in Santa Rosa.
The three University District projects are the largest among a score of developments poised to get underway in the county this year.
The number of new homes built likely will remain a fraction of what was annually constructed in the decades before a national housing crash. But after eight years of paltry results, builders and officials expect a jump in an activity that is pushed by both strong demand and higher prices.
“We’re playing catchup,” said Keith Woods, chief executive officer at North Coast Builders Exchange, a Santa Rosa trade group. The activity won’t amount to a full rebound, he said, but “there is a really strong bounce-back underway.”