Aurecon introduces robotic technology into mass timber construction

Image: Aurecon

Aurecon has introduced robotics technology into constructing Murdoch University’s Building 360, which is set to become what is reportedly western Australia’s largest mass engineered timber (MET) building upon completion.

Conceptualised by Aurecon and in collaboration with the Murdoch University and University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the robots have been designed by UTS researchers to deliver cumbersome screw fixings a task that causes fatigue and injury in workers given its repetitive and labour-intensive nature.

Building 360 will be a demonstration of Murdoch’s commitment to sustainability, aiming for a 6 Star Green Star rating once complete, a sustainability rating system by Green Building Council Australia.

Tim Spies, managing director of built environment Australia, Aurecon, said the pilot robotics project with Murdoch University and UTS showed that by thinking more innovatively, the timber industry could lead the way in improving project outcomes across the broader construction industry.

“The long-term objective is to prove that the modular nature of timber construction will benefit from the automation of some on-site construction activity, helping to increase productivity, reduce cost, improve workers’ OH&S, and advance innovation in the construction industry,” said Spies.

Andrew Deeks, Murdoch University’s vice-chancellor professor, commented that Building 360 would transform the student and staff experience through offering new, digitally enabled teaching and learning spaces in an environmentally friendly design.

“MET is a completely renewable resource and a more sustainable construction material than conventional steel or concrete, which is a huge contributor of greenhouse gas emissions globally. The building will also have a large array of photovoltaic cells to supply its power needs,” Deeks said.

“Working with our design, engineering and advisory partner Aurecon, we set out to determine where technology would add value to the construction process an opportunity to modernise an industry that, by and large, is yet to take a significant leap in innovation.”

According to Aurecon, there are around 200,000-300,000 screw fixings on the Building 360 construction site, and the robots have been trialled installing approximately 50 to 100 fixings as part of the proof of concept.