In July 2015, ABB disclosed the case of the application of Robots in the construction field for the first time. It stated that it has successfully developed a new steel structure welding technology with MX3D and other partners, which can integrate the welding process with building materials. , No need to use other metal building materials in the construction process.
In the next few years, ABB had few new developments in the construction field, but in 2021, ABB began to reveal its “ambition” in the construction field, and successively disclosed the exploration of ABB robots in the construction field.
We sorted out its cases and found that the layout of ABB robots in the construction field revolves around three directions: the combination of 3D printing and robots, the combination of modular buildings and robots, and the replacement of high-pressure and high-risk work by humans.
The fusion of 3D printing and robotics
ABB recently disclosed a case of cooperation with French company XTreeE. XTreeE has developed an Industrial 3D printing construction technology using hardware including ABB robots, which can cover a complete solution from project digital design to actual production.
It is understood that compared with traditional concrete buildings, 3D printing buildings have higher flexibility, can change the direction of the building as the demand changes, and have better adaptability to emergencies, and the degree of tailor-made higher. Specifically, XTREEE President ALBAN MALLET expressed it as “you can print a table on the first day, a wall on the second day, and a public facility on the third day, but all 3D printed buildings in three days can be printed.” Ensure a high level of consistency”.
In addition, 3D printing architecture has a greater advantage, high strength per unit mass, using 3D printing architecture technology, less materials can obtain the same strength.
Specifically, what role do robots play in 3D printed buildings?
In 3D printing architectural technology, the first step is to digitally design the building, construct it into a three-dimensional digital model, and further determine the parts of the building that need to be 3D printed. Generally speaking, the 3D printed parts are mainly made of concrete. Completed foundations and walls etc.
Then, digitally programmed, the corresponding instructions are sent to a robot equipped with a 3D printer, and the Robot begins to construct elements on a construction site or elsewhere, such as a factory.
It is reported that robots used for 3D printing buildings have In-situ impregnation-in-situ impregnation, Co-extrusion with towpreg-tow co-extrusion, Towpregextrusion-tow wire extrusion, In-situ consolidation-in-situ merger, Inline Impregnation- Inline dipping and other discharge methods, but in general, no matter which discharge method is selected, the robot is equipped with corresponding hoses and nozzles.
The working process of the 3D printing construction robot is mainly as follows. The hose first pumps out the mixture such as mortar and concrete. After the mixture is prepared, the nozzle starts to work, stacks the mixture at the planned position, and then further stacks down to start the printing process.
In terms of final results, by using robots, 3D printed buildings can complete new design architectural elements and components that cannot be realized by conventional construction methods, and 3D printed buildings can choose different building materials according to the needs of specific scenarios, which has higher applicability .
At present, the use of robots in 3D printing buildings has become a trend and there are many landing cases. In October this year, the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University used 3D construction technology equipped with robots to build a concrete farm house in the form of a cave dwelling. In July this year, the 3D printed metal bridge using ABB robots officially landed in Amsterdam.
The Combination of Modular Construction and Robotics
In the traditional construction site, the construction must be completed on site, but there are problems such as high loss of building materials, low labor efficiency, and time constraints. In this context, pre-constructed and pre-produced modular buildings can be carried out off-site achieved rapid development.
However, even with the use of modular building methods, there are still problems in the production of building modules, such as difficult control of product yields, labor shortages, lack of talents, and high risk factors. In this case, robots are one of the best solutions.
In the specific modular building, there are several important processes, digitalize the building, construct a three-dimensional digital building, and divide it into multiple important building modules, and conduct safety tests on the modules through simulation, The modules are then sent to the prefabrication line for processing and finally transported to the site for use.
Among them, the most important application process of robots is the construction module production line. Robots are used to improve the automation level. In addition, through the combination of robot programming software and the simulation platform of module buildings, the factory layout and production lines are further optimized, thereby increasing production capacity.
Regarding the use of robots in modular construction, Oliver Lang, co-founder and CEO of Intelligent City, an off-site construction company for wooden structure modules, analyzed that robotics and sustainability are linked to a certain extent.
First, improving building quality through automation means that buildings last longer. Secondly, as far as the material itself is concerned, the extensibility and machinability of wood are very suitable for Robotic automation. Finally, the robot is more adaptable to the developed product, the system is pre-designed to handle all possible permutations.
In terms of specific cases, ABB’s public case shows that the production line provided by ABB for IntelligentCity can effectively improve production efficiency, increase project delivery speed by 38%, reduce the production cost of modular buildings by 33%, and effectively optimize the production process. It reduces the problem of substandard cutting.
Manual replacement of high-pressure and high-risk work
Another important trend in the application of ABB robots in the construction field is the replacement of high-pressure, high-risk work by humans.
ABB recently announced a pilot project for a robotic elevator installation system jointly launched with Schindler and the Zurich Institute of Technology. It is understood that when installing an elevator, a large number of anchor bolts need to be installed in the elevator shaft to accurately and safely fix the track and access door. However, as the height of the building increases, the number of anchor bolts required increases. The installation of anchor bolts in the holes is highly repetitive, labor-intensive, and there is a lot of noise and dust in the shaft. For workers, this is high-pressure and high-risk work.
Under such circumstances, improving the quality of work and improving the working conditions of elevator installers has become the top priority, and the robot elevator installation system was born from this, but there are also challenges.
First, the robot needs to drill holes at the same coordinates with millimeter-level precision, but the position of the robot in the elevator shaft is constantly changing, which means that the robot must constantly make dynamic adjustments to adapt to the drilling. Secondly, before the robot starts drilling, it needs to scan the well wall to check whether there are hidden steel bars under the well wall and whether the concrete surface is smooth. This is also a huge challenge for the robot in terms of computing power.
In the construction industry, there are countless high-intensity and high-risk jobs. If robots can replace operations in high-pressure and high-risk environments, there is undoubtedly a huge space.
In addition, the current difficulty in recruiting people in the construction industry has not been alleviated. The National Bureau of Statistics’ “2020 Migrant Workers Monitoring Survey Report” shows that the average age of migrant workers in my country in 2020 is 40.8 years old, which is 0.6 years higher than that in 2019; among them, the proportion of migrant workers over 50 years old has exceeded 24%. More and more young people are no longer willing to do heavy work on construction sites under the label of “migrant workers” like their parents, but are more willing to choose emerging industries.
Under various difficulties, the construction robot as the optimal solution has achieved rapid development. Up to now, there have been many entrants, including both old players and many new players.
Since its establishment in 2016, Dajie Robot has focused on the field of construction robots, and has continued to dig deep into the core technologies of control systems, intelligent algorithms and human-computer interaction of construction robots. In 2018, Country Garden spent 80 billion to establish Bozhilin Robotics, focusing on the R&D, manufacturing and application of construction robots. So far, Bozhilin Robotics has been put into industrial use and can replace manual work such as surveying, ground leveling, and floor grinding. In addition, Greenland Holdings also invested 300 million yuan in Deep Blue Technology, and began to explore construction robots.
Architecture is closely related to people’s lives and has a huge stock market. Under such a background, which robot company can tap new application scenarios and grasp the latest trends will be more likely to have the largest market in this field. “cake”.
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