CASE STUDY: HOW TECHINT IS WORKING WITH HYPERION ROBOTICS TO IMPROVE SUSTAINABILITY OF THEIR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

July 6, 2022

Overview

In the past few years, the construction industry has been facing several issues:  low efficiency, rising labor costs, significant environmental impact and worker health and safety. We know that only by addressing these challenges head-on can construction businesses be poised for a breakthrough and unlock their higher growth potential. And TechInt is one of the few companies that turn to us with an aim for that ambitious goal. 

Through a close collaboration with Techint’s engineering team, we devised a strategy to optimize the geometry of trench systems in its energy project and fully automate the manufacturing process while developing a concrete mix from our analysis of locally available materials. 

This approach helped us not only achieve a competitive cost for the full-scale project but also reduce the lead time, simplify logistic process, minimize health and safety risks and environmental impact.  

Challenge

Techint has been facing a number of challenges in their construction projects and processes, from logistics complexities to project delays in initial civil phases, high costs and health and safety risks. At the same time, many of Techint’s projects are extremely challenging because they are built in remote locations, which means setting up entire campsites for construction workers and providing them accommodation, food and transport. Techint, and their clients are also interested in finding a more sustainable alternative to cement based materials and improving their CO2 heavy logistical footprint. Staggering inefficiencies in current concrete construction processes, rising costs, global supply chain uncertainties and major urgency for sustainability are the issues that led Techint to partner up with Hyperion Robotics.

After learning that Hyperion successfully worked with the leader of the energy sector, Iberdrola and other relevant industrial clients, Techint reached out to Hyperion to explore the possibility of deploying Micro-Factories in their industrial construction projects in Latin America. After multiple discussions and demonstrations carried out in our facility in Finland, Techint decided to embark on a large-scale pilot  project with the goal of pursuing a long term collaboration. 

Alejandro Aguirre, Head of Innovation at Techint: “Techint has found in Hyperion highly skilled professionals with the latest know-how in additive manufacturing and material technology. We are working together to speed up the adoption of this technology to start implementing it as soon as possible in our projects”.

Solution

The problem was solved at an experimental stage by manufacturing prototypes at Hyperion’s facilities in Finland. Through a close collaboration with Techint’s engineering team, Hyperion came up with a strategy to optimize the geometry of trench systems used in the client’s energy projects and fully automate the manufacturing process. At the same time, we performed an analysis of locally available materials and developed a concrete mix that could be used at our client’s location, making logistics much more streamlined for their project. 

The project involved process planning, design and engineering, production of trench systems and nodes and full-scale structural testing.

The acceptance phase of the project was structured in three parts.

1. Design and engineering: Together with Techint’s engineers, Hyperion worked to understand the geometrical and structural requirements of the 1.2km trench infrastructure. A 3D model of the optimized elements was then produced and analyzed using Finite Element Modeling.

2. 3D printing and testing of small scale components: A series of small 1-1 scale specimens were printed to understand the most efficient print path and then tested to destruction to provide feedback for structural analysis calculations.

3. 3D printing of the full size trench & connection chamber: A 2.3m long trench and 3-way-connection chamber were printed in Hyperion’s facility to test and demonstrate  the actual elements which would be produced on Techint’s site. These samples were then loaded and tested structurally. Both steel inserts and insulation material were used in the process.

Results

The final outcome of this acceptance project is a blueprint of what Techint will build on site once Hyperion sets up one of its Micro-Factories in Latin America. We were able to demonstrate that the 3D printed concrete trench systems made with our Micro-Factories reached the required compressive, tensile and flexural strengths as required by the client. The highlight of the project was one of the prototypes which was the tallest and heaviest piece of 3DCP ever printed by Hyperion -  2.3 m tall and 2.7 tons of weight.

We also provided a detailed calculation report with all design and engineering details, production process and the estimations for large-scale production which was approved by the client in order to move to the next phase of the project.

Key metrics demonstrated the success the client has enjoyed with Hyperion:

1. Cost was shown to be competitive at the full-scale of the project; 

2. Project lead time was reduced by 50% in Hyperion’s Micro-Factory;

3. Health and safety risks were minimized by reducing labor by 70% by  letting the machines do the hard work;

4. Higher sustainability was achieved thanks to 35% reduction of materials and CO2 emissions and simpler logistics, eliminating the need for a long term campsite with a large number of construction workers;

Lesson learned

This project was very challenging and was an opportunity for Hyperion to develop highly complex and optimized structural toolpaths coupled with state of the art calculations to save material from the concrete elements. In addition, Hyperion had to develop specific quality control technology to enable the production of these large scale 3D printed structures.

Company profile

The Techint Group is one of the largest industrial groups from Latin América, having its Headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina and operations all around the world within Steel Pipe Manufacturing, Flat steel manufacturing, Construction and Energy production among other industries. One of Techint’s companies is Techint Engineering and Construction which focuses on large-scale industrial and infrastructure projects in sectors such as energy, mining and oil and gas.

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