To meet growing construction demand, high-tech plants are opening, and older factories that were shuttered after the last decade’s real estate crash — many in areas such as rural Pennsylvania, where labor costs are cheap — are being revived.
The future of U.S. homebuilding depends on more people like Cyndicy Yarborough, a 26-year-old former Wal-Mart clerk with no background in construction.
At Blueprint Robotics in Baltimore, she works in a factory that builds houses like cars, on an assembly line, using robots that fire thousands of nails into studs each day and never miss. Yarborough operates a machine that lifts floors and walls and packs them onto a flatbed truck, the final step before delivery to a development site where they’ll be pieced together.
“I like being a part of something new, on the cutting edge,” said Yarborough, a single mother who took the job at Blueprint last May.
For all the concern over automation removing jobs from the workforce, companies like Blueprint are actually helping to ease a labor shortage that has crimped construction of residences and commercial properties across the country. The plants enable developers to fill the gap by having houses and apartment buildings manufactured off-site, for less money and in a fraction of the time. Even Marriott International Inc., the world’s biggest hotel operator, is increasingly turning to modular construction for some of its properties.
Read full article in IndustryWeek.com here.