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In this article, we will be looking at whether carpenters will be needed in the future. Will they be replaced by robots? And will certain carpentry jobs be fully automated?
Obviously, as robotics, automation, and AI advance, lots of jobs will be replaced. We already see this with less skilled jobs, such as supermarket checkouts, warehouse automation, car production, and even AI that can create original written content and art. But what about skilled trades such as carpentry?
It is unlikely that carpentry will be fully replaced by robots. But there are many parts of the job that are already done by machines, and this will likely increase, especially for repetitive simple tasks.
However, skilled carpenters often need to use out of the box thinking and problem solving skills. These would be very difficult to automate. It is very common for a carpenter to adjust the way they complete tasks, based on a variety of different factors.
It is far more likely, that the use of automation and more advanced tools, will aid skilled carpenters in their job.
How carpentry has advanced in the past 100 years
Carpentry has changed significantly over the last century. We can see huge advancements in the tools and technology that is used. As well as the materials that are available to carpenters.
In the early 1900’s carpenters relied entirely on hand tools and manual labour. They had no power tools, such as chop saws, cordless drills, jigsaws, and nail guns. They certainly didn’t have workshop machines, such as industrial sanders, planers and even machines that can assemble components.
Everything they did was by hand. You could argue that the skill and craftsmanship back then was superior to that of modern carpenters. However, the speed and precision of work with modern power tools is undeniable.
Materials are also higher quality and more varied in modern construction. Timber is produced, graded, and treated, to ensure a high quality, and uniform product. We also have engineered woods, better adhesives, and superior fixings.
As you can see, things are very different these days, but this has not affected the work that is available for carpenters. In fact there is probably more work now than ever. The main difference, is the skills have changed.
A modern carpenter needs to be knowledgeable with hand tools, power tools, and a variety of different materials.
Future advancements, will just add to the skills a carpenter needs to carry out their job.
What carpentry jobs could and couldn’t be automated
It is likely that robots and automation, will continue to help with repeatable, less skilled jobs. This could involve measuring, marking, cutting, levelling, etc.
They may be able to install prefabricated structures and finished products such as cabinets, countertops, and flooring, reducing the need for manual labour.
They could also be useful for lifting, carrying, and moving heavy objects. This would create a safer working environment, reducing onsite injuries from handling and carrying.
Areas where robots or automation may struggle, include things like:
- Designing custom projects and one-off pieces, that require a level of creativity, nuance, experience, and skill. This would be very difficult to automate.
- Collaborating and communicating with clients, employers, and other trades who need or want things done in a certain way.
- Working in a variety of different environments and terrains. Not only could this be difficult to access for someone other than a human, but different environments may also add nuance to the way jobs are carried out.
- It is very likely, there will always be a large number of jobs, where creativity, problem solving and attention to detail are needed. These are areas where it would be very difficult to replace human carpenters.
A much more likely future, is one where robots, advanced tools, and automation, are used to assist carpenters in the work they do. This means, that just like the last century, carpentry is likely to evolve as the technology advances.
No one can be sure what the future of certain jobs will be. However, it is likely that less skilled jobs will be replaced in part by automation and other forms of advanced technology. However, it is very unlikely that carpenters will be replaced by robots.
Instead, it is more likely, that these advancements will make their jobs easier, just like the massive advancements that came before them, over the last 100+ years.