Posts filed under: News

Hyundai’s Boston Dynamics Acquisition Caps a Break Out Year for Construction Robots

2020 has turned out to be a breakout year for construction robots. From early pioneers like Construction Robotics and Branch Technologies that presented at our Summit in 2016, the industry has seen an explosion of emerging solutions across a broad spectrum of arenas, including 3D printing on and off site, autonomous inspection (such as Boston Dynamics Spot Robot), and also specialty construction applications. News of Hyunadai Motor Group’s intent to acquire a controlling interest in Boston Scientific, valuing Boston Scientific at $1.1 Billion, as part of Hyaundai’s “Smart Mobility” strategy offers some of the strongest validation of the maturation of the construction robotics sector yet.


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Construction Robotics is Increasing Safety and Productivity on Job Sites

Construction Robotics is changing the way construction is done. It has always been inevitable that robotics technology would enter into dangerous industries to increase safety and productivity, but many people still view it as a futuristic phenomenon. Grit Daily caught up with Scott Peters, President and co-founder of Construction Robotics to talk about SAM and MULE, their construction assistive devices that have already changed expectations within the industry.

Their Semi-Automated Mason (SAM), a brick-laying machine, is the first piece of robotic equipment used on commercial job sites to be operated by masons. MULE, short for Material Unit Life Enhancer, can make blocks weighing up to 150 pounds feel weightless. Both pieces of technology can work off of scaffold, require some training and were created with the end users in mind.

Construction Robotics created the mapping software for SAM from scratch. “We had to make it very easy to use, very intuitive,” because many masons had been working off of paper. The software allows a mason to create a wall in a matter of minutes by simply inputting the dimensions, where windows will be placed, etc. Training for SAM takes about 3 days, while MULE can be learned in a matter of minutes. Peters explains, “We have a robust implementation process because that’s one of the keys to success, and a big part of implementation may be thinking about your job differently.”

When asked about pushback from the construction workers themselves, Peters explained that there was some fear among workers that a Terminator-like robot would walk off the truck and make their skills obsolete. On the contrary, Peters believes that these types of technologies can diversify the industry by allowing more women to participate and “take the back-breaking work out of construction.”

The lift-enhancing MULE is already starting to change the industry by creating demand for double-sized blocks.


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Naval Station Great Lakes’ New Barracks Foundation and Facade Take Shape With Some Robotic Help

Words: Dave Jackson, Senior Brand Manager, Masonry & Dry Mix at Oldcastle APG, a CRH Company
Photos: Construction Robotics

Editor’s Note: MCAA members Jimmy’Z Masonry, Oldcastle, and Construction Robotics work together to successfully construct the new barracks foundation at the Great Lakes Naval Station. Read on to discover how the MULE was used throughout the project along with all the hard work of the mason contractors and masonry products. Thank you to all three members for providing us with this interesting story.

“I always knew I would go into the business,” recalled Zack Zuidemas, Vice-President and estimator for Jimmy’Z Masonry, located in Crystal Lake, IL about 50 miles north of Chicago. Founded by his father James in the early 1990s, the company has continued to expand into one of the area’s most highly regarded masonry contractors.

While majoring in Business Management at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Zack honed his skills by laboring on job sites during summer breaks and learning the project management side of the business during winter breaks. Over the years, the father/son duo have acquired a reputation for integrity, craftsmanship, and a forward-thinking approach to the masonry industry.


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Man Plus Machine Makes Heavy Work Easy

Placing concrete masonry units is back-breaking work—that is unless the mason has a MULE to help. The MULE (material unit lift enhancer), from Construction Robotics, is a “cobotics” device, not a true autonomous robot but rather a very strong assistant that allows a mason to effortlessly place CMUs faster than is possible by hand. Mounted to the work platform, the MULE is guided by the mason to clamp onto, lift, and position blocks or precast pieces.

This device is beginning to gain a following in the masonry world. At a recent roundtable organized by the MULE’s manufacturer Construction Robotics, leaders from four general contractors discussed how they and their mason contractors are using the MULE and its effect on their operations.

The benefits such a device offer are clear: reducing the stress on the masons and allowing them to place more and heavier blocks in less time and with fewer people. Especially in the time of COVID-19, keeping workers farther apart is essential and the MULE contributes to that.

Tim Johnson, who leads Skanska’s operations in Portland, Oregon, noted that he is always looking for innovative ideas and the MULE has “allowed us to be more productive and safer. Without the MULE, it takes two guys to lift the large 32-inch blocks we are placing today.”


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JLG, Construction Robotics Innovate for Job Site of the Future

Construction Robotics launched its new MZ100, co-developed with JLG, the latest addition to the Mule product line. This product, which is a smaller, lighter-weight version of the original Mule, is self-leveling, powered by a Lithium-Ion battery, and can be directly coupled to JLG and SkyTrak telehandlers, moving it from a static-based job site solution to a mobile one.

JLG Industries Inc. is working with Construction Robotics of Victor, N.Y., to develop alternative solutions to cumbersome, repetitive construction tasks that oftentimes result in cumulative injury.

Construction Robotics specializes in the advancement of robotic and autonomous technologies in the heavy-equipment sector. As an access industry leader, JLG specializes in providing people with a safer way to work at height.

“JLG and Construction Robotics are taking the strengths of each individual company to collaborate on progressive robotic solutions that will advance safety and productivity on tomorrow’s job sites,” said Frank Nerenhausen, president, JLG Industries. “We are innovating for the greater good of the industries we serve.”

Construction Robotics is an established developer of masonry machines such as the material unit lift enhancer (MULE), used to lift and place a concrete block, and the semi-automated mason (SAM), used to lay brick. Both products assist employees on worksites to minimize fatigue and improve productivity.


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JLG and Construction Robotics Innovate for Job Site of the Future

JLG Industries, Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation company [NYSE:OSK] and leading global manufacturer of mobile elevating work platforms and telehandlers is working with Construction Robotics of Victor, NY to develop alternative solutions to cumbersome, repetitive construction tasks that oftentimes result in cumulative injury.

Construction Robotics specializes in the advancement of robotic and autonomous technologies in the heavy-equipment sector. As the access industry leader, JLG specializes in providing people with a safer way to work at height.


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How Robots Are Changing the Construction Industry | Fortune

Along the banks of Lake Michigan, 20 masons lay bricks for a huge dorm, as big as three football fields, at the Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. Compared with those in years past, these workers are doing far less laying and “buttering” and, instead, are focused on quality and on cleaning up mortar joints.

A robot named SAM handles the real grunt work.

SAM, a clawlike metal arm extending from a cage, moves back and forth along the walls, buttering and layering a brick every eight to 12 seconds. Nearby, another robot called MULE uses a burly 12-foot arm to lift heavy cement blocks for workers, who then guide them into place.

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Robotics in Construction: Automating Onsite Construction With CR

There are many companies pushing the limits of the possibility of robotics in construction. One such company is Construction Robotics. Construction Robotics (CR) was founded in 2007 with the goal of developing affordable, leading-edge robotics and automation equipment for the construction industry. Construction Robotics’ first and flagship product is SAM100 (Semi-Autonomous Mason), a bricklaying robot for onsite and prefabricated masonry construction. SAM is designed to work with a mason, assisting with the repetitive and strenuous task of lifting and placing each brick. The mason continues to own the site setup and final wall quality, but with improved efficiency through the operation of SAM.

SAM can be thought of as a mobile prefabrication lab for brickwork. Builders can use SAM to build walls offsite or bring SAM on-site to get prefab quality while reducing shipping costs.

SAM in conjunction with CR’s 3D brick mapping software streamlines the building process from digital design to fabrication. The software automatically corrects for any variation in the as-built dimensions, allowing masons to resolve problems before beginning production. Complex and custom patterns can easily be executed by SAM.

SAM is constantly capturing and uploading a variety of data points, including the number, size, and placement of each brick, the date, time, and temperature, the mortar slump, bed gap, ambient RH, and more. CR’s software provides a real-time feed that allows for the monitoring of daily progress from anywhere and at any time, with detailed analytics displaying SAM’s performance.


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Robot Masons Work With Humans on a $52 Million Housing Project in Illinois | bdcnetwork

A 166,000-sf barracks with 300 bedrooms for 600 military personnel are under construction at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois with the help of robots that can lay bricks every seven to 10 seconds and can lift and place foundation blocks weighing up to 135 lbs.

This $52 million project, started last March and scheduled for completion in October 2020, represents the debut of semi-robotic construction for the general contractor Clark Construction Group. Construction Robotics, a Victor, N.Y.-based manufacturer that launched in 2007, is providing the machines, which are called MULE (for Material Unit Lift Enhancer) and SAM (for Semiautomated Mason). Blinderman Construction is Clark’s partner on this project.

This is also the first construction project in the country to use MULE and SAM technology in tandem.


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Detroit Students get a Hands-on Look at Skilled Trades

Detroit — Wearing safety glasses and ear muffles, Fantasia Jackson carefully held a nail gun and fired it into a large wood board during a demonstration Tuesday at the Sachse Construction Academy in Eastern Market.

As her fellow classmates from Northwestern High School took turns working with the nail gun some appeared more natural at it than others.

“You’ve got to push hard on it,” said Jackson, a 14-year-old sophomore.

More than 500 Detroit-area high school students gathered in Shed 3 in Eastern Market to participate in hands-on demonstrations with 35 skilled contractors Tuesday during the construction academy, which is in its fourth year. The contractors included construction trades involving masonry, tiling, and roofing.

For the first time this year, the event includes a skilled trades job fair for 18-to-25-year-olds.

The skilled trades industry faces a shortage of workers both nationally and locally as older workers retire. Events like the construction academy are designed to help spark interest in young people looking for a career, said Todd Sachse, CEO of Sachse Construction.

“Our industry needs skilled trades,” he said. “There’s just not enough. We can’t get our work done fast enough with enough skill as we need to be able to do. Selfishly, I want to encourage people. Selflessly, we believe that there’s a lot of opportunity for Detroit young men and women.

“College is not for everybody,” Sachse said. “Just because somebody doesn’t go to college doesn’t mean they can’t have a successful, vibrant, engaging career. The average electrician, the average plumber, the average carpenter makes more money than the average architect, so it is an incredible career and I think a lot of young men and women don’t realize that. Part of it is to expose them to that opportunity.”


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