Project Update: DACS – Distributed Automated Cutting System

Project Update: DACS – Distributed Automated Cutting System

Project DACS, led by Eurovia UK in partnership with Loop Technology and The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), has been making significant progress towards delivering an innovative automated process for cutting tailor-made paving slabs.

Infrastructure projects that involve laying paved areas such as town centres require paving slabs to be cut, typically on-site, in order to fit around obstructions such as street furniture and kerbs. This process causes widespread disruption due to the noise and mess from cutting and associated road closures. As this is the bottleneck of the operation, DACS has the potential to cut a year-long project by almost a month.

Interested in learning more about the project and its benefits?

Find out more about DACS

What has been achieved so far?

DACS test sandbox - circle 200x200

In our last update, a paving testbed had been laid in the Loop Technology Centre carpark.

It was designed to include features that would be encountered in a real-life paving operation, including lamp posts, drain covers, curves, and a variety of materials and patterns.

This enabled us to evaluate a range of portable measuring equipment and metrology software in order to find the optimal solution; from high-end scanners, to phone and even drone photogrammetry methods.

It was concluded a tablet would be most suitable due to its ability to provide the adequate scan data, coupled with its low cost, portability, ease of use and ruggedness – essential for a construction site.

DACS imaging of sandbox - circle 200x200
DACS scan data2 - circle 200x200

The scan data from the tablet was then manipulated in order to find the paving pattern that had been laid, along with the empty areas which required bespoke paving. This allowed the pattern to be expanded to find the block shapes required to pave the remaining area.

These shapes were then converted into the corresponding cutting paths. The code was sent to the University of Sheffield AMRC to be executed by their demo robot to produce the required paving block in the Loop Technology testbed.

DACS Robotic machining with play button
DACS Cut block in sandbox - circle 200x200

What’s next?

The goal of the project is to allow an operator to scan the paving area and automatically generate the cutting paths required to create the bespoke paving blocks.

Now that the process of acquiring a scan to cut a custom-tailored paving block has been successfully demonstrated, Loop Technology have begun developing the integrated workflow to automate the process.

At Loop Technology, we typically use our vision systems expertise for robot guidance and quality control purposes so it has been an exciting challenge to expand our knowledge by taking it outdoors for a novel application which will improve the wider community.

Do you have a complex problem where 3D imaging could be the solution?

Loop Technology retains Platinum System Partner status with KUKA for 2022

Earlier this month, we were pleased to welcome back Michael Payne, Area Sales Manager – South West, and Tara Baker, Sales Channel Manager UK, from KUKA UK for a visit to our main facility in Dorchester.

After introducing them to Loki and Thor, our resident KUKA Titans, they presented Alun Reece, our Managing Director, and Adam White, our Technical Sales Engineer, with a KUKA Official UK Platinum System Partner 2022/2023 plaque.

It marks the sixth consecutive year of the longstanding, official partnership between Loop Technology and KUKA and we look forward to another great year together.

Thank you for reading. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more, or talk to us about your requirements.

01305 257108

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Loop Technology Ltd.
Loop Technology Centre
Paceycombe Way, Poundbury,
Dorchester, Dorset,

Phone: 01305 257108

Company No. 03498849

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