The £709,000 grant is from Innovate UK and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Skanska is leading a research consortium to create robotic construction units that can be deployed on site, or in ‘flying factories’, to carry out cutting, drilling and fixing.
‘Flying factories’ is a system of near-site manufacture, which allows structures to be built in controlled conditions, removing the potential effects of bad weather and other on-site hazards – speeding up the assembly of the building on site. [See our previous report here.]
Skanska innovation chief Sam Stacey said: “Robotics in construction is an unknown field and provides great opportunities. A robot to drill and fix to the underside of slabs, for example, would eliminate a lot of work at height in dusty, noisy environments.”
Starting in the fourth quarter of this year, the project, Flexible Robotic Assembly Modules for the Built Environment (FRAMBE), will scope out the opportunities for automation and develop robotic applications, building on a suite of Skanska initiatives that seek to improve productivity in construction.
Skanska’s partners in the project are:
- ABB Robotics
- The Building Research Establishment
- Tekla UK (software)
- Exelin (lean consultant)
- University of Reading
Sam Stacey says: “This approach, of collaboration with experts from a range of industries, is bringing to construction the levels of quality and cost reduction experienced sectors such as automotive. Our relationship with ABB has been established through the 3D concrete printing project and, in Sweden, with robot solutions for civil works; Exelin is a partner on flying factories.”