Problem

Construction projects involve tedious, frequent, time consuming and sometimes dangerous activities, such as building cleaning and painting, particularly in high height, inclined surfaces, and confined spaces.

A typical building needs to be cleaned once to four times a year, whereas it requires repainting every five to ten years.

Problems associated with the manual solutions

Most of glass/facade cleaning and wall painting in tall buildings are currently performed manually. The manual solutions include the use of telescopic booms, hanging craddles/gondolas, and rope access. These manual solutions have several drawbacks including:

Cost – The use of manual solutions involves a good number of workers. At least two or three workers should work side by side to perform the tasks. To accelerate the work, more workers are commonly involved; this increases the cost significantly.

Efficiency – The speed of human workers in completing the tasks cannot be much boosted due to the limitations of the human being capability.

Unfeasibility in windy condition – When the wind is strong, either because of the weather condition or the altitude of a building, manual solution is typically unfeasible. This affects the timeframe to complete the job.

Safety – Although the recent safety standards already make the manual solutions much safer than those in the past, potential accidents to human workers still exist. This is inherent due to the direct involvement of human workers in the tasks.

Why the existing automated/robotized solutions do not really work?

A few automated or robotized solutions have been deployed to the market. However, most people still prefer the manual solutions. Some of the reasons include the following:

Lack of adaptation capability – The existing automated/robotized solutions typically can only be used in quite specific settings, such as considerably flat surface (zero or low protrusions on the building surface). In fact, quite many buildings have significantly thick protrusions on their exterior surfaces. Furthermore, some building also have some exterior features that are difficult to be reached by the existing automated/robotized solutions.

Low loading capability – In some cases, deep cleaning is needed. For example, in post-construction cleaning. Such a type of cleaning requires high load capability to remove post-construction residues. Most existing cleaning robots do not have capability to perform this task.

High capital cost – Many robotized solutions are offered with a high price tag. This makes the robotized solutions not really competitive against the manual solutions.

Limited reach – In wall painting, a good number of existing robotized solutions can only be used for interior painting. Such solutions typically use a ground vehicle with an extensible arm. The arm can only be extended to a few meters. Such robots cannot be conveniently used to paint the exterior walls, particularly at a high altitude.