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Video: The Future of Fully Automated Spray Robots

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2019

By John Davidson, SprayWorks Equipment Group


PAVING THE WAY FOR SPRAY-APPLIED MEMBRANES, OVERLAYS, FRICTION SURFACING

The concept of utilizing automated robots to speed up production or ensure consistency is a tried endeavor for many innovators. From the Industrial Age into the Information Age, innovative uses of machines on production lines have provided the means to meet or exceed production goals and demand. Machine automation has been shown to improve quality, surpass labor limitations and achieve an enhanced safety or regulatory condition.

With the ever-increasing cost of construction, efforts are continually focused on safety, production and stewardship to assure lasting performance. Advancements of machine automation have made project completion safer, faster and higher in quality – at rates rarely achieved through manual processes.


The early model gantry-style Spraybot was a pioneer for plural-component robotic applications, designed to fabricate polyurea liningsPHOTOS COURTESY OF SPRAYWORKS EQUIPMENT GROUP

MAXIMIZING PRODUCTION CAPACITY

The idea to automate application of paint, coatings and various finishes is almost as old as the invention of the products themselves. As the machines that process these finishes evolved, so too did the chemistry — causing the equipment to be quickly outdated.

Installing protective layers typically requires a trained and highly skilled mechanic, but when the success of the production hinges on the overall physical performance of an individual, application can become inconsistent and inaccurate over time. Choosing not to use robotic automation denies customers potential efficiencies in cost, time and production and may have its own set of far-reaching consequences.

INCONSISTENCIES WITH SPRAY-APPLIED LIQUIDS

With spray-applied liquids, an emphasis is always placed on achieving the most uniform and monolithic application. The most common application methods are manual. For some, the integration of semi-automated machines has sped up installation times and improved overall quality. However, semi-automation generally limits the equipment output to worker output. Spray robots can be designed for longevity and consistent application. Elevating equipment to spray robots makes it possible to handle increased outputs while at the same time streamlining installation mechanics. As a result, less labor and skill are required for the physical process, allowing those skills to be placed on areas that require human interaction. 


Safe and Sound 554 was a Missouri project in 2012, making use of the Spraybot.

WHY SPRAY ROBOTS WORK

Limiting start-and-stops, spanning further distances and improving processing parameters all contribute to more efficient production and overall outcomes. With spray robot platforms, repetitive procedures are easily replicated. Additional hardware can provide critical data reporting or identify complications associated with in-process conditions for improved quality and control assurances. (Read: “How Automatic Spray-Applied Coatings Saved.a Nashville Project Deadline.”)Tennessee's Fast Fix 8 project used three Spraybots to complete 45,000 square feet of Versa-Flex in 48 hours.

THE FUTURE OF SPRAY ROBOTS

What happens to infrastructure when:

  • Time of infrastructure service is extended,
  • Life cycle maintenance is decreased,
  • Construction time is reduced, and
  • Environmental impacts are minimized?

Where robotic automation has been utilized, it has proven to add longevity and enhanced overall performance — in addition to increasing yield by 10% or more. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. The product approval process alone can take years. Finding opportunities to apply new processes takes even longer, but we have learned that spray robots provide substantial leverage, with the ability to apply advanced chemistries by means of controlled installation processes.


The High Friction Surfacing robot was developed in 2017 for displacing bauxite agregate.

Since spray robots were introduced, advances in design and project capacity have allowed for the application of multiple coats using automation, eliminating concerns about recoat times. Moving forward, additional processes, such as air lancing, and other preparation requirements will happen. The converging, spreading or broadcasting of aggregates and mediums, without the confusion of multiple set-ups and handling of different materials and equipment, are under development or currently in use. Research in optics and sensing technology are providing critical developments for the future use of artificial intelligence gathering and keeping the process in strict accordance with manufacturing guidelines.

Click to learn more about spray robots and how they are currently in use in the construction industry.

Watch the Coaterbot precision spray robot applicator, used for both single- and plural-component applications, in action:

Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, PaintSquare or its editors.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Davidson, SprayWorks Equipment Group

John Davidson, vice president of operations at SprayWorks Equipment Group, is an SPFA PCP-certified roofing and insulation installer. With more than 25 years of experience in the spray foam and polyurea industry, John brings a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience to the company. He has worked on commercial and residential buildings, bridges and infrastructure and now works strategically on custom robotic applications and government projects.

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