The Evolution of Bricklaying: From Motor Mason to Robotic Revolution

Bricks, one of the oldest building materials, have been used in construction since ancient times. The traditional bricklaying process has seen minimal advancement over the years, resulting in low productivity in the construction industry. Qualified workers, especially bricklayers and masons, are in high demand but in short supply. In this blog post, we’ll explore the evolution of bricklaying, from Motor Mason in the 1960s to modern robotic bricklayers. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of robotic bricklayers and how technology is shaping the future of construction.

The Traditional Bricklaying Process

The traditional bricklaying process involves manually spreading mortar, positioning bricks, and smoothing out excess mortar with a trowel. Unfortunately, this method hasn’t undergone significant advancements, leading to low productivity in the construction industry.

The Challenge of Low Productivity

Low productivity is a major challenge in the construction industry, with labor productivity steadily decreasing over the years. Finding skilled workers, particularly bricklayers and masons, has become increasingly difficult. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, nearly two-thirds of bricklaying contractors struggle to find skilled workers.

Motor Mason: A Glimpse into the Past

In the mid-1960s, Motor Mason, a mechanical bricklayer, made waves in the construction industry. It claimed to lay bricks 5-10 times faster than the conventional method. Motor Mason was mounted on a rail parallel to a wall and quickly inserted individual brick blocks. However, it disappeared from the industry after a few years, leaving behind a mystery.

SAM100: A Leap Forward

In 2015, Construction Robotics introduced SAM100 (Semi-Automated Mason), the first modern bricklaying robot. SAM100 increases productivity by three to five times but requires collaboration with trained masons. One mason maneuvers it, while another conceals wall ties, removes excess mortar, and lays bricks in inaccessible areas.

SAM100 is equipped with multiple sensors, a laser eye for precision, and a computer-aided manufacturing design for mapping the job. It measures various parameters, including velocity, incline angles, temperature, humidity, and more.

Hadrian X: Advancing Automation

Fastbrick Robotics introduced Hadrian X, an advanced automated bricklaying machine. Hadrian X utilizes industrial adhesive instead of traditional mortar, increasing structural strength and thermal efficiency. Its working procedure includes generating a 3D model of the building, feeding data into the machine, and printing the structure course-by-course, similar to a 3D printer. It also handles cutting and routing bricks for electrical and plumbing services.

Advantages of Robotic Bricklayers

  • Robotic bricklayers can lay up to 3000 bricks per day, reducing project duration.
  • They work tirelessly without breaks, increasing productivity.
  • Labor costs can be reduced by up to 50%.
  • Robotic bricklayers enhance wall alignment and vertical brick alignment.
  • They mitigate labor shortage problems.

Disadvantages of Robotic Bricklayers

  • Robotic machines are costly.
  • Proper training is required for effective operation.
  • On-site installation and alignment are time-consuming.
  • Robotic machines require fuel, impacting the environment.

The Future of Bricklaying

Technology has come a long way, from Motor Mason to modern automated bricklaying robots. These machines are now equipped with CAD and data tracking technologies, making construction more productive, safe, and sustainable. As these technologies continue to develop and become more widespread, we can expect further transformations in masonry and construction automation. The future of bricklaying is undoubtedly bright, with robotics playing a central role in reshaping the industry.

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