Construction automation helps in quality control and reduces construction time. Various applications and advantages of automation in construction is discussed.
Need of Construction Automation and its Benefits
The scope of construction automation is wide and involves the entire construction stages for instance production of construction material, prefabrication of construction components, on site construction, operation and maintenance of buildings, and demolition and recycling of structures.
Automation of construction addresses various and serious issues related to construction for example, low quality of final product, shortages of skilled labor, safety of labor, poor weather condition, and short construction period which nowadays are features of project.
If automation construction is practiced, construction work will be continuous and consequently construction period will decrease and this will provide large economic advantages. Additionally, construction automation improves safety of labors and enhances quality of the work.
In this article the advantages and application of construction automation and robotics will be discussed.
Fig.1: Construction Automation Using Robots
Fig.2: Construction Automation
Advantages of Automation in Construction Industry
- Automation and robotics in construction provides more precise and uniform quality product compare with products produced by experienced worker.
- It replaces labors in those tasks which involve difficult physical work.
- Automation and robotics carry out jobs much easier which is hardly done by labors.
- It simultaneously declines costs and increases efficiency and productivity. Added to that, it is claimed that counties such as Japan and Germany have improved living standard and gross income substantially in twentieth century as a result of employing automation and robotics in the construction.
- It conducts labor tasks at dangerous locations for example at substantial height places.
- Finally, it is worth mentioning that automated construction and robotics enhance work environment because workers will be distanced from uncomfortable work position.
Applications of Automated Construction and Robotics
- Automation and robotics in construction sector and precast concrete industry
- Automation and robotics in prefabrication of masonry and on site masonry construction
- Automation and robotics in timber construction
- Automation and robotics in the production of steel components
Automation and Robotics in Construction Sector and Precast Concrete Industry
It has been long time since almost 100% automation is achieved and applied in the construction material production for instance cement, steel, glass, aluminum, and wood. Approximately partial automation robotics is used in road construction, tunneling, and earthworks.
Regarding concrete precast component production, large degree of automation is utilized and necessary number of precast components can be produced as per buyer’s demand.
The automation of precast components is very beneficial because it provides products which its quality is not changing and waste of the factory is declined.
This decrease of factory waste is made possible because of using required amount of materials which is arranged with the help of computer planning and programming.
Stationary mixer plants are not an exception and substantial degree of automation and robotics are employed for quite long time.
As far as on site construction automation and robotics is concern, there are several apparatuses which has been used for different purposes on project site for example concrete screeding (Figure-3), finishing (Figure-4), scrubbing, and cleaning.
Fig.3: Automatic Concrete Screeding Machine
Fig.4: Concrete Surface Finishing Robot
Moreover, there is partially automated overhead construction factory system that was developed by Obayashi Corp. used for the construction of high rise reinforced concrete frame as shown in Figure-5 and Figure-6.
Finally, as it can be seen from the figures, the machine covers the entire structure and its cranes are partially automated, prefabricate parts of concrete panels, material storage management and providing materials on construction site are computerized, and finally the erection of the structure is partially automated.
Fig.5: Automation in High Rise Building Construction
Fig.6: High Rise Building Construction Automation
Automation and Robotics in Prefabrication of Masonry and On-Site Masonry Construction
Automation and robotics in masonry prefabrication play significant role and has considerable advantages because not only it substantially raise the production of masonry blocks but also it decrease manpower and labor cost. Plants that produced masonry elements may be completely automatic or partially automated and individually designed masonry blocks can be prefabricated.
Prefabricating masonry blocks and bricks is not free from obstacles and difficulty for example installing such automatic plant need huge amount of money which can become considerable obstacle.
Apart from automated masonry element, automation and robotics are also used to lay bricks such as shown Figure-9 which can lay up to 1000 bricks in an hour.
Fig.7: Partially Automated Masonry Element Prefabrication
Fig.8: Automated Manufacture of Brick Wall Masonry Blocks
Fig.9: Automated Brick Masonry Laying Robot
Automation and Robotics in Timber Construction
Wood prefabrication automation and robotic have progressed to some extent specifically in Germany. Wood processing has shifted from manually processing to complete processing utilizing compute numerical controlling machines.
There are automated plants which produced prefabricated house components and very limited hand work is involved. Figure-10 shows an automated machine that employed for fabrication of framing. And multifunctional robotic wooden wall unit are shown in Figure-11.
Fig.10: Automated Machine for Fabrication of Wood Frames
Fig.11: Multifunctional Robotic Wooden Wall Unit
Automation and Robotics in Production of Steel Components
Automation and robotic have been used to a great extent by steel companies which prefabricate building components according to contractor demand. The steel components will be transferred to project site for erection. It should be said that automation and robotics are not used in erection process to a great extent; manual welding screwing is used during construction.
Utilization of steel in the house construction is very low but there are factories which prefabricate components of houses using automation and robotics as shown in Figure-12.
It is reported that such facility produces five to ten thousand houses per year and it produces 120m2 in just two and half minute, and the house can be erected in four hours.
Lastly, Figure-13 show a transformable automated welding robot in an integrated automated building construction which led to decrease work force up to approximately seventy percent.
Fig.12: Automated and Robotic Steel Panel Production Facility
Fig.13: Transformable Welding Robot in an Integrated Automated Building Construction Site