Industrial Automation with Robots
When we picture construction sites, we often do not associate them with industrial robots. The construction industry is one of the most labor intensive and primarily relies upon manual labor. However, the industry is changing and is beginning to move towards robotic automation. Construction robots are still very new, but they are proving to be a long term solution to two of the biggest issues the industry is facing which are safety hazards and labor shortages. While the construction industry is currently one of the least automated all that is about to change.
What Robots are Automating Construction?Industrial robots along with a few other types of robots including autonomous vehicles are being used to automate construction sites. As for industrial robots there are three types that are being used, articulated, cartesian, and collaborative robots.
It is no surprise articulated robots are being used to automate construction as they are the most popular type of industrial robot. Articulated robots are those with jointed robotic arms that are attached to a rotating base. Their arms resemble the human arm in both appearance and movement making them ideal for taking over manual labor jobs. The FANUC M-710ic/50 is a multipurpose articulated robot that is capable of automating a variety of production related tasks.
Cartesian robots feature a jointed robotic arm that is similar to an articulated robot’s only instead of being attached to a base it is mounted overhead to a linear track system. Its track system features three coordinates (X, Y, and Z) that run perpendicular to one another. Cartesian robots are also called linear or gantry robots.
Collaborative robots are those built to work with and operate directly alongside humans without any barriers. The FANUC Cr-15ia is a collaborative robot with built-in sensors that allow it to sense contact for safe interactions with humans. Other safety features include a rounded exterior and the elimination of pinch points. Collaborative robots fill the gap for tasks that are too difficult for a robot or human to do on their own. Their ability to interact directly with humans allows them to assist workers helping ease the burden of worker shortages.
What Tasks are Robots Automating in the Construction Industry?Construction robots are being used to automate a variety of tasks. One of the main ones is 3D printing which has become quite popular in the industry. 3D printing technology is being used to construct homes, bridges, and large buildings. Articulated and cartesian robots have been used to automate 3D printing in construction. The Motoman MH50-20 can control a 3D printer with its robotic arm.
Demolition is another job that is being automated by construction robots. Implementing robotic automation for demolition is much safer and more affordable than using demolition crews. Industrial robots have also been used to inspect infrastructures, particularly those in dangerous locations, for a safer alternative to using human inspectors. Robots have also been implemented for masonry to construct walls and lay bricks. They have also automated steel placement, concrete reinforcement, and the construction of entire roadways.