For many years construction companies in Hong Kong have been struggling to hire the number of skilled workers required to meet the level of development in the region.
Statistics published in 2015 by a Hong Kong construction company, Gammon Construction, indicated that the company needed 11 percent more workers. In specific areas of work, such as bar bending, this figure was higher, with 28 percent more workers required. Even with a considerable increase in the pay offered to these employees, with rates of HK$2,000 (NZ$360) a day, it had still been difficult to attract the requisite numbers of workers in this area.
Gammon Construction has turned to robotic support to compensate for this shortage in construction workers.
The company has purchased two ‘exoskeleton’ systems to aid its workers with a variety of jobs. These are wearable mobile machines that are powered by a system of motors, pneumatics, levers, or hydraulics to allow for limb movement, increased strength, and endurance. In particular, these machines will assist construction workers to lift heavy objects.
Gammon Construction hopes that these machines will enable its staff to work more efficiently. It is also hopeful that it will attract more women to the construction industry, helping to dispel commonly held perceptions that immense physical strength is a prerequisite for all construction jobs.
A video of an exoskeleton in action can be viewed here.