When robots become construction workers

When robots become construction workers

When we think of construction sites, what do we think of: dirty environments, high-risk jobs, or workers who are tired in the dust under the scorching sun?

In fact, construction sites are now getting rid of these stereotypes. On November 27, The Paper reporter encountered a robot that looked like a scorpion and a boxy robot on a construction site in Shanghai...

When robots become construction workers

Self-propelled intelligent steel bar binding robot at work The Paper reporter Jiang Lelai pictured

Rebar binding robot: looks like a scorpion, good at "night vision"

The rebar binding robot is shaped like a scorpion, the chassis is equipped with a built-in battery, and it can walk horizontally and vertically on its own, and the binding process is completed by a long robotic arm. And to control it, all you need is an app, which can be accessed from a computer, tablet, or even a mobile phone.

On November 27, on the upper floor of a tower in CECEP's first project in Shanghai, this small and flexible "scorpion" was tying the steel bar intersection nodes of the floor slab with iron wire.

Yang Yan, director of the Institute of Building Structure and Disaster Prevention of the Engineering Research Institute of China Construction Eighth Bureau, said that in terms of the binding speed of a single node, the robot is close to the manual and has quality assurance, but the movement of the robot on the steel mesh takes more time, so the comprehensive time of single-point binding is about eight or nine seconds. Its greater advantage is that it can work for a long time or even 24 hours (with a battery backup), and the robot's visual recognition is better at night.

In the traditional manual steel bar binding operation, dozens of people may work at the same time on thousands of square meters of steel bars, just like rice planting in the busy season. When the steel bar binding robot is put into use on a large scale, perhaps one person can complete all the work with a mobile phone to supervise.

At present, the rebar binding robot is still in the field testing stage, and the process will be further improved, and the scene application of beam and column rebar binding will continue to be explored. "It is expected that it will be able to mature next year, and the steel bar binding robot may be lighter in quality and more in quantity. Yang Yan said.

When robots become construction workers

The plastering robot at work Courtesy of the Eighth Bureau of China Construction Bureau

Plastering robot: ensure that there are no hollows on the wall

At the basement construction site of the above-mentioned project, a plastering robot is silently doing its job.

The mortar is pumped in by a pump, and the robot then plasters the wall according to the received pulse signals, and in addition to applying it vertically, it can also move horizontally autonomously according to the work target. Underneath the boxy exterior, the functions and efficiencies it can achieve have been upgraded many times.

At a height of 1.8 meters, it can be painted on walls up to 5.5 meters high, which is far more than the height that workers can reach. In the actual construction process, this also avoids the trouble of setting up the operating frame on site and the danger of workers working at height. In addition, the thickness of the mortar applied by the robot can reach 2.5cm, which requires many repetitive tasks for manpower, and the robot operation can ensure that the wall is free of hollows.

The comprehensive work efficiency of the plastering robot is expected to reach 300 square meters per day, which is 6-8 times that of manual plastering, and can stably maintain the quality of the construction process and greatly save manpower. Hua Lei, the comprehensive engineer of the project, said that at present, this robot is more suitable for large-area work scenarios. In some welts and corners, it is also necessary to manually make appropriate supplements.

When robots become construction workers

Centralized processing production line of steel bars The surging news reporter Jiang Lelai pictured

Intelligent processing system for steel bars: It can supply finished steel bars to multiple engineering sites at the same time

There is also a large-scale equipment on the project site, which is the intelligent processing system 2.0 for steel bars. According to Hua Lei, this system can realize the unmanned whole process of steel bar scheduling, processing, binding and stacking, and the fully automated processing of column forming steel skeleton.

By placing bundles of raw rebar of different sizes into the machine, the processing system is able to automatically cut and bend the rebar according to the set production target, and sort and stack the rebar according to the demand for the specific building component. Workers only need to transport the sorted piles of steel bars to the corresponding components, and they can be used directly.

Compared with the traditional manual steel bar processing, the system integrates all links, reduces the labor cost required for each link, and avoids the material loss and construction efficiency limitation caused by the difficulty of manpower to efficiently allocate steel bar materials.

In the case of the low degree of intelligence of the overall on-site processing of steel bars in the construction industry, the large amount of steel bar cost investment, the processing cost is rising year by year, and the centralized processing and distribution rate is low, this automation equipment effectively solves a series of practical problems. Ideally, the system is capable of supplying finished steel to several surrounding construction sites at the same time.

At present, the machine can be operated by only three people and can work efficiently at 3.5 tons per hour. It is estimated that after deducting the initial cost input, this processing method can save tens of millions of yuan in 5 years compared with the manual processing of the same amount of steel bar.

The scheduling, processing, sorting, and binding of steel bars are among the few standardized operating processes on construction sites. In the face of such a scenario, mechanized operations have been able to basically cover the whole process, which also provides a sample for building industrialization and intelligent construction.

Expert: The work of a construction worker may become a robot

Under the wave of digital transformation, factories and ports have gradually moved towards the road of unmanned, so what about construction sites?

Judging from the current application of smart devices, robots are more used to serve some specific processes and construction links in the construction process. In addition to the above-mentioned robots, there are also measuring robots, light-collecting and leveling robots, welding robots, and so on. For a specific scene or local construction process, only the intelligent processing system of steel bars can be counted as an attempt.

Yang Yan told the surging news reporter that the current mainstream view in the industry is man-machine collaboration, and it is still difficult to realize the unmanned mode similar to a factory in the whole scene of building construction in the short term. Because the production line of the factory is very standard, but the shape, material, volume and other aspects of each project in the construction industry are different. Not all work can be standardized, and some of it will inevitably need to be done manually.

Like the controversy caused by the promotion of unmanned production, will more and more robots affect the employment of workers?

In fact, the current shortage of human resources is a pain point for the entire construction industry, and it is also forcing the industry to develop in the direction of intelligent construction. Operators on construction sites are becoming increasingly difficult to recruit, and there are fewer young people. More people choose to do courier or takeout than to work on a construction site.

In addition, there are strict controls on the upper age limit for workers. The reality is, in the industry's half-joking parlance, that the average age of construction workers in the industry rises by one year every year. This may not be an accurate figure, but it also illustrates the dilemma of the lack of succession among the construction workers.

With the increasing number of intelligent equipment, Yang Yan believes that the requirements for workers will also change in the future. Perhaps workers will not face excessive requirements on traditional construction operation skills, but need to know more about the operation and maintenance of machinery and equipment, automation equipment. At the same time, she hopes that this development will correct the stereotype of young people about construction sites. "If you find that engaging in this industry has become a robot control, will you feel more technologically and more willing to join?"

The future prospects of intelligent construction will be very broad, intelligent equipment, construction robots will also greatly change the model of the traditional construction industry, in civil engineering, installation, decoration and other aspects have great development potential. Yang Yan said that in the past one or two years, it is expected to take the lead in making breakthroughs in some subdivided scenarios.

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