bauma 2022 will highlight machine technology and innovation

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Machines that drive and operate autonomously are among the grand visions for the future of the construction industry. “However, ‘true’ construction machinery autonomy is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future because, unlike the autonomous working environment of, say, a quarry or mine, there are technical challenges and complex security issues,” says Tim -Oliver Muller. The director of the Hauptverband der Deutschen Bauindustrie eV believes that it is much more realistic and feasible for the construction industry to develop and use “intelligent” construction machines with semi-automated, automated or support functions – and to do so for selected construction processes, such as in earthmoving, road construction or special heavy construction. “Such solutions have the potential to significantly increase efficiency and productivity,” says Müller. They could relieve machine operators from repetitive and tiring activities. The industry expert points out that smart machines would also be independent of their individual tasks, an advantage that should not be underestimated at a time when there is a shortage of skilled workers.

A discussion of the current situation on the way to autonomous or at least intelligent construction machinery is possible at bauma 2022, the world’s leading trade fair for construction machinery, building material machinery, mining machinery, construction vehicles and construction equipment.

MiC 4.0: laying the foundations for the construction site of the future

First, in order to enable partial automation even on more complex construction sites, machine-to-machine communication between manufacturers is essential. Together with the Main Association of the German Construction Industry (HDB), the Mechanical Industry Association e. V. (VDMA) wants to create the best conditions for this. This is why the associations founded the “Machines in Construction 4.0” (MiC 4.0) working group at bauma 2019. “We currently have 105 members from seven nations and 31 working groups”, reports Dr. Darius Soßdorf, Managing Director general of MiC 4.0. To make processes on construction sites work more digitally, smarter and ultimately more autonomous in the future, things like machine condition data need to be standardized. It starts with information about whether a machine is on or off. “While manufacturers have so far defined this for their products themselves, this now applies to all manufacturers who commit to MiC 4.0: in any construction machine with an internal combustion engine that sends the signal ‘on’, the crankshaft of the engine spins,” says Soßdorf. He claims that the joint approach implemented here is entirely new and unique.

These and many other results achieved by MiC 4.0 over the past three years will be presented to the specialist public in the bauma LAB0 innovation hall. In addition to the presentation of the elaborated documents, there will also be a physical demonstration.

Cobots reduce processing time

Maximilian Schöberl of the Chair of Material Handling, Material Flow and Logistics at the Technical University of Munich expects that in ten years various cobots will be active on construction sites. The term “cobot” is a portmanteau of “collaboration” and “robot”. It refers to robots designed for direct collaboration with humans. Schöberl and a research team from the chair expected to see developments in this direction in the form of a commercially viable radio-controlled vibrating plate compactor. This was initially “ready for automation” with appropriate sensors and control units. In the end, the scientists coupled the machine with an excavator according to the guide follower principle: the excavator created a plane, while the vibrating plate compactor constantly followed it independently, compacting the volume. “As a result, the cooperation made it possible to switch work steps in parallel and, in the ideal case, to halve the processing time,” reports Schöberl.

Mobile robots equipped with sensors for inspection tasks

Can robots help monitor the status of construction projects, such as the 3.6 km long Köhlbrand Bridge in Hamburg? This is one of the questions that researchers at the Institute for Digital and Autonomous Construction at the Technical University of Hamburg are working on. To do this, they use a four-legged mobile robot, the I-DOG. The machine is about the size of a poodle and is equipped with sensors to measure, process and analyze data on building structures. It is also capable of recording and analyzing vibrations, which can be used to detect structural damage.

For its precise location in space – one of the main requirements of autonomous mobile systems – this mechanical sniffer dog uses Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, which allows conclusions to be drawn about its own location from laser scans .

The aforementioned Hamburg Köhlbrand bridge serves as a reference object in a recently launched project. To carry out inspections, several I-DOGs must travel to the monumental construction project, commissioned in 1974 and classified as a cultural monument. They will collect their own data and pick up data generated by smart sensors permanently installed in the bridge. “The goal is to have fleets of robots that communicate with each other. By combining sensor data, a complete picture of the building’s condition is created with relatively little effort. We can then enter this into a digital model, for example for renovation planning,” says project leader Professor Kay Smarsly. You can also find out more about the I-DOG and its possible applications in the LAB0 innovation hall at the “Science Hub” stand.

Tickets are available now.

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