Robotics solution to bridge coating with polyurea
Murphy Mahaffey, director of international sales at Polyurethane Machinery Corporation (PMC), outlined his company’s capability in bridge waterproofing. According to Mahaffey, more than 220 bridges had already been waterproofed with his company’s Spraybot.
He also said the machine was capable of spraying an area of 280m2 in one day. He added that if the same job were to be carried out by a human they would have to complete two runs for each pass that the robot makes.The machine runs for eight hours on 3.8 litres fuel, said Mahaffey.
Not only is the technology adaptable, sales of the machines are going to many more environments, Mahaffey added. The company is also developing vertical applications based on the technology which will mean that a Spraybot could be used to coat the inside of water treatment work tanks or walls.
Mahaffey claims that contractors are experiencing 10% higher material efficiency when they use robotic machinery to polyurea spray coat substrates compared to using humans.
The mechanical process provides a more “consistent, even application of material” than humans are capable of, Mahaffey said. “Because they are affected by more variables, the same jobs carried out by a human workforce will more likely return variations of the end product,” according to Mahaffey.
“Lastly,” added Mahaffey, “with a robotic process the material is applied to the surface evenly, whether it’s a rise or a valley. The knock on effect, he said, is a minimisation of overspray.
Bridge waterproofing – a Euro-conundrum
Also on bridges, Dirk Uebelhoer’s presentation he explained the industry’s frustration at the apparent impossibility of imposing uniformity on European states’ requirements for carrying out bridge waterproofing work.
The Sika corporate systems engineer said the UK and Germany had expressed their dissatisfaction with the standards drawn up by EU working group members trying to devise a uniform standard for bridge waterproofing. The problem had not been resolved, he added.
Uebelhoer said international engineers were still unsure what they should specify. Businesses had handed over cash to undertake tests, applied for certificates but still there was no harmonisation.
Uebelhoer joked that a uniformed approach to standards for bridge waterproofing remained a dream and that it was something he would not see before his retirement. Uebelhoer feels it will be 2039 before harmonisation on standards for polyurea would emerge from the EU. The end result, he said, is that “innovation is blocked.”