Here’s the latest advance of robotics into the world of construction—a machine that takes on the tedious job of tying rebar for bridge decks under the supervision of only one human worker at the controls. It can take the place of a crew of ten laborers doing the same work, work 24/7, doesn’t require fringe benefits and won’t sue you if it gets injured on the job.
Tybot Rebar Ties
It’s called Tybot. It’s the brainchild of Jeremy Searock, former technical program manager at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center, who teamed up with Steve Muck, CEO and chairman of Brayman Construction Corp., to create a new company—Advanced Construction Robotics Inc.—to bring this and other products to the construction market.
Tybot works on a frame that can expand up to 140 feet across a bridge. The robotic arm ties the rebar together at each intersection, which the company estimates will cut labor hours in at least half.
Muck says the new bot eliminates human injuries like back, wrist and musculoskeletal disorders associated with tying rebar.
“This was the problem that was at the forefront of my mind,” Muck told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette in an interview in October. “The process of finding workers has become more and more difficult in the last 10 years. Tybot both speeds up the work and reduces the number of people to do it. This is the construction industry looking to the robotics industry for a solution to a business problem.”
Muck, the contractor knows of what he speaks. When his company, Brayman Construction, built the new Hulton Bridge between Oakmont and Harmar in Pittsburg in 2015, it took a crew of eight to 10 workers about 7,400 man hours, at $26 an hour plus about $21 an hour in benefits, from April to September to lay 113,000 square feet of rebar and tie just over 2 million joints where rebar intersected. “This was the problem that was at the forefront of my mind,” Muck said. “The process of finding workers has become more and more difficult in the last 10 years.”
Searock had some of the answers and between the two men conceptualized and the built what they call “a very boring robot that has great application and profitability.”
Tybot was recently demonstrated during bridge construction on Freedom Road in Beaver County, Penn.
Jim Foringer, acting executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s District 11, said the system shows promise, like other technological advances. “A lot of this will take the human error and human judgment out of the work,” he told the news agency. “The more efficient a contractor can be, that can only benefit the agency.”
Muck says that he expects to begin selling Tybots in the spring of 2018 through Tybot LLC, of Hampton, Penn., and license it to another manufacturer in the future, for as he said, “We don’t really want to develop and manufacture robots on a commercial basis.”