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Aurecon employs robots in timber building construction

Manufacturing News

Engineering group Aurecon is reimagining mass timber construction with the use of robotics technology to build Western Australia’s largest mass-engineered-timber (MET) building.

Building 360 at Perth’s Murdoch University, which will accommodate up to 60 per cent of the university’s teaching requirements, will be built using robots built by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in a project with Murdoch University.

Conceptualised by Aurecon, the robots have been uniquely designed by UTS researchers to deliver cumbersome screw fixings.

This task can cause fatigue and injury in workers given the repetitive and labour-intensive nature of this work.

Aurecon’s Australian Managing Director for built environment Tim Spies, said the pilot robotics project showed that by thinking more innovatively the timber industry could lead the way in improving project outcomes across the broader construction industry.

Spies said: “The project’s immediate objective is focused on proof of concept, to demonstrate the robot’s capability of installing screw fixings in an accurate manner.

“The long-term objective is to prove that the modular nature of timber construction will benefit from the automation of some on-site construction activity, helping to increase productivity, reduce cost, improve workers’ OH&S, and advance innovation in the construction industry.”

Distinguished Professor of the UTS Robotics Institute, Dikai Liu said intelligent robots are changing construction.

Liu said: “Construction sites are varied, complex and changing – and that can be a real challenge for a robot to navigate and conduct operations such as drilling a screw into the right position.

“What we have been able to design is an intelligent robot that can focus on an important task even amidst this disruptive environment.”

There are between 200,000 and 300,000 screw fixings on the Building 360 construction site, with the robots trialled installing approximately 50 to 100 fixings as part of the proof of concept.

Building 360 is aiming for a 6 Star Green Star rating once complete.

Picture: UTS Sydney

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