WALLTER: ROBOTIC REVOLUTION IN MASONRY
A robotic system for masonry that alleviates manual labour
The technology of masonry has not significantly changed over the last 6,000 years. Now, the sci-fi visions of a robotic workforce are not only coming to life but also becoming a prosperous business. We also developed a brand new business concept of providing masonry as a service.
We have always been used to perceiving masonry as an activity made by people for other people. However, we should rearrange the mental image, as there will be more and more houses built without a single touch of a human hand.
WallTER will build these houses faster with better control over quality and other technical aspects. Using the RobotReady blocks enables easy installation of other building systems such as electricity or plasterboards, reducing both construction time and amount of waste. Human masons will not disappear; most likely, their role would evolve into masonry robot operators, which will simultaneously lower the risk of physical injuries.
Our main contribution
Innovative approaches to building materials or construction technologies are already standard in buildings printed with gigantic 3D printers. We have come up with a novel approach that aims to replace scarce manpower without having to change the traditional natural materials (clay blocks) or the typical proven technologies (masonry). We have developed a robot that requires no more special training than conventional masons. And it works 24/7.
Corporate venture building
In-depth market and industry analysis
Business design & testing
About the project
More than 25% of the European Union's GDP comes from the manufacturing and construction industries—and that figure rises to almost 40% in Central Europe.
Wienerberger, a company with an over two-hundred-year tradition, is the largest producer of building materials worldwide and ranks among the technological leaders in the field. In all that time, their products have been influencing trends in the construction industry, and they have become an inspiration for other manufacturers and professional builders.
The robotic masonry adds further attraction to natural and ecological clay blocks by applying progressive technology and introducing of a new service business model.
The key role in the R&D of this project belongs to the Czech startup KM Robotics, which specialises in developing robotic solutions for the construction industry. KM Robotics also collaborates with the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) at the Czech Technical University and was granted financial support by the Technological Agency of the Czech Republic (TACR).
15 million sqm of walls are built every year just in the Czech Republic. 41% of the largest market segment is built by traditional masoning.
There is a constantly growing shortage of skilled construction workers. The long-lasting decline of masons is up to -4.1% per annum. At the same time, investors tend to pressure workers to shorten the construction phase of development. Without automation and robotics, the construction industry cannot address these challenges.
Not to be threatened by concrete constructions, Wienerberger started looking for an effective solution to the labour shortage. Apart from that, we were asked to bring back the appeal of clay blocks. And yet another goal was to set a new revenue stream for Wienerberger.
In the Czech Republic only, there are nearly 15 million sqm of walls newly built every year. Of that, 47% corresponds to the largest market segment of non-residential buildings (public facilities and industrial buildings). In this segment, only 41% of walls are built by traditional masonry – compared to nearly two-thirds of the overall market.
-4.1% decline in masonry workers per annum.
34% of walls built consist of traditional clay blocks.
With the introduction of robots to the construction site, the safety framework has to be revised, as well as the consideration of the impact of the construction workflow.
The masoning processes need rapid innovation in order to retain the appeal of traditional clay bricks, which accounts for 34% of overall walls built. At the same time, the integrity of the walls must be ensured. The time required for building has to be reduced in order to dramatically reduce the costs of the construction phase while also improving the quality of work.
WallTER is able to lay bricks up to 10 times faster than a human mason with high precision.
The reliability of the robotic system exceeds 98%.
From one position, WallTER can build up to 17 sqm of walls.
The robotic system enables faster, more economical and ecological masonry.
The Robot as a Service (RaaS) and Wall as a Service (WaaS) business models make it possible to transform simple product sales into a more value-added masonry service offering.
The integration of robotic masonry with BIM (Building Information Modelling) has excellent advantages for digital building design.
The use of a masonry robot enables prefabrication of wall segments and a modular construction system.
This also makes the patented RobotReady block optimised for robotic masonry.
The RobotReady block ecosystem enables other producers to utilise a specific design of the RobotReady grooves for the installation of their products.
Significantly increased accessibility, speed, and precision.
The immediate benefit is availability – a single robot WallTER can stand in for ten human masons and works 24/7.
WallTER is the only robotic production system for masonry worldwide. Along with the novel business model service, it transforms traditional masonry. The original design of the patented RobotReady block allows fast and easy installation of other construction systems for added adaptability.
A pre-production prototype of the robotic system is going to be tested on real construction sites in 2023.
Serial production of masonry robots starts in autumn of 2023.
The robotic masoning service will be available from the beginning of 2024 in the Czech Republic, followed by selected European markets.
10 times faster
than a human mason
17 sqm of wall
built from a single position
Our joint innovation could bring about the transformation and modernisation of the entire industry: this robot not only builds walls, it keeps records of finished constructions and is able to transfer them into the digital BIM model of a building, enabling faster installation of fittings and other vital aspects of the building process. The lack of a qualified workforce is no longer an issue that causes a further increase in building costs and total time needed for construction completion.