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.”