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Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PRODUCTION AND HANDLING OF PREFABRICATED BUILDING ELEMENTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/120145
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
In a method for producing and handling building elements (1), for instance floor or wall elements, use is made of a system which includes two wheeled supporting members (8,9), a guiding element (11), intermediate and wheeled supporting devices (10) and means (19) for rotation of the building element (1).

Inventors:
PALMÉR, Ulrica (Nobelvägen 51, Malmö, S-214 33, SE)
Application Number:
SE2009/050322
Publication Date:
October 01, 2009
Filing Date:
March 26, 2009
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
PALMÉR, Ulrica (Nobelvägen 51, Malmö, S-214 33, SE)
International Classes:
B28B15/00; B23Q7/16
Foreign References:
US7172064B22007-02-06
EP0439399A11991-07-31
FR2590516A11987-05-29
US6000192A1999-12-14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JÖRGENSSON, Leif (P O Box 4188, Malmö, S-203 13, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A method of producing and handling a building element (1), wherein the building element (1) comprises a first (2) and a second (3) end member, a first (4) and a second (5) side member and at least one intermediate member (6), and wherein the method comprises the steps of:

a. providing at least the end members (2, 3) with second reference means (18) for horizontal, vertical and angular positioning,

b. positioning a first main support device (8) in a guided position,

c. positioning a first end member (2) on the first main support device (8) with first reference means (811 1, 8112) of the first main support device (8) interacting with corresponding second reference means (18) of the first end member (2) for defining the position and rotation of the first end member (2),

d. attaching one or more intermediate support devices (10) to the first and second side members (4 and 5), e. letting the first side member (4) rest on one or more thereto attached intermediate support devices (10) while attaching one end of the first side member (4) to a corresponding end of the first end member (2), and letting the second side member (5) rest on the in- termediate support devices (10) while attaching one end of the second side member (5) to a corresponding end of the first end member (2),

f. positioning a second main support device (9) in a guided position between the side members (4, 5), g. positioning an intermediate member (6) on the second main support device (9) with the second reference means (18) of the intermediate member (6) interacting with corresponding first reference means (811) on the second main support device (9) for mutually defining a position of the intermediate member (6),

h. positioning the intermediate member (6) in its correct assembly position with the help of the second main support device,

i. attaching the intermediate member (6) to the side members (4, 5),

j. repeating steps g, h and i until all intermediate members (6) are fas- tened to the side members (4, 5), k. positioning the second end member (3) on the second main support device (9) with the reference means (18) of the second end member (3) interacting with corresponding first reference means (81 1) on the second main support device (9) for mutually defining a position of the second end member (3),

1. positioning the second end member (3) in its correct assembly position with the help of the second main support device (9), and

m. attaching the second end member (3) to the side members (4, 5).

2. A method according to claim 1 , further comprising using additional anti- twist device (16) for keeping the side members from twisting and falling over during assembly.

3. A system for performing the method of claim 1 or 2, comprising a plurality of support devices for handling of the members of the building element, characterized in that the system comprises first and second moveable main sup- port devices (8, 9) provided with: a. guide means (821) for guiding of the main support devices (8, 9) through interaction with one or more guide paths (11),

b. wherein the system further comprises one or more moveable intermediate support devices (10) attached to the side members for moveably supporting the side members (4, 5) in at least a vertical direction.

4. A system according to claim 3 wherein the main support devices are provided with first reference means 811 for providing a horizontal, a vertical and an

angular reference for interaction with corresponding second reference means 18 provided on the end members (2, 3).

5. A system according to claim 3 or 4, further comprising a rotation support frame (19) for placing around the building element (1) to stabilize the building element (1) during rotation, after the end and side members (2, 3, 4, 5) have been attached.

6. A system according to claim 3, 4 or 5, further comprising one or more hinge devices (15) positioned with a rotational axis (153) parallel to one of the side members (4, 5) for establishing a rotational axis (153) around which the building element (1) may be controllably rotated.

Description:

SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PRODUCTION AND HANDLING OF PREFABRICATED BUILDING ELEMENTS

Field of the invention

The present invention relates to a system and a method for production and handling of prefabricated building elements, such as floors and walls.

Background of the invention

Constructing buildings often incorporates a lot of manual assembly operations at the construction site. Traditionally, individual pieces of building material, such as joists, plasterboards, etc. are transported to a construction site and piece by piece assembled to construct a building. Modern building technology suggests that standardised construction designs should be used in order to achieve economy of scale. Typically, standardized building designs make use of prefabricated building elements, such as floors, walls and roof frames. These building elements are manufactured off site in designated factories and then transported by road on trucks to the construction site where they are finally assembled to the rest of the construction.

Off site prefabrication of building elements makes it possible to use stationary equipment and specialized production lines for increasing the production efficiency. Prefabricated building elements are typically large and heavy structures made of wood or steel. A common wooden floor element may for example measure 13x4x0.5 m and weigh about 1800 kgs. Typically, a prefabricated floor or wall has a rectangular parallelepiped outer shape and comprises two parallel side members interconnected by intermediate members and on their ends attached to two parallel end members. The frame members are typically wooden joists or wooden I-beams made of joists and Masonite® or plywood.

The large dimensions and considerable weight of a typical building element make it difficult to handle the element and its respective members in the factory during and after assembly. There are many alternative ways in which members of a typical building element can be positioned relatively each other. Different buildings require building elements of varying dimensions with varying configurations as to where to place windows, doors, ventilation systems, cables, insulation etc.

Current technology for prefabrication of building elements make use of semi-automated production lines. US 7 172 064 B2 presents a device for feeding a planar section, e.g. a wall element, in relation to one or more working stations, e.g. nailing and/or hole making stations, the planar section having an upper por- tion and a lower portion and intermediate pieces interconnecting the upper portion with the lower portion, a first conveyor being intended for the upper portion or the lower portion, a second conveyor being intended for the other portion, extending in parallel with the first conveyor and being switchable for increasing or decreasing the distance between the conveyors and both of the conveyors being disposed to cooperate with carriers displaceable therealong for displacement of the portions along the conveyors.

The device according to US 7 172 064 B2 is intended for fixed installation in a production facility. A major drawback of fixed installations is that they occupy a lot of floor space. When varying the build height of a building element (such as the depth of a wall or a floor), the machinery must, if possible, be adjusted to accommodate for the changed dimensions and any assembly stations, such as nailing stations, must, if possible, be adjusted accordingly.

When performing manual operations for enabling performing manual op- erations, such as installing cables, adding floor- or wall surface materials, adding insulation, attaching windows, doors, radiators etc, it is important to be able to easily reach across the building element. Complex assembly lines, such as those depicted in US 7 172 064 B2, make it difficult to reach various parts of the building element. In order to provide better reach of various parts of the building element the building element can be rotated. A common way of rotating a building element during production is to slide it into a tilting station with a tilting table and a receiving table. Such an arrangement for rotating a building element is very expensive and often occupies the floor area of at least two building elements. Thus, a further drawback with common technology is that it is complicated to rotate the building element.

Prefabricated building elements which are produced off site have to be transported between the factory and the final construction site. Thus, they often have to fit on truck trailers and comply with the maximum dimensions of those trailers. Off-site prefabrication thereby limits the design of buildings that use

these prefabricated building elements. Further, the transports are often long and incur substantial cost and negative environmental impact.

Sometimes, especially in the case of construction projects involving mass production of type houses, it would be advantageous to be able to change from off-site to on-site production of building elements. However, since common assembly lines are often very complex, they are to be considered stationary and cannot easily be moved to, and installed and used on a specific construction site. Further, the systems are very expensive to buy and to install.

Hence, an improved method and system for producing and handling a building element would be advantageous. In particular a method and system that: enables effective and precise production of prefabricated building elements, is inexpensive to produce and install, is flexible as to what dimensions and configurations of building elements that may be produced and handled, enables easy rotation of the building element, requires only a minimum of fixed installations for the system, requires only a minimum of floor space for the system, enables easy reach of various parts of the building element during pro- duction, and enables the system to relatively easily be moved to, and installed and used on a specific construction site.

Summary of the invention

The object of the present invention is to realise an improved system and method to obviate or reduce the drawbacks inherent in prior art devices.

The system preferably comprises two jigs on wheels, a guide path, a plurality of intermediate support devices with wheels, and one or more device for easy rotation of the building element. The method of assembly incorporates using the jigs and support devices for supporting and positioning joists and other mem- bers of the building element. The guide path provides a reference axis that the jigs may be guided along for precise positioning of the various members of the building element during assembly.

The present invention has the advantages over prior art in that the system:

is inexpensive to manufacture, is inexpensive to move to and install on new locations, has large flexibility as to what dimensions and configurations of building elements that may be produced and handled with the system, requires only a minimum of floor space for the system when in use, enables any floor surface used by the system to easily be made available for other uses, and enables easy reach of most parts of the building element.

Brief description of Drawings Fig. 1 is a perspective view of most parts of a system according to the invention for producing a building element.

Fig. 2 is a perspective view of a main support member according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 3 is a perspective view of a rotation support frame fram according to the invention.

Fig. 4 is a perspective view of an intermediate support member according to the invention.

Fig. 5 is a perspective view of an intermediate support member according to the invention, provided with an anti- twist device. Fig. 6 is a perspective view of an intermediate support member according to the invention, provided with a side wheel.

Fig. 7 is a perspective view of a hinge means according to the invention.

Fig. 8 is a short side view of a part of a building element with an attached intermediate support member provided with a guide means for guiding for example a plaster board into its correct assembly position on the building element.

Fig. 9 is an isometric view of the guide means shown in Fig. 8.

Fig. 10 is a side view of the guide means shown in Fig. 8.

Fig. 11 is a bottom view of the guide means shown in Fig. 8.

Detailed description of Embodiments

According to one embodiment of the present invention, a method and system for production and handling of a prefabricated building element is provided. The building element 1 comprises first and second end members 2, 3, first

and second side members 4, 5, a plurality of intermediate members 6 and surface members 7. The system comprises first and second main support devices 8, 9, a plurality of intermediate support devices 10 and a guide path 11.

The first and second main support devices share the same design idea, hence only one of the main support devices will be described below.

The first main support device 8 is preferably shaped as a beam structure with one horizontal load carrying body 81 at each end provided with a load- carrying wheel 812 for supporting the main support device 8 and its load on a planar surface or on rails. Further, the first main support device 8 is provided with a stabilizing body 82 for stabilizing the load carrying body 81 , and with a guide device 821 for interaction with the guide path 11.

The load-carrying body is provided with first reference means 811 for interaction with a corresponding second reference means 18 provided on the end members 2, 3 and on the intermediate members 6. The first reference means 811 preferably comprises a protrusion 8111, which is vertically adjustable and which is arranged for protruding into the corresponding second reference means, and one or more co-planar support surfaces 8112. The co-planar support surface is preferably arranged to be perpendicular to a longitudinal guide axis defined by the guide device 821 , along which axis the main support members may be guided. The second reference means is preferably a hole, which is centrally positioned on the undermost side of each end member 2, 3 or intermediate member 6. By arranging the hole centrally it is possible to balance the end member 2, 3 or intermediate member 6 on top of the first reference means 811 for defining an exact centre position of said member. Wood is a living material and no 100% straight elements exist. Hence, some minor manual adjustments, bending and shaking might have to be done during assembly of the building element 1. Hence, during assembly it is of great value to have the member 2, 3, 6 balanced on top of the first reference means 811 of the first 2 or second 3 support device, so that the member 2, 3, 6 is known to be parallel to and in line with other members of the building element. Also, the protrusion 8111 of the first reference means 811 is retractable for enabling easy separation of the main support device 8, 9 and the end 2,3 or intermediate 6 member it carries, and for enabling support of members of varying size. The dimension of the main support device 8, 9 and the positioning of the first and second reference means 811, 18 is chosen to allow small as

well as large end- and intermediate members to be attached and correctly positioned.

The guide path 11 is preferably a straight groove in a planar concrete surface, but could also be arranged in the form of one or more rails in or on said sur- face. By using a groove of small width, preferably about 5 mm, the floor of the production facility is left substantially planar, so that vehicles and people can move freely over the whole floor area.

Instead of supporting the main and intermediate support members 8, 9, 10 on a planar surface, two or more parallel horizontal rails could be used for supporting them. The use of rails could prove especially useful when a planar surface is not present, such as when producing building elements on a construction site with uneven terrain.

The guide device 821 preferably comprises two steel discs 822. The discs 822 preferably have a diameter of about 100 mm and a width at their periphery of about 5 mm. The discs 822 are co-linearly arranged and adapted to fit with, and precisely steer along the guide path 11. Alternatively, the guide device 821 could also comprise steel pins adapted fit with the guide path 11.

Further, the main support device is equipped with a distance measuring device, such as a laser device or a mechanical roller or a tape, for measuring a travelled distance in order to make it easier to position the end and intermediate members at correct distances from other end and intermediate members.

The main support devices may also be equipped with a quick release brake for enabling positioning and attachment of the end and intermediate members without having to manually hold the main support device in correct position. The quick release brake is of a standard type and preferably stops the load-carrying wheels from rotating.

The intermediate support devices 10 are provided for supporting the side members 4, 5. Each intermediate support device 10 comprises a base member 101 and a first and a second extension member 102, 103. The extension members are preferably provided with wheels 104, but could also be provided with guide means 105 for guiding and positioning board pieces, such as plasterboard, during assembly of the building element 1.

The base member 101 is preferably a square pipe with a wall thickness of 5 mm and a cross section of about 70x70 mm. One side of the square pipe is pro- vided with a steel plate 106 for supporting the intermediate support device on one

of the side members 4, 5. The steel plate has a thickness of about 20 mm and outer dimensions of about 200x300 mm. The steel plate 106 is provided with third reference means 12 for providing a horizontal, a vertical and an angular reference for interaction with corresponding fourth reference means 13 provided on the side members 4, 5.

Any wheels 104 attached to the extension members 10 are preferably of swivel caster type and may be direction-locked in lengthwise or crosswise direction. The wheels are preferably polyurethane wheels with a diameter of about 150 mm and a thickness of about 40 mm, but could be of varying dimension and ma- terial for enabling transportation of a building element on various surfaces, such as concrete floors, asphalt roads, gravel yards etc. Several sets of wheels may be provided for adapting the intermediate support devices 10 to different surfaces. The distance between the wheels 104 may easily be adjusted so that they both provide support at an equal distance from the centre of the base member 101 , so that when the building element has a known position after being rotated 180 degrees.

The extension members 102, 103 are square pipes which fit precisely into the square pipe of the base member 102, 103. The square pipes of the base and extension members are longitudinally locked relatively each other by a lock- ing bolt. When not under load, an extension member may be released and changed to another extension member by removing the locking bolt, sliding the extension member 102, 103 out of the base member 101 and attaching another extension member in its place.

To attach an intermediate support device 10 to a side member 4, 5, the support device 10 is first positioned on the side of the first 4 or second 5 side member with the help of the third 12 and fourth 13 reference means and then secured to the side member 4 or 5, preferably with screws or bolts. The first 102 and second 103 extension members are preferably positioned to provide support on equal distances from the centre of the base member. The centre of the base member is provided with connection means 14 for providing a way of connecting additional devices, such as a hinge device 15 or an anti-twist device 16. The hinge device is designed to provide a rotational axis around which the building element may be rotated. The hinge device 15 is usable for defining a rotational axis 153 around which the building element may easily be rotated to a well defined position. The hinge device 15 may preferably be ver-

tically and horizontally adjustable in order for it to fit with building elements of varying sizes. The hinge device 15 is preferably equipped with hydraulics for easy adjustment, so that it can lift one side of a building 1 element slightly and the lower it again after the building element 1 has been rotated 90 degrees so that it once again comes to rest on a set of side wheels 17 attached to the intermediate guide members. The hinge device 15 preferably comprises a lift unit 151 and a ground unit 152. The ground unit is preferably either directly or indirectly fixed to the ground when the hinge device is in use. If the ground is uneven, it may be preferable to attach the hinge devices 15 to a fixed longitudinal body, such as a beam common of all hinge devices attached to a side member. Doing so ensures that the hinge devices 15 are supported on the same level, thus reducing the risk of damaging the building element 1 during rotation. An anti-twist device 16 is provided for stabilizing the end member 2, 3 to which it is connected and keep the side member 4, 5 from twisting around its longitudinal axis during assembly and handling. The anti-twist device 16 is shown as being attached to the base member 101 but could also be designed for attachment directly to the side member. Side wheels 17 could also be provided for attachment to the base member 101. Side wheels 17 could come in handy for supporting a building element in a position standing on one of its longitudinal sides, such as during storing of a building element 1 or during assembly work on the building element.

Further, a rotation support frame 19 may be provided. The rotation support frame 19 is formed for being placed around the building element 1 to stabilize the building element 1 during rotation, after the end and side members 2, 3, 4, 5 have been attached. The rotation support frame 19 is preferably telescopic so that it can easily be adjusted for building elements 1 of different size. Further, the frame 19 is preferably provided with two rotation means 191 on opposite sides of the frame 19 for enabling easy rotation of said frame 19. The rotation means 191 is preferably arranged for being lifted by two trucks, one on each end of the building element 1. Further, the rotation means 191 is preferably provided with hydraulics for performing the rotational movement in a controlled manner once the building element 1 has been lifted vertically with the help of said trucks.

Further, a method of producing and handling a building element 1 is provided. The method comprises the steps of: a. providing at least the end members 2, 3 with second reference means 18 for horizontal, vertical and angular positioning,

b. positioning a first main support device 8 in a guided position, c. positioning a first end member 2 on the first main support device 8 with first reference means 81 11 , 8112 of the first main support device 8 interacting with corresponding second reference means 18 of the first end member 2 for defining the position and rotation of the first end member 2, d. attaching one or more intermediate support devices 10 to the first and second side members 4 and 5, e. letting the first side member 4 rest on one or more thereto at- tached intermediate support devices 10 while attaching one end of the first side member 4 to a corresponding end of the first end member 2, and letting the second side member 5 rest on the intermediate support devices 10 while attaching one end of the second side member 5 to a corresponding end of the first end member 2, f. positioning a second main support device 9 in a guided position between the side members 4, 5, g. positioning an intermediate member 6 on the second main support device 9 with the second reference means 18 of the intermediate member 6 interacting with corresponding first reference means 811 on the second main support device 9 for mutually defining a position of the intermediate member 6, h. positioning the intermediate member 6 in its correct assembly position with the help of the second main support device, i. attaching the intermediate member 6 to the side members 4, 5, and j. repeating steps g, h and i until all intermediate members 6 are fastened to the side members 4, 5, k. positioning the second end member 3 on the second main support device 9 with the reference means 18 of the second end member 3 interacting with corresponding first reference means 811 on the second main support device 9 for mutually defining a position of the second end member 3,

1. positioning the second end member 3 in its correct assembly position with the help of the second main support device 9, and m. attaching the second end member 3 to the side members 4, 5.

Further, one or more additional anti-twist devices 16 may be used for keeping the side members from twisting and falling over during assembly.

When the building element has been assembled, the element may be rotated with the help of the rotation support frame 19 and/or two or more hinge de- vices 15. The element may be rotated with the help of two trucks lifting the rotation support frame 19, or with the help of the hinges and a truck, an overhead crane or a crane lorry. Often, additional assembly operations, such as adding insulation, adding electrical systems, piping, etc. may be performed more effective if the building element 1 is rotated to be positioned vertically, since ergonomic working positions may be achieved. The building element may supported in a vertical position on side wheels 17 attached to the intermediate support members 10. Further the element may be moved supported on the side wheels 17, such as when moving the building element 1 between working stations. The side wheels 17 may be of swivel caster type and may be locked for steering in the longitudi- nal direction of the side members 4,5 of the building element 1. Further, the side wheels 17 may be adapted for being guided on a track or in a slot. Working stations may be provided along the guided path. The working stations may be equipped with robots performing various assembly tasks, such as adding insulation, drilling holes, nailing, screwing, gluing, etc..