While autonomous construction equipment isn’t the norm on building sites yet, it won’t be too long before the industry adapts to incorporate automated equipment as part of its standard operations.

Just last week MPC Kinetic launched its first fully autonomous excavators in Queensland to dig pipeline trenches across the Surat Basin. As with the automation of any industry, questions are being asked about job security and worker safety.  

A New Era of Earth Moving

Queensland construction company, MPC Kinetic, in conjunction with U.S. technology startup Built Robotics, is currently trialling a fully-automated 36-tonne excavator at its Surat Basin site. While some contractors might view this news as a worrying development, MPC Kinetic business unit leader Richard Butler puts forward a convincing case for how automation can benefit the construction industry. He foresees autonomous construction equipment providing many benefits to workers, the company and its clients.

“For us, it’s not about replacing our people, it’s about freeing up our skilled workers from simple, repetitive tasks, and letting them focus on the more technical and critical duties within our operations.”

Furthermore, if you combine a global shortage of heavy equipment operators with a global pandemic, automation makes a lot of sense. 

COVID-19 and Automation

COVID-19 has changed the way almost every business operates. In Australia, travel restrictions have caused construction site activity to slow, while globally, many mines have had to close to comply with social distancing requirements and keep their workers safe. 

Some mines have already implemented partial autonomous technology and there are suggestions that the COVID-19 pandemic may speed up the automation of the industry. 

So, the short answer is that once we get through this COVID-19 pandemic, yes, many mining management teams at mining groups may look to fast track the elements of autonomous operation they were already looking at. – Paul Moore, posted on International Mining

However, a fully automated mining or construction site is not practical, nor possible at this stage, so while autonomous equipment is a valuable asset, humans are still the most important part of any project.

And that’s the way GHR Civil operates our excavation business. We put people first. Our team and our clients are the most valuable assets we have so we prioritise safety, customer satisfaction and quality outcomes.