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Mon October 30, 2017 - National Edition
Steve Muck, CEO and chairman of Pennsylvania-based Brayman Construction Corp., has joined forces with Jeremy Searock, former technical program manager of Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center, to find a robotics-based solution for the labor shortage in the construction industry.
The pair created Advanced Construction Robotics Inc., whose first product, a rebar-tying robot named Tybot, is market-ready, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. For Muck, the idea for a rebar-tying robot stemmed from the fact that contractors have a tough time finding crews to do the work on bridge projects each summer. Muck said that often, it's the same crew moving from job to job, performing the same work, which can lead to slow-downs and even delays.
“This was the problem that was at the forefront of my mind,” said Muck. “The process of finding workers has become more and more difficult in the last 10 years.”
How It Works
Tybot performs work across a frame that can expand 140 ft., the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. A robotic arm ties the rebars together where they intersect, and only needs one worker to supervise the process. The company believes Tybot could slash the labor hours required for such a project in half. What's more, Tybot can work round the clock, if necessary.
“[Tybot] both speeds up the work and reduces the number of people to do it,” Muck said. “This is the construction industry looking to the robotics industry for a solution to a business problem.”
What's more, Muck said Tybot can also reduce the injuries workers get while tying the rebar by hand.
Brayman Construction recently used Tybot in a bridge-building project in Beaver County, Pa. According to Jim Foringer, acting executive of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's District 11, the robot seems to be an encouraging tool, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“A lot of this will take the human error and human judgment out of the work, said Foringer. “The more efficient a contractor can be, that con only benefit the agency.”
The company expects to start selling the robots in the spring of 2018, and while there is no word yet on the price of the product, Muck did say that the cost was “in the sweet spot” for make it worthwhile for contractors, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Eventually, the company would like to license Tybot to another manufacturer for production, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“We don't really want to develop and manufacture robots on a commercial basis,” said Muck.