PETALING JAYA — Given recent advancements in technology, the use of robots to build houses at construction sites is no longer science fiction. Property developers around the globe are investing heavily in robotics technology for the construction industry.
One developer which has recently ventured into the robotics industry is China’s real estate giant Country Garden Holdings.
In September this year, Country Garden’s unit Guangdong Bright Dream Robotics Co Ltd partnered with the Shunde government to launch the 10 sq km Robot Valley project in the Shunde district, where Country Garden’s headquarters are located.
The group will be investing RMB80 billion or close to RM48 billion in the robotics business, over the next five years, specifically in the F&B, construction and agriculture industry, said Country Garden Malaysia and Forest City director of strategy Ng Zhu Hann.
He said that Country Garden’s venture into the robotics industry is in line with Country Garden
Malaysia’s efforts to automate the construction process with the use of the Industrialised Building System (IBS).
The first IBS factory in Forest City in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor spans 18 acres, making it the biggest fully-automated IBS plant in Malaysia, with an annual production capacity of 1 million sq m in built area.
“The group is more than a property developer and real estate player. It is a diversified conglomerate with businesses spanning across hospitality, education, modern agriculture, manufacturing and robotics.
“As part of the future expansion strategy of the group, robotics is of the utmost importance due to the rise of Industry 4.0 and automation technology. We believe in the potential of this sector and Southeast Asia as a huge emerging growth market,” he said.
The first few sub-sectors where Country Garden has kicked off its robotics business is in the restaurant, construction and medical sectors. It also plans to invest in labour-intensive industries such as agriculture robotics.
Country Garden plans to open a robot restaurant at its headquarters in Guangzhou by end-2018. With a built-up of about 800 to 1,000 sq m, the restaurant is expected to have a capacity of 150 to 200 guests.
Currently, the research and development team for the robotics business is working on establishing the first phase of its research facility which spans 2.72 acres and has more than 200 lab-models. Going forward, there are plans to build an experimental smart unmanned manufacturing line, said Ng.
“Due to the variety of operations technology and the various manpower, technology and time needed for the research on construction robots, the adoption of these robots is still under assessment, but it is estimated to be deployed in stages from the end of this year,” he added.