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ABB and Porsche join forces to automate the construction industry

25 October, 2023

ABB Robotics and Porsche Consulting are collaborating to help automate the construction industry. They say that their collaboration will help meet the need for more affordable and sustainable buildings and reduce the environmental impact of construction, amid widespread labour and skill shortages.

As part of the collaboration, the two organisations will run a pilot project to develop innovative practices for manufacturing modular housing.

“The construction industry is facing numerous challenges,” says Eberhard Weiblen, chairman of Porsche Consulting’s executive board. “Highly automated factories for buildings can deliver higher quality and more affordable housing. By combining ABB’s leading robotic solutions and Porsche Consulting’s knowledge in planning and running state-of-the-art factories, we want to help transform this important industry.”

“We think there is a clear opportunity to transform this sector and the way homes are built by automating the process of manufacturing modular components,” adds Marc Segura, president of ABB Robotics. “Greater, more intelligent automation is the answer to widespread labour shortages, and this collaboration will boost productivity, allow greater customisation, and enable more sustainable and efficient construction practices.”

Labour shortages are contributing to a shortage of housing in many countries. In the US, for example, there is a housing shortfall of nearly four million homes, while Germany is expected to have housing supply shortages in 35 cities by 2030.

The traditional construction sector is struggling to meet the demand for new homes, while the environmental performance and efficiency of buildings needs to improve, along with the adoption of more sustainable construction methods, such as reducing the transportation of raw materials to construction sites and eliminating the costs and impact of removing unwanted materials and waste. This is estimated to account for up to 25% of the material transported to building sites.

Modular construction can reduce material wastage and the number of days lost to adverse weather conditions. Factories also offer safer and more pleasant working environments. At present, construction workers account for around 30% of all workplace injuries and are four times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents compared to other sectors.

The construction industry lags behind others in adopting automation and robotics technologies. In a global survey of 1,900 construction businesses in Europe, the US and China, commissioned by ABB, only 55% of construction companies said they were using robots, compared with 84% in the automotive sector and 79% in manufacturing. But the survey also revealed that 81% of construction businesses plan to introduce or increase their use of robotics and automation in the coming decade.

ABB and Porsche will collaborate on a pilot project on robotic assembly of modular houses

“We understand the importance of sustainable housing and believe the transfer of technology and expertise to the construction sector will deliver the positive impact we have seen in other industries,” says Weiblen.

“We will bring our blueprint to life and demonstrate how robotic modular construction can help support the changes our society is demanding,” adds Segura. “The joint approach will take modular construction to a new level in terms of quality, efficiency, design, and sustainability.”

Porsche Consulting, founded in 1994, is one of Germany’s leading management consultancies. Its experts support companies around the world as well as within the Volkswagen Group, in strategic transformation and performance management.

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