Everyone loves the look of beautiful bricks perfectly laid out in complex patterns. This is an art form that has been around for centuries. And it’s getting harder to find professional well-trained bricklayers. Now, there’s technology to help these pros.
Software developer, Fologram, has developed a method of merging the digital world with the real world. This innovative software uses mixed reality headsets to send 3D modeling data from Rhino into Microsoft HoloLens.
Using this new technology, two bricklayers can complete a brick lattice that would take about two weeks to complete in only 6 ½ hours. The work is not only completed faster, but it’s also much more accurate. The workers must wear special VR goggles that display the masonry design. They simply follow the design throughout the bricklaying process and when completed, it should look exactly like the virtual display they were following.
Their semi-automated mason (SAM) robot is able to lay 250 to 400 bricks per hour, whereas a typical mason can only lay 300 to 500 bricks per day.
Training for Automated Jobs
Of course, there is some training for bricklayers to learn this process well enough to complete a brick wall and get everything just right. But the developers believe that once workers understand how the program works and get used to using the VR goggles, they will be able to shave a considerable amount of time off any project.
This could completely revolutionize the bricklaying industry. In many construction projects, bricks are only laid for feature walls due to the cost. This has always been a troubling aspect of construction. In the past, the construction industry has tried to deal with this problem in various ways. They’ve reduced the quality of the bricks themselves which does result in a poorly constructed wall. Other methods use bricks that are only one or two inches deep. This gives the appearance of a brick wall while reducing the cost. But this also results in a more undesirable finished product.
Is Automation the Way of the Future?
The world of construction is moving more toward automation with the biggest development in recent years being 3D printing. Using 3D printing, a small house can be constructed in about a week instead of taking months. This type of construction is not meant to replace traditional construction work. Instead, it seeks to augment the industry.
There are numerous situations where 3D printed homes can be a lifesaver. These include:
- For the homeless community
- In areas that have been devastated by natural disasters
- In low-income areas
- In other nations where poverty is rampant
In the same manner, virtual reality bricklaying does not seek to replace traditional brick laying. Instead, it has been developed to augment the industry. True craftsmen will never be replaced but automation, robots and 3D technology can make it much faster and cheaper to get certain projects done that would normally not be doable.
President and Co-founder of Fologram, Scott Peters, reinforces this concept. “Where is someone doing the same thing over and over again where we can apply a robot to assist that person and either take the physical strain out of their work or increase the speed at which they’re able to work?”
Other industry professionals have echoed these sentiments. All research shows that there’s an increasing demand for highly trained construction workers but the workforce is declining for several reasons. Some blame the retirement of Baby Boomers and others say that American workers are looking for white-collar jobs. They just don’t want to get their hands dirty anymore with laborious jobs. This has opened the door for automation in the construction sector.
Storing Expensive Tools
Wherever you go, you’ll find bricklayers and workers using special tools, often very expensive. The best way to protect these tools is with quality tool storage systems. Rolacase USA manufactures top-notch van shelving and work truck cabinets and other products for tradesmen. The company began in 1982 in Australia and quickly became popular because of the durable construction and wide range of storage solutions. These include storage for Cargo Vans, Work Trucks, Tiny Homes, RVs, Boats and other areas where it’s tricky to find enough space to store everything.