Kier starts new trials with efficiency robot

New trials with Kier are planned to help quantify the benefits of using Scaled Robotics, the founder of the tech start-up has told BIM+. Stuart Maggs (above) also set out plans to offer a software-only service and said that plans to integrate the technology with Autodesk’s BIM 360 were advanced.

The Barcelona-based company is ramping up its activities following a recent €2m cash injection, which will see its staff increase threefold to 15.

Scaled Robotics has developed a robot that builds detailed 3D maps of construction sites using its multimodal sensors suite, and software that can accurately compare this data to the digital plans defined in the BIM models.

This allows detection of errors and deviations to enable construction companies to identify potential sources of delays early in the process and put countermeasures in place. The result is massively reduced construction times and significant cost savings.

Maggs said: “We have been trialling the technology with Kier on sites in London and Cambridge and got great feedback. The next stage is to build on the trial to better quantify the benefits – including how much time was being saved by the prevention of re-work. On the same project trials would also measure how the technology was improving the efficiency of work flows.”

New trials with Norwegian contractor AF Gruppen and Dutch contractor Dura Vermeer were also being extended as well as projects in Dubai and Japan, on the back of the investment, said Maggs.

The investment is also facilitating development of the equipment with new features, including the integration of BIM 360.

One of the biggest developments for the company is the release of new software-as-a-service which can analyse data from other reality capture devices like laser scanners, rather than use data from its own sensors on board the robot.

The company plans to offer both hardware and software-as-a-service once the equipment moves into the commercial phase.

Maggs said the biggest challenge he faced was persuading the construction industry that the technology can improve workflows and radically transform how they work. “But once they get their teeth into it and see how it works, they are able to embrace it and really help develop it fully.”

Kier piloted the system on the £22m Harris Academy scheme in Bromley, Greater London, and another project in Cambridge.

A principal investor in the technology is German formwork and scaffolding company PERI. BESIX in Belgium was also a keen backer.

Jannis Roser, managing partner of Surplus Invest, one of Scaled Robotics new investors, said: “Scaled Robotics is an outstanding deep tech company driven by passion and expertise. We are fully convinced that the team around Stuart Maggs and Bharath Sankaran will disrupt the construction sector with its solution.” 

Stuart Maggs is a keynote speaker at BIMshow Live, in Newcastle on 26/27 February

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