Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

NORTH HILLS FIRM DEVELOPS ROBOT TO HELP WITH BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION [Corrected 10/31/17]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

NORTH HILLS FIRM DEVELOPS ROBOT TO HELP WITH BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION [Corrected 10/31/17]

Article excerpt

The following CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION appeared on October 31, 2017.Advanced Construction Robotics Inc. initially will sell, manufacture and lease a new robot to tie rebar for bridge deck projects through subsidiary Tybots LLC. A story Monday left out the subsidiary.

Two years ago, Steve Muck attended a meeting at Carnegie Mellon University to discuss how robots could help the manufacturing and construction industries.

As CEO and chairman of Brayman Construction Corp. of Saxonburg, Mr. Muck centered his thoughts on one activity: tying rebar, the monotonous, back-breaking task where crews tie wires around each intersection to stabilize a frame of reinforcement bars before they are covered with concrete to form a bridge deck.

Every summer, Mr. Muck said, contractors struggle to find enough laborers for that work, which often is done by the same crew moving from one project to another. That slows down construction and occasionally delays a project, he said.

Fast-forward two years and now Mr. Muck has teamed with Jeremy Searock, former technical program manager at CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center, to create Advanced Construction Robotics Inc. The Hampton company has tested and is ready to go to market with its first product, an autonomous robot called Tybot that can tie rebar with only one worker supervising the operation.

Tybot works on a frame that can expand as much as 140 feet across the width of a bridge. The robotic arm hovers over each rebar intersection and ties the rebars together, a process that the company estimates could cut labor hours in half.

In addition, Mr. Muck said, the new product can reduce construction injuries that can occur as laborers straddle the rebar frames and bend over to tie intersections.

"This was the problem that was at the forefront of my mind," Mr. Muck said. "The process of finding workers has become more and more difficult in the last 10 years."

How much work is involved in laying and tying rebar? …

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