We are familiar with the concept of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) as applied to robotics, often in a “coming in the future” format. But the future is coming sooner than expected if companies like Volvo have a say. And an enabler will be the growth of 5G communications.
The Volvo Construction Equipment division has demonstrated a fully autonomous, battery-electric prototype, the LX03, of what they claim is the first real-world example of a self-learning concept wheel loader with the brains to make decisions, perform tasks, and interact with humans. It is also the first time ever a LEGO Technic model has been turned into a real machine. While not commercially available, engineers expect that valuable insights from the LX03 will feed into applications for today and tomorrow.
Construction relies on fleets of trucks, heavy equipment, and other portable and mobile gear. Maintenance and repair of that equipment, and training of the personnel using it, can represent a large investment in time and funds for the company. More technology applications are focused on giving the company a way to manage and track mobile assets and the market for those fleet-oriented systems is growing.
C.J. Driscoll & Associates, a telematics market research and consulting service, has released its 2021-22 U.S. Mobile Resource Management Systems Market Study. This comprehensive study found that approximately 18.0 million GPS/wireless devices are used today to manage fleet vehicles, trailers, construction equipment, and field service workers. By 2024, the market will expand to more than 25 million units and revenues will grow to an estimated $8 billion.
Although the slogan “Nothing runs like a Deere” has been around since 1971, the fact is even Deere gear needs professional care and attention at times. Dealers across the country have the skills and equipment to maintain and repair Deere construction and farm implements and the ability to train users in keeping their Deere running. Now they also have a way to connect that equipment to the dealers.
John Deere is offering SmartGrade Remote Support on its newest SmartGrade dozers, motor graders, excavators, and compact track loaders. SmartGrade Remote Support, which includes both RDA (Remote Display Access) and WDT (Wireless Data Transfer), will be available on most SmartGrade products for six years from the factory invoice date.
Operators of construction equipment are required to know and understand the needs of the jobsite as well as the operation of the equipment. Skilled operators, especially since the pandemic, are becoming hard to find. Adding technology to the equipment can, in some cases, allow apprentice and novice operators to become proficient quicker and help solve the labor shortage.
Robots are not taking over the world. But robots can be a great aid to workers doing dangerous, labor-intensive, and tedious jobs. In mining and on the docks, while drivers work in shifts, trucks operate 24/7, stopping only for refueling as needed. And replacing a human with a robotic refueling system both speeds up the process and relieves employees of the dangerous job of “handling the hose.”
A study by Global Industry Analysts, Robotic Refueling Systems - Global Market Trajectory & Analytics, shows both the opportunities and challenges for robotic refueling in a significantly transformed post COVID-19 marketplace. During the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for robotic refueling systems reached an estimated $36.2 million (in 2020) and is projected to reach $338.8 million by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 44.4%.
They are common in factories, warehouses, lumber yards, and on construction sites. They buzz or growl or smell like a kitchen gas stove. They are lifting loads and placing material workers shouldn’t try to do manually. They are forklift trucks and they are invaluable in today’s construction market.
While working with large, heavy equipment and material on a construction job, a forklift can act as the weight-carrier, providing safety and preventing employee injuries. Counterbalance forklift trucks are projected to hold a significant share of the market due to their ability to handle heavier loads than warehouse types. One result is the global forklift trucks market is predicted to surge ahead at a CAGR of 7.4% over the forecast period of 2021-2031, as per latest study estimates by Persistence Market Research.