Skanska UK has received a funding award worth more than £700,000 to develop the use of robots for on-site and off-site construction.
The award came from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of their collaborative R&D programme.
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.
The advantage of robotics in construction is that it is safe, green, accurate and fast.
Skanska’s Head of Innovation, Sam Stacey said:
“We are delighted to have been awarded this grant. 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.”
The total grant is for £709,000. 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 are transforming productivity in construction.
Skanska’s partners in the project are:
- ABB Robotics
- The Building Research Establishment
- Tekla UK (software)
- Lean consultants Exelin
- University of Reading
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.”