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Automating stone cutting

Ross Horrigan, Technical Director, Loop Technology Ltd.

In collaboration with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Loop Technology has developed a robotic paving unit cutting process which improves the efficiency and speed of paving cutting in town centres.

Example of drain covers which require paving to be fit around these complex shapes.
Example of drain covers which require paving to be fit around these complex shapes.

Growing demand for pedestrianisation has led to urban environments in the UK needing new paved areas. To cut stone paving which fits within set boundaries or around common street objects, pavers cut stone blocks to shape manually on site. The chief concerns with this method are the environmental impacts of noise pollution, slurry runoff and waste from stone offcuts.

Ross Horrigan’s team have launched the IntelliPave project which addresses these problems by moving the cutting to an automated facility where noise, waste, and offcuts can be managed and recycled. The enabling technology is the integration of light detection and ranging (LiDAR) into consumer mobile devices, which has enabled the development of an app the pavers can use to generate miniature site surveys of the final paving design. This data can then be sent to the facility and used to automate the cutting of blocks.

The application of data collection and use of cutting automation on stone is new to the construction industry, but will lead to benefits in use of materials, logistics and impact on the environment.

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