Customer Use Case – IoT Enabled Commercial Construction Using Robotic 3D Printing

 

The Challenge

This customer launched a construction company with strategic business objective of building commercial and residential structures that were cost effective, code compliant, regionally appropriate and operations that were globally scalable.  In particular, he wanted to design these structures for low cost of ownership and maintenance in underdeveloped neighborhoods and nations where locally available materials could reduce the construction costs for some applications. To achieve this, he intended to use construction-grade robotic 3D printing equipment to fabricate finished structural elements either locally or remotely managed using an integrated site production control and enterprise business management system.

Elements of Success

The customer identified these areas as essential elements for success:

  • Reliance on cleared but otherwise unprepared or semi-prepared building sites

  • Fast curing paste as extrusion material with physical properties tailorable to each site’s requirements including weather that, when cured, meets commercial/residential construction code strength and fire resistance requirements

  • Use of a semi-autonomous robotic extrusion printing system wirelessly connected to production control system and supported by a mobile variable delivery rate extrusion material plant

  • Direct translation of CAD model to extrusion nozzle path and delivery rates

  • Ability to run simulations of candidate work packages before committing to live production runs to validate timelines, materials usage, risk assessments, equipment & supply failure workarounds, return on investment (ROI), etc

  • Production control system supporting multiple construction sites with ability to:

  • Serve as site portal for CAD construction models, building specifications, compliance and safety requirements

  • Harvest and analyze each site’s data (performance, preventative maintenance, supply chain, workforce safety, displays, etc).

  • Directly monitor and/or control each site’s integrated equipment suite, especially coordination of extrusion material plant operation and robot behavior

  • Proactively manage the performance and maintenance needs of site equipment to minimize downtime

  • Track workforce performance, availability of key skillsets, and general workplace management

  • Access to key data streams and reports on mobile devices

  • Provide accurate status on progress towards the company’s strategic business objectives

​System Realization

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To effectively deploy such a system of systems, the customer focused on key interdependencies that require:

  • A holistic view of field production and business management systems seamlessly networking data flows from production-side sensors with the business-side infrastructure

  • Use of embedded IoT devices and sensors at key points to provide real-time data as the most cost-effective way to gather critical production, system performance and health data.

  • Interconnectivity modeled to assure optimally aggregated and filtered site data to the greater enterprise via cloud services, refined into business intelligence by relevant analytics.

  • Development of a holistic data flow and interface model similar to this example

The Payoff

The addition of a Barcode/RFID Scanner and Human Resources Portal as part of the Production Console functionality will provide the customer more fully integrated workforce, asset management, supply chain and financial tracking capabilities at remote sites.  The suite of Command center apps will enable early project simulations that could guide site survey and other preproduction decision-making. Historical sensor data collection will readily assist event or project root cause analysis, post-mortem reviews and business/production process improvement.