Drives & Controls April 2024

n NEWS April 2024 10 A UK START-UP is using robotic microfactories to build a ordable, lowenergy timber homes. London-based AUAR (Automated Architecture) plans to use the robots to tackle skills shortages, boost sustainability, and improve health and safety via a global network of local microfactories which will build energy-e cient, a ordable buildings from sheet timber. AUAR is the brainchild of two architects, Mollie Claypool (CEO) and Gilles Retsin (CTO/chief architect), who have worked for more than 10 years on robotics, automation, construction and architecture. The company has just completed a £2.6m seed round led by the AI fund Miles Ahead, with ABB Robotics & Automation Ventures being among the investors. AUAR believes that its approach tackles many of the challenges facing the building industry, such as supply chain issues, project delivery, quality and skills shortages. Conventional buildings consist of thousands of di erent components shipped from around the world, making it almost impossible to automate their construction. AUAR’s goal is to work with one type of material – wood – and one type of machine, dramatically simplifying the supply chain. The production process uses standard sheets of timber. A robot cuts the sheets into components and assembles them into modules that are transported to site, allowing customised homes to be built in a matter of weeks. While many of the assembly tasks are automated, AUAR’s approach supports local jobs by promoting the use of microfactories close to construction sites, where local contractors and suppliers coordinate delivery. Each factory can be scaled to meet local needs, with the ability to ramp up production by adding more modular robot cells. ABB is supplying the robots for AUAR’s microfactories, while AUAR has developed its own gripper technology. So far, there is one microfactory operating in Belgium and another is planned for the US. AUAR plans to licece its technology to construction —rms. A recent ABB survey of building —rms found that 38% of them see robots as a way of cutting waste. “The increasing capabilities of robots enabled by vision and AI, coupled with their inherent speed, œexibility and consistency, makes them the ideal solution for meeting the growing need for a ordable, high quality, sustainable housing,” says Craig McDonnell, managing director of ABB Robotics’ industries business. “With the focus on the dual needs of building more a ordable homes and minimising the environmental footprint of buildings throughout their lifetime, automated modular construction presents a great opportunity to rethink the way that the buildings are constructed.” UK start-up is using robots to build homes in microfactories SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC HAS LAUNCHED a membership service for its customers to help them with digital transformations by giving them access to expert advice, expedited emergency response SLAs, continuous monitoring, optimised maintenance, and recommendations for enhancing system performance and energy management. The EcoCare service will operate from Schneider’s Connected Services Hub in Warrington. According to Kelly Becker, president of Schneider’s UK & Ireland operation, “members of the EcoCare membership service will bene—t from advanced digital functionalities that deliver real-time insights and drive further reduced downtime, enhanced operational e ectiveness, and improved environmental sustainability”. Schneider says that EcoCare membership will: ncut unplanned downtime by up to 75% through faster response times and 24/7 remote monitoring and alarming; ncut planned downtime by up to 40% using condition-based maintenance, and enabling dynamic maintenance scheduling; and nextend asset lifecycles and reduce carbon emissions. The EcoCare package includes access to: na team of remote and on-site experts; nfaster response times, with spare parts discounts, for improved e ciency and reliability; and ntechnologies that enable digital transformation, and expert recommendations on how to enhance system performance and energy management. There are three levels of EcoCare service ranging from “Essential”, which o ers remote access to experts and 24/7 monitoring and alarming, to “Advanced+”, which includes condition-based maintenance and recommendations for dynamic maintenance. Schneider’s Connected Services Hub in Warrington is part of a global network of hubs to provide access to more than 125 experts around the clock, around a quarter of them being based in the UK. Schneider service will help members to make digital transformations AUAR is using ABB robots to assemble its timber building modules in microfactories Schneider Electric’s EcoCare scheme will use a team of experts based at its Connected Services Hub in Warrington.