In the field of circulation technology, automation is advancing in an entirely new area of application – bending and laying pipes for precast concrete elements with activated concrete core. The “Tube Master” pipe-laying robot was newly developed and installed at leading Austrian market player Mischek Systembau GmbH by Progress Maschinen & Automation, a company of the Progress Group. It has already exceeded the specified output goals after only a short period of operation.
Why prefabrication is becoming increasingly important
As the company’s name, “Systembau” (system construction), suggests, Mischek aims to offer the highest level of quality, deadline and cost reliability in project realization. Quality-controlled implementation according to schedule is ensured by prefabricated concrete elements. The company is convinced that prefabrication is a solution to two challenges: ongoing urbanization and the acute shortage of skilled labor.
Urbanization is driving a growing need for affordable housing. Industrial prefabrication also has fewer construction-related impacts, creating less noise, dirt and disruptions to traffic. On the other hand, an increasing shortage of skilled labor is causing problems for many companies and points in the direction of prefabricated system construction.
Automated laying of pipes makes sense
The shortage of skilled labor is increasingly pushing companies toward automated processes. In addition, automation is intended to allow more efficient production both at the plant and on the construction site, for example, by reducing construction periods or disentangling different work sections.
Since the demand for structural components with activated concrete core kept growing over time in projects of Vienna’s building construction sector, Mischek began installing the heating and cooling hoses in floor slabs in a manual process. It was soon no longer possible, however, to achieve the quality and required speed in production with manual pipe installation. The combination of growing demand and limited production capacity drove the company’s investment decision.
Newly developed Tube Master – in operation for the first time in Gerasdorf
The automatic laying process minimizes the risk of sharp bends and potential damage to the hose/pipe, which occurs quite frequently during manual installation. Accurate positioning of the pipes when placing them on the pallet requires only minimum rework, such as fastening the pipe on the pallet, therefore enabling significantly higher process speeds at lower labor costs. The product can be tested by means of simulations even prior to the start of production, and adjustments can be made where necessary, which avoids creating waste. In addition, the precast concrete elements fitted with the cooling and heating pipes are more energy-efficient, have a high heat-storage capacity and require very low flow temperatures due to their size.
“Aside from the fact that the Tube Master was unique for a precast concrete plant at the time, it was also important to us that the new robot could be integrated into an existing circulation system for semi-finished precast concrete components – while production continued and with minimum disruptions to the same,” says BM.DI. (FH) Mathias Tabor, technical division manager and managing director at Mischek Systembau.
The Tube Master is currently running a 3-shift operation from Sunday, 10 pm, to Friday, 10 pm, with a daily output of up to 300 m². The specified output goals were far exceeded even in the first full year of production. The company’s order books are full well into the fall.
Progress Group –the right partner for the new development
The existing circulation system had already been supplied by the Progress Group, and Progress was the company most relied on by those in charge at Mischek to have the expertise needed to implement the technical challenges of this prototype system within the shortest possible time and within the specified budget – and with the well-known reliability and quality standards. The mission of the Progress Group is to create better living conditions for people on a sustainable basis. The corporate group specializes in machines and software for the automation of precast concrete production and operates its own precast concrete plant at the company headquarters in Brixen.
“In short, Progress is just fantastic,” adds managing director Tabor in this statement on the successful partnership. “The company stands out because of its excellent personnel, decades of experience, knowledge and expertise, and because of the trustworthiness of everyone involved.”