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Gold Coast workers trade up to tech-focused future

Farsight aims to help the construction industry adapt to technology which is changing the way building workers do their jobs.

THE Gold Coast tradie of the future will be a master of technology, wearing exosuits, operating drones and using virtual reality to create buildings.

That’s how the industry may evolve, according to a Construction Skills Queensland and CSIRO research project, Farsight.

Farsight aims to help the construction industry adapt to technology which is changing the way tradies and other building workers do their jobs.

CSQ director of evidence and data Robert Sobyra said the project followed discussions around how technology would change the industry.

“We looked at evolving technologies and realised many have applications in the construction industry,” Mr Sobyra said.

“The second realisation was our industry is backwards-looking and risk-averse and needs to move ahead or be left behind.”

Mr Sobyra said few tradies furthered their education once an apprenticeship was completed and needed to focus on learning new technology skills.

He said some of the technology was already being used in Australia, such as driverless bulldozers which were directed by drones flying overhead and exosuits, a wearable machine used in the shipbuilding industry for lifting heavy objects. Mr Sobyra said there were many advantages, including removing workers from potentially dangerous jobs, as well as creating better-paid jobs for workers operating the technology.

Discussions with tradies had been positive so far.

“The discussions we have had with tradies is they will jump on board if the technology will save them time, money, and if it is easy enough to pick up and start using,” he said.

Mark Deacon and Jake Robinson are directors of Varsity Lakes-based Superdraft, a design, engineering, land surveying and construction services company.

Mr Deacon said builders could use the technology to plan their projects, such as visualising the different stages of construction.

“You can scan a model as a 3D model, which the architect or builder can bring upon their smartphone or iPad,” he said.

Mr Deacon said the technology made it easier to find out exactly what customers wanted when they engaged a builder or architect.

They have designed Viz360, a virtual reality system where clients can change objects such as floors, benchtops and furniture to suit their taste.

“You can actually have the client walk through the units and change the finishes,” he said.

The lead author of the report, CSIRO’s Dr George Quezada, said the project was designed to enable the industry to start thinking about how it may change over the next 20 years.

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