Today as never before digitalization and automation play an increasingly important role in the construction industry. Construction machines assist people in logistics, transportation, and building, overtaking physical strain from the job. But most importantly, robotics and automation are one of the main solutions to the growing labor shortage problem. Did you know that today 61% of companies in construction and 53% in industry identify labor shortage as one of the major challenges in Germany (Statista, 2019)?
“KEWAZO has a completely new technical approach to meet the challenge of the shortage of skilled workers, while at the same time being able to deploy employees more efficiently and with less stress”, underlines Robert Bassenberg, the CEO of Bassenberg & Schwarting GmbH.
KEWAZO is a startup from Munich that automates construction through robotics and data analytics. The company offers robotic material hoists for construction sites and industrial plants. The first area of application is scaffolding assembly. An intelligent robotic solution Liftbot provides flexible, cost-efficient and safe transportation of scaffolding parts during scaffolding assembly. Liftbot enables automated transport and wireless control. It is not necessary to press the button constantly to operate the robotic system. The system detects the required assembly height, and automatically delivers materials to this level. Liftbot is deliberately compact, completely cable-free, and powered by batteries. It is also very energy efficient: per ton of transported scaffold Liftbot uses only 25 % of the energy that a construction lift needs. All these advantages result in considerable time-savings, improved ergonomics, and significantly increased safety.
KEWAZO has been successfully piloting Liftbot on industrial and construction sites since July 2019. The first projects were conducted in one of the biggest German refineries together with the application partner Bilfinger arnholdt. The customer encourages proactive thinking and innovation with the goal to improve the efficiency on industrial sites. “We have tested Liftbot during ongoing operations and immediately recognised the potential of the solution. With innovative technologies from the fields of robotics and automation, we offer our industrial customers an even safer and more efficient service”, said Alexander Brod, branch manager of Bilfinger arnoholdt in Gelsenkrichen. Through several projects conducted together with Bilfinger arnholdt from July to November, KEWAZO was able to save between 21 – 44 % of working hours. To give an example of Liftbot’s successful implementation, in one of the projects the company has accomplished the workload in 3 days with 3 assemblers instead of 4 days and 4 assemblers. The measurable saving of 44% of working hours, compared to the conventional installation procedure, impressed not only the responsible site manager, but also their end customer.
Liftbot was also successfully tested in construction and shipbuilding industry. In one of the projects in January, where KEWAZO was helping to assemble a stairs tower, Liftbot saved 36 % of working hours in comparison to standard rope-lift. The experienced scaffolders were satisfied with Liftbot’s performance, which helped to save their energy and decrease effort. "I think Liftbot is great because after 18 years of scaffolding I finally don't have to bend down as often," said an employee of Fritsch Gerüstbau.
Together with the company Bassenberg & Schwarting GmbH, KEWAZO has tested the system in the shipbuilding sector for the first time. Liftbot was applied in several big and small projects of the customer at Meyer Werft. Both companies, Bassenberg & Schwarting and Meyer Werft are constantly optimizing their operations, are open to innovations, and recognize the potential of the technology. Together with the application partners, KEWAZO has measured the performance of Lifbot and also here the system was able to save between 30 to 55% of working hours, providing better ergonomics and efficiency.
But economic advantages are not the main factors that KEWAZO sees in the robotic system. The goal of the company is to deliver a “digital worker”, which will help to optimize processes, increase safety, but most importantly help the workers to save energy and to decrease severe physical strain. As the team leader of Bassenberg & Schwarting GmbH states: "After 2 packages of materials the workers get tired; with Liftbot the work continues just as fast". Moreover, his colleague with 30 years of experience adds: "Liftbot is a great system because it transports materials automatically up and down. I only have to load and press a button. The two of us could easily build the scaffolding."
KEWAZO continues its work during the present COVID-19 crisis and provides its customers with all the necessary support on the construction site. As already mentioned by several experts recently, automation and robotics conjunctively represent one of the possible solutions for operations afflicted by said crisis. It is our conviction that robotic systems should support humans in their difficult day-to-day on-site operations.