Sisk turns to robots to boost productivity on Wembley project

13 June 2019 | By CM staff

Contractor Sisk is set to become the latest contractor to embrace robotics and is planning to trial block laying at Wembley Park where it is building 743 new homes to rent for developer Quintain.

The £211m contract will deliver Canada Gardens, which comprises 743 new build-to-rent homes across seven buildings and will be Sisk’s ninth project at Wembley Park.

Stephen Bowcott, CEO of John Sisk & Son, said the move to bring robot technology to sites for block, brick and manual handling is intended to improve productivity. He is reported as saying that the firm has already increased productivity by 15% by investing £4m in digital systems.

Sisk is said to be close to moving forward with plans to buy in small-scale bricklaying robots after searching worldwide for the right technology.

The contractor is also now tagging assets for BIM as it plans to expand its build offer to include five-year maintenance services.

“This will involve fitting sensors to buildings to make them cognitive so we can closely monitor when they are feeling sick or breaking down,” Bowcott said.

The embracing of robots has been picking up pace of late. Neil Thompson, director of digital construction at engineering consultancy SNC-Lavalin Atkins, said: “It’s amazing the sheer spectrum of applications today, where before robots were reserved for large industrial processes like tunnel-boring machines and autonomous plant in mines.

“Manufacturers are focused on creating easy-to-use interfaces so that robots are easy to program, which makes it easy for innovators to build a credible business case to implement robotics in our sector.”

There is also the potential to link robots with digital models, so they do not need pre-programming by humans.

“Our current focus is connecting our CAD systems to robotics, so the robot can understand and have the autonomy to execute tasks itself,” said Felipe Manzatucci, innovation director at Skanska. “The right data capture from the CAD systems will be an enabler of AI. That link is an important step in making digitalisation an enabler of industrialisation.”

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