It should not be surprising that as technology evolves, so does the way that these innovations are implemented in everyday business. The construction industry tends to exemplify this notion, as new equipment that increases efficiency at the worksite is utilized and embraced. Construction giant, Komatsu, announced this month that it plans to release a series of drones that will be capable of providing the heavy lifting of the foundation work in new construction, deeming the process: “Smart Construction.” This includes equipment such as “aircraft, bulldozers, and excavators” operating unmanned, all of which could, drastically, change the landscape of construction contracting.
While these technologies, undoubtedly, provide an opportunity to make work sites safer, there are inherent risks that property owners may face (and not just of the Terminator variety). For one, property owners or construction managers will need to verify that any contractor using this sort of equipment has the credentials and references to prove they are fully competent in operation.
In addition to reviewing the contractor’s portfolio, the property owner will need to ensure sufficient indemnification from liabilities that may arise from the contractor’s use of the equipment. This indemnification should provide an adequate level of protection to the owner.
Additionally, the property owner should contractually obligate the contractor to maintain minimum levels of insurance to provide coverage for any bodily injury or property damage arising from the contractors’ work at the site. It would be wise to confirm that the drone machinery is insured against physical damage and that any delays in construction as a result of a breakdown of the equipment are also insured.
Today’s world of robotics is exciting and could, in turn, revolutionize the construction industry. The potential savings in labor costs and error avoidance could alter construction budgeting going forward and “Smart Construction” contractors could be in heavy demand. It is up to the property owners to make sure that any risks involved in the early use of the machinery are properly transferred to the contractor so that they may sleep soundly knowing the drones are insured.
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