AUTOMATION & ROBOTICS
Delivery of Materials
on Building Floors
How might we move materials within a building more efficiently, with less manpower and interruptions to work?
Challenge Statement Owner
Background and Current Practice
After the building structure is completed, materials for finishing works need to be carried from the loading points of each floor to the exact location on that floor where the work takes place.
Materials, such as bricks, cement, tiles, and wall panels, come in various shapes and sizes, and have different considerations when being transported.
In order to prevent clutter at the worksites, the materials are collected by workers as required before the start of their work.
They typically use manual equipment, such as trolleys and wheelbarrows. The planning for the material collection process is done by the supervisor or the workers themselves.
At each site, there are different sub-contractors in charge of different tasks, sharing the same loading site.
Opportunities and Key Challenges
A robotics solution could support the on-demand delivery of materials that are optimised based on the work progress. The solution would allow subcontractors to focus on their tasks at hand and spend less time collecting materials from the loading point.
The robotics solution would ideally be able to carry all types of materials, but as a start, bricks and cement are of higher priority. The following technical capabilities and specifications would best fit existing needs:
Capability to navigate the building floor, which includes concrete slab with steps of up to 150mm in height and slopes of up to 1:12 ratio, with minimal human intervention;
Ability to carry loads up to 500kg;
Allowance for the full load of materials to easily fit through a normal-sized door;
Capability to load and unload materials with minimal human intervention;
Prevention of collision with people or structures; and
Manual override of the automated functions.
The solution could potentially be further developed to support the planning and management of material delivery for a more seamless experience. Supervisors and workers would be able to track the real-time status of the material delivery, such as information on the collected items and schedule. Data-driven planning would reduce work interruptions due to lack of materials.
Such a solution could also help the management of the main contractor and subcontractors to better understand material consumption rates on-site with specific data on material type, time, and location. This would support the replenishing of materials to prevent project delays.
The robotics solution performs on-demand delivery of materials and thus, reduces the manpower required to one (or even none) for each trip to replenish materials for the work sites.
The material delivery planning and management features can be integrated into the solution as a bonus to support supervisors and site managers to minimise interruptions and delays in work by providing them with real-time data on materials and the delivery process.