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Union Associations Open to Innovation

Updated: Jan 10, 2019

Helping to close the productivity gap in construction

Advanced Construction Robotics (ACR) Co-founder and President, Stephen Muck was invited to be part of the National Association of Reinforcing Steel Contractor’s (NARSC) July meeting. The NARSC is a completely voluntary national trade association that represents reinforcing steel and post-tensioning contractors throughout the United States and Canada.

During Stephen’s time with the NARSC he demonstrated how robotic innovation and artificial intelligence not only are possible but are available now. TyBot®, ACR’s rebar tying robot, was introduced to the union ironworkers. They were provided an education of how TyBot can augment labor, reduce costs, and increase productivity.

The General President of the Ironworkers Union, Eric Dean, acknowledged that TyBot is a technology that is here to stay and they look forward to training their members to utilize the robot in performing the work that falls under their jurisdiction.

During the meeting, leaders of the Ironworkers Union discussed how they are struggling with labor shortages, specifically in tying rebar. Studies are finding that as the aging worker reaches retirement fewer young workers are joining the industry to replace these skilled individuals. The Ironworkers Union is beginning to feel this very impact of the labor shortage that has been highlighted and forecasted in recent labor studies.

In February 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported close to 200,000 construction jobs were left unfilled across the United States. According to McKinsey Global, the straggling productivity of the construction industry costs the global economy $1.6 trillion a year. One third of the opportunity to innovate and close the gap lies in North America alone.

This need for increased productivity served as one of the inspirations for the creation of ACR. The aging national infrastructure simply cannot be supported by the projected labor force available. To keep up with the demand for repair, construction must become more productive. Union efforts to embrace innovation and re-skill the workforce in new construction technology is another step to close the gap.

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