Speeding up construction with multi-trade layout

Tessa Lau

May 23, 2022

“How fast is the robot?” the prospective client asked on a sales call. “How many linear feet does it lay out per hour?” They were asking the wrong question.

Everyone knows that time equals money in construction. The less time is spent constructing a floor, the less risk there is of injury, the more time you have to resolve issues before the deadline.

And Dusty is one of the few technological advances proven to save time in construction. But it’s not because the robot zips around faster than people do (it does), and it’s not because it doesn’t need to take potty breaks (it doesn’t, duh). The real time savings in construction comes from compressing schedules with multi-trade layout.

In construction schedules today, each trade partner is responsible for performing their own layout prior to installation. But trades are notorious for not working well together, so the GC has to give each trade the floor one at a time in order for their crews to first lay out and then start their installation.

The result looks something like this:


Once the drywall layout crew has finished with the floor, they move up to the next floor and the first floor is handed over to the mechanical trade for their layout, then the plumbing crew, and so on. As time progresses the floor gets more and more cluttered with materials from all the prior trades, making layout even more time-consuming than it was before. The trades at the end of the process are trying to do their layout under and through stacks of materials and partially-installed fixtures.

What we’ve discovered is that Dusty can significantly speed up layout for all trades. If everyone participated, what we see is something like this:

Instead of having layout take several weeks (and needing to move materials around multiple times to give each trade clear access), all layout can complete in little more than the days originally allocated to just a single trade’s layout on the schedule.

With this use case, each trade runs a robot over the floor, printing their portion of the coordinated model. After they’re done, since they’ve saved so much time, each of the respective trade foremen can walk the floor together and collaboratively identify any issues that might impede the build. All identified issues can be immediately submitted to the architect as RFIs, and the architect can resolve all the issues at once, rather than piecemeal as each trade discovers another conflict.

Not only is everyone building off of the same single source of truth -- the coordinated model -- but the architect and GC spend less time resolving RFIs when that model is brought out into the field.

But having a robot traverse the same section of floor once for each trade is not as efficient as it could be. There’s a way to speed things up even more, which the most efficiency-minded clients are taking advantage of: printing all trades’ combined layout together in just a single pass over the floor.

With multi-trade group layout, all trades’ layout is set down with a single pass over the floor by the robotic printer. Trades experience unparalleled clarity and communication with each other, because they can see each others’ installation plans and immediately identify and resolve conflicts. Instead of fighting over the floor and pointing fingers, they start to solve problems together.

Watch our latest video to hear two of our clients, Southland Industries and Prime Electric, talk about the benefits that multi-trade group layout created on a recent hospital project.

Interested in deploying multi-trade group layout on one of your projects? Schedule a consultation with one of our sales experts today and have us help you figure out how group layout can generate significant schedule savings on your next project.