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Join SPCEET as Dr. Eric Wetzel shares his latest research in applied robotics! Light refreshments will be provided. 


Inventory management plays a vital role during the construction phase of a project (Cai et al. 2074). An accurate and up-to-date inventory of the materials, humans, and equipment on site allows for a project management team to ensure deliveries are made on time, invoices are correct, humans are accounted for, and stored materials can be billed to pay applications. Ideally, this creates an environment that promotes efficient workflow and high productivity. The construction environment, however, is complex and in a constant state of change throughout the entirety of a project's life cycle. These conditions make it difficult to keep an up-to-date inventory without dedicating significant resources to tracking and documentation (Cai et al. 2074). This is often executed by field staff through daily reports, delivery tickets, stored material and percent complete reviews, and timecards. All of which are labor intensive for an already strained staff.

In addition, the construction industry is dealing with an unprecedented skilled and management labor shortage. According to a survey of over 7,000 construction firms conducted by Associated General Contractors (2022}, 80% of firms are having a hard time filling salary and craft positions, with 69% of the surveyed firms looking to increase their headcount. This lack of available labor has serious consequences to construction cost, scheduling, quality, worker morale, and safety, among others. The trend of difficulty in hiring within the industry is not new and does not appear to be subsiding. It is generally believed among the industry that a single solution to the problem isn't feasible, rather a multi-faceted approach is needed. In addition to immigration policy reform and adoption of different means and methods, the deployment of significantly more automation, including robotics, must play a role. Our research looks to ease the labor-intensive nature of on-site inventory management with an autonomous, quadruped robot equipped with a RFID payload, a phase localization algorithm, and a form of SLAM (simultaneous location and mapping) known as RTAB_map (real-time appearance-based mapping). In addition to our research, this presentation will present the current state of construction robotics and a demonstration with "Mac", the McWhorter School of Building Science's Boston Dynamics Spot. 

Speaker Bio

Dr. Eric Wetzel is an Associate Professor and director of the Applied Robotics in Construction Lab (ARIC} in the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University. His research focus is on robotics in construction, specifically in semi and fully- autonomous systems for onsite data collection. He has given national and state-level keynotes on robotics, published several papers, and has partnered with large companies and government entities including Hyundai Motors, Brasfiled and Corrie, Maxwell Air Force base, and Hexagon PPM. Dr. Wetzel holds a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. Outside of academia, he is the principal for Wetzel Consulting, LLC and does part time work with Carollo Engineers. 

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