How Construction Robots Identify Conflicts
May 22, 2020
2 min read
When experienced field crews see our robot, they get very excited.
On a job site this week, our team chatted with the foreman of a large electrical contractor who had seen our robot print layout on two different projects. “This invention is amazing,” he said. “It will eliminate the same repeated mistakes I’ve seen for 30 years and save us so much time in the field.”
But he’s not just referring to the accuracy of the marks we print on the ground or the speed at which our robot drives across the deck. Automating the manual task of layout is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to capturing value from robotic layout automation.
What layout automation does is act as a forcing function to push the coordination and conflict resolution process farther upstream, into the design phase and out of the field.
Conflicts that are identified in the field are expensive to fix, because they generally span multiple trades. For example, plumbers may find that a sewer drain line is not properly enclosed within a bathroom wall. Or a drywall crew might be unable to finish a wall because mechanical ductwork has been installed only a few inches away from that wall.
Once conflicts are discovered, they can cause progress to be halted for hours or days until all the affected parties can agree on a solution. These delays add up to increased project cost. On some mega-projects, operating costs (just to keep the site running) can run in the thousands of dollars per minute!
Identifying and resolving conflicts like these are much easier to do in software, during the design phase. Companies that are investing strongly in BIM/VDC to generate highly detailed models during design will see that investment amplified by the use of layout robots that bring these models directly to the field. This streamlined process reduces the number of conflicts in the field, enabling crews to work at peak efficiency.
Field crews are hungry for innovation that gives them more time to build, with less time wasted on conflict resolution.
For more on BIM->field innovation, see this article in ENR FutureTech about how Dusty, along with our partners Gurnet Point and Planit, are creating a better BIM->field workflow with robotic layout automation.