How robots are used in concrete construction

July 3, 2024
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Concrete robots: The building blocks for next-gen construction sites

Concrete, the literal foundation of modern infrastructure, is undergoing a major technological shift. 

Robots are stepping onto construction sites, not as sci-fi novelties, but as practical tools that raise the bar on efficiency, safety, and the very possibilities of concrete design.

Types of concrete robots making an impact

There are many types of robots currently making (concrete waves): 

From the printing press to robo-printers

3D printing with concrete is no longer a futuristic concept. It's happening now, constructing structures (like houses and bridges), and even artistic installations. 

Robots precisely deposit concrete according to digital designs, which cuts down waste and enables more intricate geometries. 

This technology is poised to make big changes to the availability of affordable housing, disaster relief shelters, and custom architectural projects. But it’s still got a long way to go. 

Rebar tying: A task made in robot heaven

Rebar tying is essential for reinforced concrete's strength, but it's backbreaking work. 

Robotic arms with specialized end-effectors zip through rebar grids, tying them securely and consistently. This not only helps builders press the gas pedal when it comes to construction timelines but also reduces the risk of injuries associated with manual tying.

Concrete pouring and finishing with a robo-touch

Achieving the perfect concrete finish is an art (a frustrating one, to boot), but robots are getting good at it. 

They follow programmed paths to pour concrete evenly, then use trowels or floats to create the desired texture. This consistency improves the final product's quality and durability.

Demolition: A safer, cleaner way to blow things up

We’re going to go out on a limb: dismantling concrete structures can be dangerous. 

Robots equipped with hydraulic breakers and crushers make it far safer. They can work in confined spaces, reach heights, and minimize dust and debris, which reduces the overall environmental impact of demolition.

But, robots aren’t the primary demolition method yet, traditional demolition methods are still more prevalent due to cost and accessibility factors.

Inspection and quality control: A robot's eye view

Few things are as important in construction as ensuring maximum concrete quality.

Robots with high-resolution cameras and sensors can peep into cracks, voids, and other flaws that the naked eye just can’t see. This early detection prevents structural issues and costly repairs down the line.

Of course, not all robots have these high-tech cameras, so you need to pick one that suits your application!

Why you should get a concrete robot for your site

There are a lot of advantages to using concrete robots: 

  • Way more efficient: Concrete robots finish tasks faster and with fewer errors than humans, speeding up construction projects. Plus, they can run (nearly) 24/7, except for scheduled maintenance breaks and other stoppages. 
  • They’re safer too: Robots take on dangerous jobs, reducing the risk of accidents and back-cracking injuries for workers. Some can also be operated remotely to make things even safer. And that’s to say nothing of accidents caused by absent-minded humans — not a factor for robots. 
  • Much better quality standards: Robots achieve consistent results, ensuring higher-quality concrete structures, uniform finishes, and higher-quality overall construction.
  • Significant cost savings: Automation reduces labor costs (not to mention insurance premiums) and material waste, making construction more affordable — and project timelines more predictable. Plus, the typical ROI tends to hover around 1 to 3 years (depending on things like costs, robot type, etc.) 
  • Expanded possibilities: Robots enable the creation of complex and innovative concrete designs.
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Challenges for concrete robots

Now, if you think getting a concrete robot is going to solve all of your problems, you should temper your expectations a bit.

Here are some challenges to think about (and then overcome): 

  • The initial investment can be steep: As with any cutting-edge tech, upfront costs for the robot itself, software, and training personnel can be high. This could be a significant hurdle for smaller firms. 
  • Integrating the bots with your existing operations: A concrete robot is not just plug-and-play. Adjusting established construction practices, coordinating human-robot teams, and ensuring smooth data flow require careful planning and potentially, cultural shifts within the company.
  • Adapting to the unpredictable: Unlike factory floors, construction sites are chaotic. Weather, uneven terrain, and unexpected obstacles pose challenges to robotic navigation and operation. Concrete robots need ruggedness and adaptability beyond lab settings.

  • Think about safety: While the idea of a concrete robot is to reduce human risk, it can also introduce new ones. Preventing collisions, having proper machine guarding, and handling malfunctions all require rigorous safety protocols and potentially new regulations.
  • Can’t do it all: Current robots are good at specific tasks, but construction is diverse. A rebar-tying robot won't pour concrete. Over-reliance on robots could lead to bottlenecks if one machine breaks down or a job falls outside its capabilities. 
  • Public perception matters: The novelty of robots can spark fear of job displacement or distrust in unfamiliar tech. Proactive communication about robots' role as tools, not replacements, and their potential to improve safety is very important. 
  • Concrete robots break down: Robots are complex. On-site breakdowns require specialized technicians, potentially causing delays. Preventive maintenance plans are crucial, but this adds another cost factor to consider.
  • Regulatory hurdles: As robots become more common, legal frameworks may lag behind. Questions of liability, insurance, and standards for robotic operation need addressing for responsible adoption. 

Summing up

Concrete robots are more than just a fascinating technological advancement; they pose a radical shift in the way things are done in construction sites globally

While yes, you won’t solve everything on your site if you purchase a concrete robot, and yes, there will be challenges, the potential is just too big to ignore. 

As the tech continues to mature and become more accessible, we can expect a (pun intended) seismic shift in how we build our world. 

Next steps 

Elevate your shop floor with RO1 by Standard Bots, the state-of-the-art six-axis robotic arms, engineered to propel your operations regardless of your sector or scale. 

  • Budget-friendly automation: Access cutting-edge automation technology at around half the cost of competing models.
  • Best-in-class performance: RO1 has an impressive 18 kg payload capacity and exceptional speed, surpassing similar robots in its class.
  • Ever-evolving AI prowess: Powered by advanced artificial intelligence on par with GPT-4, RO1 learns and tailors its performance to your unique requirements, all within an intuitive, no-code interface.
  • Collaborative safety: RO1 is designed for easy and safe teamwork, employing state-of-the-art vision and sensor technology to create a secure collaborative environment.

Experience the transformative potential of RO1 with a risk-free 30-day trial. Contact us today to book a demonstration and find out why it’s one of the top robot arms available today.

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