Publications / 2016 Proceedings of the 33rd ISARC, Auburn, USA

Industrial Timber House Building - Levels of Automation

Djordje Popovic and Mats Winroth
Pages 470-477 (2016 Proceedings of the 33rd ISARC, Auburn, USA, ISBN 978-1-5108-2992-3, ISSN 2413-5844)

Swedish industrial timber house building faces a constantly increasing housing demand. In order to respond to the demand, companies in this sector, have to improve their businesses in terms of productivity. At the same time, they need to meet customer requirements, i.e., offering flexible building solutions, thus creating a balance between productivity and flexibility. Off-site assembly of exterior walls is an essential part of the house production, and cutting down lead times at this phase hence, increases the competitiveness. If introduced in a right way, automation can contribute to a higher productivity. Thus, right levels of both physical and cognitive automation are necessary. The objective of this study is to measure the current levels of automation (LoA) within the off-site exterior wall assembly. Research design consisted of a literature study and a case study that was conducted at a Swedish company that is an engineer-to-order producer of single-family timber houses. A case study design was made according to the DYNAMO ++ framework. The framework was used in the assessment of LoA and designing flexible task allocation in many manufacturing industries, but there is a lack of knowledge on how to use this method in the industrial timber house building. The average physical and cognitive LoA of 124 identified tasks are 3 and 1 respectively. Increased physical and cognitive LoA for critical tasks would enable flexible task allocation between human operators and technology. It is believed that this type of flexibility can result in less production disturbances and higher productivity when a high variety of exterior walls is assembled.

Keywords: Physical and cognitive levels of automation, hierarchical task analysis, exterior wall, single-family timber house, off-site assembly.