Chonday | May 28, 2016

Video Treats // Concrete & Masonry, Siding & Exterior Trim

Robotic Bricklayer


Never needs to check its iPhone

If there are too many unemployed people, while simultaneously too few construction workers, will robots be welcomed on the jobsite?

"Construction Robotics was founded in 2007 with the goal of bringing robotics and automation to onsite construction."


The main obstacles that needed to be overcome:

  1. Placing mortar
  2. Placing a brick


The solutions:

  1. Apply mortar to the brick then set it on the wall rather than apply mortar to wall and then set brick on top of it.
  2. Lasers with movement sensors 

It takes about an hour to set up the tracks and SAM (Semi Automated Mason) is off and running—so to speak. Feed the critical measurements to SAM: wall heights, window locations and sizes, and SAM lays brick all day as long as you feed him brick, SAM puts it on the wall. He never needs a lunch break.


Disruption alert:

In this construction model, the humans do the low-skilled work—carrying bricks and mixing mortar. This is great if you sign the front of the paycheck, and it is a big fat problem if you sign the back. 

Did you hear what we just said there?

If you are relying on your muscles rather than your mind to advance your construction career, it is time to re-think your career strategy. It will not be long before a robotic tender eliminates the need for someone to carry bricks and mix mortar. 

If robots can work on jobsites to build homes, think about how these little dandies will fit into modular home construction. 



Bottom Line:

Artificial intelligence is still way behind actual intelligence. The more you know, the more you make. 

Know more. 



Does your robot have the ability to turn corners?

Just wondering who programs our mechanical friend to deal with three window heads no two at the same elevation. 

What does our mechanical friend do when the backup is out of plumb?

Who screws in his wall ties? Who sets his wall ties?

Does our mechanical man strike joints? Does he recognize when the mortar is too soft, too stiff?

Builders have been engaged for a thousand years trying to create a system better than masonry. I wish our mechanical friend's inventors the same timeline.

i have to say this will never work to be cost effective. i noticed how many guys were needed to  work this machine . give me a human any day  laying bricks ,  how much does this unit cost by the way ?  how much to repair it ? how much to run the programs? what happens when it makes a mistake  does it keep going ?  you need a person to point n help it along  . why not just have that guy lay the bricks ? i am going to wait for the carpenter robot to take my job .. 

This is needed excess. There are few enough jobs as it is. 

Daniel Morrison's picture

Many of the the questions are answered in the video: window elevations are programmed in to the machine, and measurements are verified by lasers. Mortar is mixed by a person, and joints are tooled by a person. 

CNC machining has completely changed manufacturing—in ways my machinist grandfather could not have fathomed. But they did change it, and his machine shop is a relic of early 20th century technology. 

And it wasn't just turning plate steel into machine parts, CNC has cut into carpentry, too. The day I realized—standing in my woodshop 15 years ago—that I could order dovetail drawers far cheaper than I could build them, and of superior quality, it was a paradigm shifting day for me. I could deliver a better product to my customers, faster and cheaper that I could build in my shop. 

One of the topics most urgent in the building industry for the past five or so years— since the recession ended and building industry began the rebound—has been the labor shortage. We devoted a whole issue of Builder magazine to it in 2013 when I was working there, and it is still at the top of the list of topics talked about by builders and remodelers, and it is still a key topic covered in the construction press in 2016.

We (ProTradeCraft) are in no way advocating robotic construction processes, but we think it is important that you see solutions to labor shortages, or, if you don't see this as a solution, to see what is coming down the pike so you can adjust your businesses/career strategy. 

What strikes me about this is that the robot does the skilled work, the humans do the unskilled work of mixing mortar and loading bricks. 

It is only a matter of time before mixing mortar and hauling bricks is automated. 

Combined with 3-D printing technology, construction is facing SERIOUS disruption. As with all disruption, some will embrace it, some will dig in their heels. Some will prosper, some will go out of business. 

A couple of decades ago, no one would have imagined that automobiles would be built entirely—or nearly so—by robots.

We want to deliver the information to our readers so that they can make informed choices about their future. 

Robots can also turn a baseball box score into two newspaper articles: one for the home team newspaper, one for the visiting team. This has drastically changed how editors and reporters do their jobs. 

It seems this topic has struck a nerve, so we will continue to follow it. 


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