Making rebar friendly for robots

Repeatability and creating shared value through productivity

Manufacturing construction

At Toggle we are pursuing a vision of a built environment that is delivered quickly, safely and with better value for everyone involved. We see potential for new ways of building to benefit the whole value chain, starting with the community where construction takes place and flowing up to the workers and tradespeople on the job and the contractors, owners and investors who develop each project.

The way we are achieving this is as part of a broader movement to bring manufacturing practices into the construction industry. Our tool of focus is industrial automation which spans robotics, software, process and logistics.

One of the key characteristics that makes manufacturing automation possible is repeatability. Standardizing, modularizing and generally creating predictability in what you’re making ensures an avenue for technology to increase productivity. But construction tends to be highly customized: to the type of structure, to the location, to the design and even to the contractors’ preferred way of building. Rebar is no different. There are many acceptable ways to design, specify, detail, fabricate and install rebar even for a single basic application like a column, wall or floor. So how do we create predictability in a world of job-specific requirements?

Step and Repeat

We start with design. Automation can be just a one to one swap of worker for machine but the real gains lie in optimizing people, process and tools holistically. We look at structural design and rebar detailing to identify some key shapes and configurations that we know robotic systems can manufacture efficiently. Then we work together with developers, engineers and contractors identify design practices (often in the detailing stage) that allow for fast and accurate prefabrication with industrial robotics and efficient and flexible installation onsite by people. For example, by breaking down reinforcement into series of two base shapes: cages and meshes, we can turn a complex configuration into a series of simpler, easier to fabricate sub-modules.

3D columns and 2D mesh represent basic building blocks of a modular system

New ways to work

This is a process. Construction is a complex system of interdependent systems, processes and trades and we know that when you change one link in the chain others are impacted as well. If you are a developer, GC, EPC, precast manufacturer, concrete subcontractor or steel worker and are interested in new ways of thinking about this critical construction material and process please get in touch.

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Daniel Blank

Daniel Blank

Rebar & Robots @ Toggle.is

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