With the growing interest in resilient construction, Richard McCaffrey plans to revolutionize multistory, multidwelling construction. He is employing onsite automation techniques to create a new efficient modular concrete construction method.
A design engineer with more than 30 years of experience in complex civil engineering projects, McCaffrey unveiled his plan and patent-pending technology in February at the Strategic Development Council Forum in Atlanta sponsored by the ACI Foundation. He launched Robotic Construction Automation LLC (RCA) to promote and develop this innovative concept. “The RCA system will reduce construction time and costs, and enable architects to create resilient buildings,” said McCaffrey.
A key element to McCaffrey’s system is the RCA mobile factory. This portable precast plant can be assembled to produce a concrete module for practically any shape and size dwelling space designed by an architect. Each monolithically cast module will consist of the floor slab and the interior loadbearing demising walls for one or more dwelling units. The thickness of the demising walls is selected, along with the concrete strength and reinforcing to provide the capacity needed to support the entire structure. During casting, the electric conduits are embedded within the walls and floor slab. By using formliners, architects can specify the exposed concrete surfaces.
With these self-supporting modules, contractors no longer need shoring, forms, and pumped concrete above the grade floor level. Also eliminated will be the typical drywall demising walls and the associated layout time and electrical rough-in. McCaffrey’s system will also reduce the project’s environmental footprint during construction and throughout the life of the building.
Contractors can outfit each module at ground level with a prefabricated bathroom, kitchen, doors, light fixtures, and materials for final interior decoration. The structure’s exterior walls, interior common areas, and roof systems can be structurally supported by the RCA modules.
Improving the process
The RCA system influences the entire planning, design, and construction process as it improves the security and sustainability of these multistory, multidwelling facilities, while retaining design freedom for the architect. The cost of construction, the project financing cost, and the long-term operating cost of the facility are all reduced by using concrete modules that are robotically cast onsite in a portable factory that can be leased to any contractor.
Another advantage of the RCA system is its compatibility with CAD and BIM. McCaffrey plans to provide a commercially available CAD design software model incorporating the concrete modules as requested by the architect, which can then be shared among the designers. Then the data can also be used in a BIM system to be shared among the contractors, and provided to the owner.
McCaffrey has finalized several important portions of his process. He is networking for strategic partnerships.