The machine is working within the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, as part of a Construction Innovation Hub (Hub) technology project called Big Yellow Robots.
As the construction industry moves increasingly towards manufactured and offsite construction techniques - to increase efficiency, cut build times and reduce construction costs - the sector requires a new generation of equipment to assemble and install those offsite manufactured components. While there are machine control systems that allow an excavator or a dozer to automatically dig or grade to design, the Big Yellow Robots project is looking at ways in which machines like the Hydradig could accurately install glazing or cladding panels and other prefabricated construction sub-assemblies.
The Hub acquired a JCB Hydradig wheeled excavator for the project, with JCB providing engineering support, back-up and a skilled demonstration operator. With sensing technology attached to the machine and direct access to the Hydradig’s CAN system that controls the hydraulic valves, the team is able to accurately map every movement. In addition, an array of cameras within the test cell is focussed on reflective points on the boom and dipper, to follow the machine in real time.
The Hydradig, which is equipped with a two-piece TAB main boom and a tilt/rotator, is undertaking a range of repetitive operations. These include lifting and placing actual glazing components, using a pen mounted on the tilt/rotator to write on two white boards within the test cell and running a range of circular attachments along an inclined string without touching it.