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    Robot Bricklayers to Combat Post-Brexit Labour Shortages, Trade Unions - Report

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    Robots are the latest Brexit threat, according to a new report. UK construction firms are relying on autonomous machines more as a strategy to stabilize labour manpower in post-Brexit Britain.

    report from Toronto-based real estate company Altus Group found that 47 percent of British firms believe autonomous building robots will disrupt the construction industry, compared with 34 percent globally, indicating Britain's growing receptivity to builder drones and machines, it said.

    It added that 63 percent of UK construction firms believed that building information modelling (BIM) would cause "major disruptive changes". 41 percent also believed that drones would have a big impact and 38 percent noted smart building technologies.

    The report concluded that British construction companies will turn to robot bricklayers after concerns that Brexit will reduce migrants available for work, along with trade unions demanding more pay. 

    "Construction labour and skilled trade worker shortages along with overall cost escalation pressures are being felt across the UK," the report stated, adding that "housing market pressures related to supply issues continue to fuel demand [and] more infrastructure projects like the High Speed Rail Link (HS2) move ahead — employing about 10,000 workers over four years." 

    "Approximately one quarter of London's construction workforce is already made up of migrant workers who are now facing an uncertain post-Brexit future, and trade unions are campaigning for wage increases which will further compound construction costs." 

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    "With EU net migration having fallen to its lowest level since 2012, and record employment, contractors are already struggling to fill vacancies and close skills gaps," Ian Wimpenny, director of Altus Group said in a statement, adding that "it's unsurprising that UK developers are more open to disruptive technologies to keep Britain building post Brexit." 

    Contractors have already begun trialling the autonomous machines on construction sites throughout the UK. Robot manufacturing companies have said their machines can lay 3,000 bricks a day, compared with 300-600 for the average bricklaying human, Mr. Winpenny said, adding that drones are used for surveying, inspections, and progress monitoring. 

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    A 2018 National Building Specification report cited claims that BIM tech use increased from roughly 10% in 2011 to over 70% in 2018. BIM helps construction firms reduce building costs and operating built assets, which reduces project durations, Richard Waterhouse, NBS CEO stated. 

    Altus Group surveyed over 400 top property developers across the world holding more than £200 million in projects.

    New York-based Construction Robotics and Australia-based Fastbrick are some of the biggest companies in disruptive constructive technologies. Volvo, JCB, and Caterpillar are pushing their own autonomous construction vehicle projects.

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    housing construction, Brexit, United Kingdom
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