Robotic construction equipment popular in Manitoba, but human operators still needed

A construction sign.fd. Shane Gibson/Global News

Winnipeg may be jokingly known for its endless ‘construction season’, but the city is actually ahead of the curve when it comes to new construction technology – specifically, robotic equipment.

Construction companies are starting to get more efficient with their projects by using automated equipment.

Greg McKee of SMS Equipment, who sells automated construction equipment, said despite some struggles in the industry, Winnipeg remains ahead of a number of other Canadian cities in this field.

READ MORE: Winnipeg has more than 150 unfinished construction projects into September

“The level of interest in this automated product in Manitoba is significant,” he told 680 CJOB, “Probably more so than our other western Canadian provinces.

“With automation, you can definitely save manpower on a large project… you can almost eliminate a full step in the construction process.”

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A bulldozer with automated controls is one of the most popular pieces of equipment, said McGee. It involves turning a labour-intensive process to simply uploading a design into a computer that uploads into the bulldozer, saving material, manpower, and money.

McKee says that although robotic equipment can make the job easier, he doesn’t see a day anytime soon when the machines won’t still need humans at the helm.

“It doesn’t matter what we’ve got today in the marketplace. You still need a person in the seat,” he said.

“The way I see it, somebody’s always going to be running the machine in the construction industry.”

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