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Liftbot, help at height

Published 1.11.2022

The latest development to join the roster of Techint E&C's innovation tools is Liftbot, an autonomous lifting device for scaffolding, optimizing assembly times and contributing to worker safety.

Liftbot is an intelligent robotic hoist designed to assist with scaffolding, making processes safer and more efficient during assembly and disassembly activities. Developed by the German start up Kewazo, the equipment can be operated remotely and is empowered by a data analytics platform in the cloud.

Liftbot is just another example of the synergy achieved by the Innovation and Knowledge Management department. Over the years, the company has amassed many learnings and findings from events occurring at projects involving scaffolding tasks. These prompted the search for market solutions able to respond to our "pain points," according to Alejandro Aguirre, Head of Innovation and Knowledge Management.

Thanks to Liftbot, the scaffolding materials can be transferred between different levels independently, raised and lowered on the hoist, thus avoiding traditional manhandling by employees, and leading to greater safety and ergonomic improvements.

A group of employees from Techint E&C's Northern Area had the chance to see the robot in action when they visited the site for the remodeling of a Municipal building facade in the State of Nevada, in the United States. They were able to observe first-hand the full array of advantages afforded by this technology.

Liftbot and its benefits:

> Ease of installation. It can be moved from one position to another in under 30 minutes, making it highly versatile.

> It significantly reduces (by some 40%) the number of people needed to assemble and disassemble scaffolding.

> The device is very simply to operate and the technology is very accessible, making it extremely dynamic and reliable in terms of safety, one of the key points for use at height.

> Using the hoist reduces the risks of falling objects, blows, overexertion, etc.

> The device has a range of load sensors, alarms, displays, etc., making it easy to operate and understand, and it can be operated remotely.

> It runs on batteries and is portable, for cleaner and safer operations.

> The device is integrated with a platform in the cloud for users to access all kinds of reports (operating times, transported load, stops, etc.) in real time or later, when the equipment updates the network.

> Liftbot currently has a load capacity of up to 100 kg, but the supplier is working to increase this to meet specific client demands.

“Another key point is how Liftbot helps to increase productivity at the activities. As it’s a robotic device, it doesn’t get tired, and the activity of lifting scaffolding materials between different levels, which usually involves the entire work team, reduces the number of people involved to two or three,” explained Andrew B, Operations Management Assistant.

Arely Acevedo, who’s a referent working in Innovation and Knowledge Management in the Northern Area, adds that, “We worked with the Budget and operations team to compare the data about the savings obtained using this technology for the piping phase. The results revealed that we could achieve significant savings by acquiring the device, however, we had to check that the percentage of the reduction in labor-hours promised by Kewazo was actually 40%. So we carried out this site visit with the support of an operations expert to evaluate the LIFTBOT’s performance first-hand.”

According to the studies carried out, “if we assembled a multi-level scaffolding structure, we could achieve an approximate reduction of 40% in our operations management costs. There’s no doubt that this is a great solution for future projects where we need to erect scaffolding for construction work,” explains Lázaro Bertorello, Electromechanical Superintendent. “In fact, if we’d used the Liftbot when we were building the eight towers at the Dos Bocas Refinery in Mexico, we would have reduced our labor-hour tally by 39%, as Liftbot would have dovetailed perfectly with the type of scaffolding used.” Lázaro adds that, “In financial terms, we would have saved over USD 35,000, representing 23% of the purchase cost of the equipment.”

Liftbot is very easy to install, which, together with its technology and remote operability, make it completely safe to use, reducing the number of hours of critical work at height and improving safety-related statistics.

The analysis is now complete: the next steps envisage rolling out a series of pilot projects at different projects where the tool can be put into action. Without a doubt, the Liftbot is about to join our scaffolding crews as a key member of the team!

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