We are developing human-centred technology solutions that will facilitate the work of construction professionals — creating a safer, greener, more efficient and rewarding working environment. From robots with vision and intelligence to exoskeletons for workers’ protection and support, we are building the construction industry’s future, vital to European and global economic development. Find out how our HumanTech technologies will positively impact construction workers day to day.

The construction sector is an essential part of the European economy. It includes various activities related to designing, constructing, and maintaining buildings, infrastructure, and other structures.

According to data from the European Union’s (EU) Commission Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, it accounted for 9% of the EU’s GDP and “employed around 18.7 million people, representing 7.3% of total employment. The industry includes large construction companies and many small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The construction sector is a crucial economic growth and employment driver in many EU member states. In addition, it contributes to the development of infrastructure, including transportation, energy, and telecommunications networks, which are critical for the functioning of modern economies.

However, the industry faces challenges, including reducing its environmental impact, improving safety standards, and addressing skills shortages. The EU has implemented several policies and initiatives to support the development of a sustainable and competitive construction sector, such as the European Green Deal and the Horizon Europe research and innovation program.

Humantech_Construction challenges
In this blog post, the first of our #HumanTechBenefits series, we analyse the benefits our HumanTech technologies will bring to construction workers.

Solutions provided by HumanTech

At HumanTech, we are dedicated to developing innovative, human-centred technologies that go beyond the current state of the art. With them, we strive to contribute to the digitalisation of the construction industry, making it safer, more productive and attractive to a new generation of highly skilled professionals, and accelerate the sector’s green transition.

Our solutions will have a major positive impact on construction and bring great improvements for its workers.

Humantech_Construction tech solutions

Collaborative and interactive robotics

As a vital part of automated production lines, physical barriers typically isolate robotic systems, and workers are not allowed to be around. However, a new concept of collaborative robots (cobots) is safer for workers to be around during operation. They often have integrated mechanisms for safe stops when a collision is detected before severe damage is done to a worker or property.

Multiple tasks — monotonous, dangerous or little productive (e.g. transportation of materials from one place to another) — can be done with interactive robots.

What are the benefits of the HumanTech cobots?

This technology allows workers and robots to execute tasks together. It is also highly accepted by the industry and its workers and has great flexibility in dynamic environments. However, cobots still require significant advanced training to operate, and robot programming time can be a bottleneck for efficiency.

The development of intuitive communication channels (such as speech or gestures) between robots and workers can significantly contribute to the efficient deployment of cobots in construction sites.

Robotic technology can contribute to

  • the execution of supporting tasks (e.g., brick hand-over), allowing the worker to concentrate on core-competence ones,
  • carrying out physically demanding tasks (e.g., moving heavy loads),
  • and fulfilling time-consuming, repetitive tasks (e.g., material handling).

Collaborative and interactive robotics allows workers to

  • safely work close to robots,
  • use ordinary language and intuitive gestures to give robots simple commands (no advanced robotic training is required),
  • understand the robot’s behaviour and be comfortable working with them.

Exoskeleton technologies

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are a leading cause of injury among construction workers (its rate in construction is 16% higher than in all industries combined). In their occurrence, several risk factors are involved related to the task and the organisation of work: manual handling of loads, forced static or dynamic postures, repetitive movements, etc. For example, constructing a brick wall is a repetitive procedure in which part of the work is carried out in awkward postures when done over shoulder height (the shoulders and elbows are the main affected body areas).

Exoskeletons are wearable machines powered by electricity or human motion, used to amplify or transform workers’ movements to improve their efficiency and productivity, and increase their safety. In recent years, they have been proposed to solve all the problems associated with WMSDs.

Lightweight, integrated body sensors in exoskeleton solutions can help construction workers in:

  • Carrying heavy material or lifting intelligently while the body sensors can warn them about straining or having harmful poses during tasks
  • Avoiding muscle-skeletal disorders due to repetitive movements

What are the benefits of the HumanTech exoskeleton?

The exoskeleton would assist wearers in their tasks by:

  • Reducing the muscular activity of the assisted areas
  • Preventing from adopting risk postures without impeding other movements involved in the tasks. In fact, the exoskeleton anticipates and adapts to the user’s needs in each task, and it gets out of the way when it is not needed.

eXtended Reality technologies

Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for various immersive technologies. These currently include Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), which are defined by the level of interaction between the virtual and real world they offer.

According to XR Today, XR blends the real and virtual landscapes “with digital overlays that interact in real-time with real-life objects. This, combined with cutting-edge hand and eye tracking, combine real-time 3D (RT3D) content with a person’s field of view (FoV).”

In recent years, this technology has seen a huge growth in adoption in more and more sectors, from medicine to training, marketing and entertainment. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to revolutionise construction by enabling better decision-making, efficient use of resources and cost savings, fostering collaboration between different teams working on a project and improving overall safety and performance in the workplace.

What are the benefits of the HumanTech XR technologies?

In HumanTech, we will use XR technology for i) Visualisation, ii) Interaction with 3D models and iii) Training of workers in safe and remote environments.

It will allow construction workers to benefit from

  • Live visualisation of BIM data over actual buildings
  • Guidance and safety alerts to avoid errors
  • Effective decision making

Through our innovative solutions, we aim to empower construction workers and engineers, enhance their skills and productivity, and drive the industry towards a safer, more sustainable future.

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