John Sisk & Son claims to have become the first contractor in Europe to introduce robotics to construction projects after investing €150,000 (£136,000) in a new type of lifting robot – but has insisted that it won’t replace human workers.
The robot, known as a Material Unit Lift Enhancer (“MULE”), was developed by the New York-based company Construction Robotics. It is now operational at Sisk’s residential Wembley Park E05 site in London.
A trained construction worker can manually handle the blocks into place using the MULE’s specially designed gripper, also created by Construction Robotics. The lift assist device can handle material weighing up to 61kg, reducing fatigue and injuries among workers.
Sisk also claimed that it increases productivity by between 50-400%. But it added that the robot would not replace bricklayers or masons, instead improving their working conditions and enabling them to focus on other aspects such as the pointing of brickwork.
Meanwhile, Sisk has partnered with building materials firm Tarmac to develop special oversize blocks, which are 890mm long – twice as large as a standard 100mm thick concrete block. The new larger, heavier block can be safely manoeuvred into place thanks to the lifting capacity of the MULE and Sisk claimed it has a significant effect on increasing build productivity and efficiency.