From building the world’s first 3D printed skyscraper in Dubai to the Dutch’s revolutionary plastic road made up of recyclable materials, the construction industry has certainly evolved over the past year. The newest innovation: The SAM100 – an on-site bricklaying robot capable of laying close to 3,000 bricks per day.
SAM100: The Semi-Automated Mason
SAM, short for Semi-Automated Mason, was engineered by New York-based Construction Robotics to “assist with the repetitive and strenuous task of lifting and placing each brick.” With human masons averaging 500 bricks per day, there’s an obvious productivity difference. Designed to work with Masons and not replace their jobs, SAM is estimated to reduce labor costs by 50% while increasing Masons’ productivity by 3-5 x’s. The robotic bricklayer also reduces lifting by 80% – lowering the risk of construction-site related injuries.
With a $500,000 price tag, CR’s robot doesn’t come cheap but depending on the scale of the construction project, it may be worth the investment. According to the CR’s website, SAM has been used in over 16+ construction sites, worked alongside 115+ Masons, and has traveled to over 10+ states to lay brick.
Increased Production & Productivity
Capable of building walls “six times faster than a human bricklayer,” SAM100 is poised to revolutionize an industry notoriously difficult to change (until recently). “For a lot of different reasons, the construction industry has been slow to adopt innovation and change,” construction manager Zachary Podkaminer told Digital Trends. “Now it seems the industry is finally evolving and we’re trying to be a part of that by bringing technology to construction sites.”
Backed by a proprietary software program and a recent upgrade to OS version 2.0, SAM100 is more than just a bricklaying vending belt. “We built a sensing system that looks at laser that’s mounted to a building and corrects for any movement that platform is undergoing,” CEO and Co-founder Scott Peters explained. “We use a hydra mobile track system for SAM – attaching the robot to tracks.” In other words, SAM100 conforms to the construction project and works a section at a time.
SAM vs. Human Masons
As for SAM’s bricklaying skills, the robot uses a different approach to mortaring bricks. “What we do is very different from what a Mason does, we apply the mortar to the brick,” Peters said. “As the robot picks up a brick, it applies the mortar and then places it on the wall.” Armed with two brick feeds, two propane tanks, a brick measuring tool, and a safety wheel, the SAM100 can lay bricks for hours without needing Mason interference.
The onsite setup of SAM is a three step process that involves setting up the hydra mobile track system (takes approximately 30 minutes), setting up measurements to locate windows and control joints, and finally running the system. From there, a tender and Mason load the machine with mortar and bricks – watching the magic take place.
When asked if SAM’s bricklaying production will someday replace Masons, Podkaminer responded by saying, “What SAM does is pick up the bricks, put mortar on them, and then put them all the wall. It still requires a Mason to work alongside it. SAM’s there just to do the heavy lifting.”