An article in a recent issue of Plumbing Perspective talked about the impact 3D printers could have on the construction industry. Most of the opportunities mentioned related to large-scale construction — building the shell of a house, store, apartment, etc., in a single day without an on-site workforce. Imagine that? Robot sprayers guided by 3D “printing” instructions. Overtime pay…forget about it
But what does that mean for you and your business? If you’re a residential contractor or commercial/residential subcontractor, probably not much…now. But soon. Because, as the article points out, one of the big questions for the building trades will be how functional components like plumbing, heating, HVAC, and electrical systems will be integrated into the 3D printing ecosystem.
So, where are the people?
Not on your payroll…
…For HVAC folks, the article posits that a robot sprayer would create the housing for the HVAC systems that would then be installed by real people in the trades. For plumbers, it is possible that the 3D Contour Crafting process could build utility conduits inside the walls making plumbing automation a reality. Hmmmm. 3D printing could develop a modular approach to automate communication line wiring that could be robotically fed and connected. But let’s not stop there. Sensors and other devices can be implanted into 3D printed walls. Insulation and finish work (get ready plastering professionals) could be executed through specially-designed Contour Crafting nozzles. A painting mechanism would “paint” each wall like an inkjet printer, printing wall paper or other patterns directly onto the target surface. Even tiling could be automated.
3D construction printers cannot run a business
Cheap robotics or low-cost 3D construction printing are meaningless to a business managed on Excel spreadsheets. Firing people and hiring robots alone will not make you profitable. You still have to cost jobs, allocate resources, track purchasing and…bill in a timely manner.
Make sure you have the right technology
As the contracting business evolves in all sectors, those who survive and thrive are contractors who pay attention to running their businesses…who monitor jobs and profitability…who keep the lines of communication open between their GCs, subs, and clients. (No matter how many robots you hire, you’ll still need people…for now!)
You still need to have the processes and procedures in place to run your business. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask me about how we’ve helped other contractors like you get a handle on their business. Or…you could keep running your business on Excel spreadsheets.
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