Can It Help Reinvent Masonry?
Masonry work can be repetitive, time-consuming, and physically demanding. Finding ways to increase productivity with less physical fatigue has long been a goal for the industry. In recent years, advancements in automated and robotic construction technologies have brought about improvements that allow masons to place more and heavier masonry units in less time and with fewer people.
Construction Robotics, based in Victor, NY, has created two solutions [um1] [um2] – one of which is the MULE. It stands for Material Unit Lift Enhancer and, described as a “cobotics” innovation, is more like a strong assistant that allows a mason to place CMUs more efficiently than possible without the help. The MULE ML150 is designed to place material weighing up to 150 pounds.
“Anytime you’re talking about increased production, you’re talking about cost savings,” says Michael Vaughn, brand manager of Echelon and Belgard Commercial. “When you’re able to use fewer pieces on the job due to the larger size, you decrease labor. When you look at people’s wellbeing and health, they aren’t getting as fatigued or strained, because they do not have to do as much labor with the assistance of the MULE.”
Tom Hale is the masonry product manager of County Materials in the Wausau-Stevens Point area of Wisconsin. He first heard of the MULE about four years ago, and started fielding some fact-finding requests shortly after. Hale sat down with representatives of Findorff in Madison, Wisconsin, to discuss the value of 32-inch blocks. Hale received a commitment from Findorff that they would use 12x8x32-inch blocks on two projects.