Software upgrade doubles robot’s brick-laying output

The Semi-Automated Mason (SAM) robotics system continues to enhance productivity and enable faster, higher-quality brick masonry work on the jobsite, product engineers contend—especially on the strength of a OS 2.0 software package demonstrated last month at World of Concrete 2017.

The average mason lays 350-400 modular bricks in a work day. SAM averages 2,000-plus bricks per day, product engineers observe, thus making a robot-equipped jobsite 2.5 times more efficient than using manual labor alone. SAM’s main conveyor holds around 22 modular bricks and can place up to a 12-lb. utility brick. Two smaller conveyors simultaneously hold intermittently placed cut brick and/or smaller end pieces.

SAM is a self-contained system with on-board air and electricity. Vaporized propane fuels the machine’s generator, producing electricity to run the robot. A cabinet-housed air conditioner cools the motherboard while in the device in operation. A laser, in conjunction with mapping software, designates placement of each brick, adjusting for crews’ field measurements.

“The physical and repetitive nature of the job takes a toll on bricklayers,” says Construction Robotics President and Co-Founder Scott Peters. “SAM can help by significantly reducing the amount of lifting masons need to do, allowing them to focus on the quality and the details, and not beat their bodies up. The new software makes production twice as fast with easier set up and functionality. We are now able to offer improved mapping software, new track design, and a simpler and improved story pole and the ability to lay soldier courses.”

SAM OS 2.0 software equips the robot with he calls the “ultra-precise ability” to place bricks and give architects more freedom to create higher-quality designs that can be completed more cost-effectively and only achieved using SAM. On average, the robot potentially places two to five times more bricks per hour than a two-mason, one-laborer crew. Machine reliability and predictability, Construction Robotics notes, enables contractors to accurately predict how many hours are required for a job, taking the guesswork out of estimating. The SAM OS 2.0’s real-time productivity tracking keeps the robot on schedule and affords designated users access to work progress logs throughout the day.

F.A. Wilhelm is the first contractor to own a SAM with the OS 2.0 software package. Crews broke the record for the amount of bricks the robot could lay while working on the Indiana Pacers Training Facility in downtown Indianapolis, notes Wilhelm Operations Manager Mike Berrisford. His team laid 3,000 bricks in a nine and one-half hour day versus a prior SAM record of 2,770 bricks over an 11-hour shift.

“By investing in SAM and the OS 2.0 software package, businesses benefit from greater productivity, efficiency, and design, and there are even greater advantages for tomorrow as robotics is the future of the construction industry,” Peters affirms. “To ensure that users realize the greatest benefits from SAM, Construction Robotics provides customized training sessions and ongoing user support to make sure contractors are positioned for future growth.”

SAM helps masons expand their skills into new areas and improve worker health and safety by offloading physical activities and extending the life of a workers’ career, he adds. The SAM automation process of laying bricks enables masons to focus on other aspects of the job, resulting in even greater craftsmanship and finished project quality. — Construction Robotics, Victor, N.Y., 585/742-2004;