Concrete focus: Meet the rebar robot
The TyBot’s robotic arm moves across the width of the frame to tie the bar together
US entrepreneur Stephen Muck has developed a rebar-tying robot – which could slash the time spent on one of construction’s most laborious tasks. The CEO of Advanced Construction Robotics talks to CM.
Few jobs on a construction site are more painstaking, monotonous and back-breaking than tying rebar. But a US entrepreneur may have found a time-saving alternative: a rebar-tying robot.
The TyBot, as it is called, was created by Stephen Muck, founder and CEO of Pennsylvania-based Advanced Construction Robotics. “It can tie rebar at the speed of a team of about six to eight site workers, with only one worker required to supervise,” he says.
The robot has been trialled on bridge construction projects, and was deployed on a scheme in western Pennsylvania in late 2017. “We tied the bottom mat of rebar on a bridge deck and it went so well we were requested to go back and do the top mat the next week,” says Muck.
The TyBot uses a motorised frame that can expand to a width of up to 42m, according to how wide the bridge deck is.
A robotic arm moves across the frame, hovering over each rebar intersection, then ties the reinforcement bar together. The frame moves across the bridge repeating this process.
Muck, who is also the CEO of contractor Brayman Construction, says that he devised the robot after becoming frustrated by labour shortages for rebar-tying work, which could slow down or delay a project.
He reckons that when Brayman built the Hulton Bridge in Oakmont, Pennsylvania in 2015, it took a crew of eight to 10 workers about 7,400 man-hours over six months to lay over 10,000 sq m of rebar and tie more than two million intersections.
“The TyBot both speeds up the work and reduces the number of people to do it,” Muck says. “There is also a health and safety benefit to the robot as it eliminates injuries caused by workers stepping between the rebar and bending over to tie the intersections.”
The TyBot can be used at night or when site workers are occupied with other work, a further time-saving benefit. “This is the construction industry using robotics for a solution to a business problem,” says Muck.
Advanced Construction Robotics is now working with a financing company to fund the project and Muck expects to begin selling TyBots in the spring.