Last week, a few of our employees were invited to present at the prestigious KPF Tech Week.

Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) is a unified architectural practice focused on the design of buildings of all types and scales. They are an award wining firm with much experience in designing well-crafted, sustainable, and impactful buildings in a vast array of geographic regions. KPF’s Tech Week is a week-long event dedicated to the exploration and discussion of ideas, tools and knowledge regarding innovations and technology in the architectural industry.

We collaborated with Justin Griffin, Business Development Manager at Universal Robots, on a presentation about how collaborative robot (cobot) technology is deployed in the architectural field. Doing a joint presentation with Justin was interesting because it was more like a conversation than just following a slide deck.

One of the challenges the architectural firms face is that each project proposes unique variables. We talked about the UR+ ecosystem as a way to build upon the cobot as new applications arise. The UR+ program is an ecosystem of 3rd party end-effector solutions and other add-ons; UR certifies these products to work with the UR cobot. Customers are able to download the application right onto their teach pendant to control these 3rd party devices.

For example: if a customer has a sanding application, they can purchase a Sanding Kit from a UR+ vendor and teach their cobot to sand a curved piece of wood by only setting 6 waypoints. Once that project is complete, they may have a need for a screwdriving application. They can then swap the Sanding Kit attachment with a Screwdriving attachment and change the program of the cobot to automate this new process.

Another interesting part of the presentation was a case study from the Autodesk Robotics Lab in San Francisco, CA, where Universal Robots are used in research projects that explore new ways to automate the Construction industry. The projects span human/robot interactions, machine learning, and smart assembly systems.

After that, our Industrial Automation Application Engineer Karthik Rangarajan did a demo showing how to program the UR using free drive. This enables a user to push a button on the back of the teach pendant, and freely move the arm by hand to the desired location, with the ability to store that position as a waypoint. He reviewed some of the different types of movements, including a joint move, a linear move and a process move. The architects often find themselves working first at their desks, and Karthik showed them how to program the robot remotely from a computer.

Justin had some interesting examples of various processes used in fabrication – he showed how to tend machines with the UR robot and how to feed metal bending machines to accomplish multiple bends. Alongside this, there was a video displaying a complete solution for welding provided by Vectis Automation, one of UR’s partners. Architects are also interested in transferring technology to construction sites, and we discussed applications of collaborative robots for construction, including combining vision with the cobot to mark and punch holes in sheet rock.

Lastly, we discussed mobile platforms and adding a 7th-axis to extend the range that the cobot can cover, which is especially important for construction projects. We ended the meeting by telling the architects the wide range of companies under the Power-Flo Technologies umbrella. With our sister companies, we are able to provide LED lighting upgrades, electrical supplies, switchgears, pump and motor repairs and panel building just to name a few things! One of our divisions, US Energy, partners with building owners to reduce energy costs and minimize the risk of unexpected expenses – today we serve more than 3,600 buildings with over 147 million square feet of space and 100 thousand occupants.

This experience was interactive and a creative journey as we uncovered many possibilities to automate the Construction industry. Tech Week was an amazing experience, and we hope to participate in future endeavors with KPF!

Cynthia Kradjel

Account Manager

Axis NJ, is a high-tech distributor. We specialize in automation, drives, motion control, machine vision, machine safety and robots. Our staff of specialists are available to assist you with projects of any scale. Our headquarters is in Somerville, NJ and branch office in Long Island. Axis has been covering Metro NY and New Jersey for over 30 years.