CRAFT; Cross sectoral Robotic Applications For productivity Transformation

Lead Participant: Skanska Technology Limited

Abstract

The project will innovate in adaptable, reconfigurable robotic and supporting digital manufacturing technology to deliver a step change in productivity in processes that manufacture & assemble a range of products in small production lots. It will focus on construction product manufacture but outcomes will also be applicable to other manufacturing sectors. Robots have not, to date, been used in these contexts as it has not been possible to easily reconfigure them between different product runs leading to low utilisation, preventing the productivity gains needed to justify investment in automation. However, recent advances in robotics mean that the time is ripe for innovation. Robots must be adaptable and linked to digital design & management capabilities to enable reconfiguration, with manufacturing processes/supply chains reengineered to optimise overall productivity. The project will therefore develop a reconfigurable robotic solution for construction product manufacture and assembly that links to digital Building Information Modelling (BIM). As a use case it will take supply chains for steel fabrication, and mechanical and electrical (M&E) equipment in which parts are factory-manufactured, then assembled near to a construction site in a temporary ‘flying factory’. Successful implementation will lead to a 30% improvement in supply chain productivity. It will create a new market for UK companies (including an SME) providing robotic and related digital solutions for construction. The project solution will be applicable to wider manufacturing sectors where the ability to manufacture multiple product types in low lot sizes is key.

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