Construction is well underway at the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center. As the building continues to grow, the construction team is getting some non-human help.

Construction Robotics’ brick-laying robot SAM100, which stands for Semi-Automatic Mason, is in Auburn placing bricks at the Performing Arts Center.

Rabren General Contractors Inc. are the contractors for the Performing Arts Center, and they have partnered with C&C Masonry, who is leasing SAM, for the project.

“For us its all about efficiency and the quality of the work,” Matt Hearn, senior project manager for Rabren General Contractors Inc. “We partner up with C&C on multiple jobs. We have a great relationship. So when C&C came to us with the idea of the robot we all sat down around a table and discussed what the benefits were.”

Hearn and his team at Rabren want to be innovative and on the forefront of technology, especially with this project.

“Being that this is the first time we’ve seen it and the first time in Alabama, for us it’s about pushing the envelope with the industry,” Hearn said. “Through our partnerships with the University, the architects and C&C on this job it’s been a great opportunity to bring this kind of technology to the state and see it in action.”

C&C Masonry is leasing SAM from Construction Robotics. C&C Masonry met with Construction Robotics at the World of Concrete, an event dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry construction industries, in Las Vegas in 2018 where they learned about SAM.

C&C Masonry decided the Performing Arts Center project would be a great first project for them to use SAM for.

“It has a software that you load the pattern in on a computer system,” said Scott Cunningham, president of C&C Masonry. “So you build the wall in your computer, transfer it to the tablet and it tells SAM where windows are, controls joints. Anything that’s in that wall, he automatically calculates it and then he’ll lay the wall as you laid it out.”

Currently, SAM can do any pattern but cannot work around corners or do large offsets in walls. That’s why the Performing Arts Center was a great fit to use SAM for, Cunningham said.

“The building lent itself to the situation with the complexity of the job and SAM has fit right in for it,” Hearn said.

This is the first time C&C Masonry has used SAM for any construction project. There are members of the C&C Masonry and Construction Robotics teams on site to assist with operating SAM.

“With the tablet, you align the laser,” said Antonio Hamilton, the superintendent onsite for C&C Masonry. “You have a laser on one end and a pole on the other end that receives the laser to make sure SAM lays the bricks in a straight line.”

The tablet allows the operator to follow SAM’s path and make sure it is laying the bricks according to the plan on the tablet. The tablet also allows the operator to black out certain bricks, such as bricks that would cover the scaffolding ties, so SAM does not lay them, Hamilton said.

SAM uses a conveyor belt and a robotic arm to place approximately 3,000 bricks per day. Once the bricks are laid, masons reload bricks and mortar into SAM and clean around the bricks SAM has already laid.

“The tablet will also give you messages if something goes wrong with SAM,” Hamilton said. “Maybe a misfeed, when too many bricks try to go down through the conveyer belt, or the mortar is too soft or hard. That tablet lets you know.”

The tablet is also connected to Construction Robotics’ office in New York. A team in New York with Construction Robotics can turn on the tablet camera to communicate with SAM’s operator if there are any problems with SAM, Hamilton said.

SAM has been on site for several weeks now and has had minimal problems that were easily resolved, Cunningham said.

C&C Masonry and Construction Robotics have worked together closely on this project to ensure everything goes smoothly.

“Construction Robotics has had a man on site with us for the last two weeks just to help us with anything that we may not know about the machine yet,” Cunningham said. “Overall, its running really well and doing as we’ve expected.”


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