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Construction sites will be largely human free by 2050, predicts Balfour Beatty

Advances in offsite and digital technology to blame for decline in human workers

Balfour Beatty predicts construction sites will be largely human-free by 2050 as advances in offsite construction and new digital technology transform the industry.

The contractor admits its vision of worker-free construction site may seem far-fetched today, but believes construction is entering a new age of technology.

A new report published by the firm: “Innovation 2050: A Digital Future for the Infrastructure industry” paints a picture in stark contrast to today with remotely managed sites using drones and a handful of key workers wearing sci-fi exoskeletons to raise performance.

In around 30 years time Balfour believes work will have moved off-site, machinery will be controlled remotely and new materials and techniques will drive cost, safety and efficiency improvements.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group chief executive, said: “We are experiencing a digital revolution, redefining how we as an industry operate; becoming faster, better and more agile.

“By adopting and embracing the rise of digital solutions we are more able to deliver efficient, effective and safer solutions to our clients and customers.

“These changes will mean we have to ensure our industry trains our current and future employees with the skills to exploit the use of new technology, new materials and new methods of working.”

He added that technology had already revolutionised contemporary life to such an extent that it was not so hard to imagine radical changes for construction not least the emergence of new roles and evolution of new skills to support delivery.