Construction robotics startup Canvas has unveiled a drywall finishing robot.
The company also launched its Innovation Partner Program, a collaborative partnership with six industry-leading contractors that share the company’s vision to “build in bold new ways by putting better tools in the hands of skilled workers”.
Drywall finishing tools have remained unchanged for the better part of a century. With Canvas’s new worker-controlled robotic machine, contractors are able to make drywall finishing safer and more attractive to a shrinking pool of skilled labor, while realizing unmatched metrics for schedule, cost, quality and safety.
With growing demand for the new system, Canvas has qualified a select group of certified partners whose crews will be trained by Canvas to operate the machines independently.
Canvas’s Innovation Partner Program currently includes three leading self-perform general contractors – Webcor, DPR Construction, and Swinerton; and three top interior and exterior wall system contractors – Nevell Group, KHS&S, and Daley’s Drywall & Taping.
All Canvas Innovation Partners are highly technical builders moving the industry forward by embracing innovations that radically improve project outcomes.
They also share Canvas’s belief that strong company culture – one that supports and empowers workers while protecting their safety and well-being – has an equally positive impact on project success.
Jack Poindexter, northwest self-perform work group leader at DPR Construction, says: “We invest heavily in our thousands of craft workers, including our drywall crews.
“We’re excited to partner with Canvas to create a safer work environment for our tradespeople, while providing them with a valuable new technology skill. This collaboration between workers and intelligent machines can infuse new energy into the trade.”
The Canvas system automates two of the toughest parts of the drywall finishing process: mudding and sanding. After completing training, Canvas Certified Finishers can complete a project in less time, while producing predictably high-quality finishes.
More importantly, the machine minimizes and sometimes even eliminates the harsh working conditions that deter new workers from pursuing the trade and can cause others to leave the industry early.
Canvas says its system improves worker air quality by “capturing 99.9 percent of the dust produced in the sanding phase, eliminates messes, eliminates musculoskeletal injuries by taking on the heavy lifting of machine sanding”.
It adds that the system greatly reduces the opportunity for falls by enabling workers to tackle riskier elevated work from ground level.
Kevin Albert, Canvas CEO, says: “The Canvas Innovation Partner Program enables select partners to train on Canvas machines so they can participate directly in creating better outcomes for workers and their projects.”
He adds that the partners will receive priority access to Canvas machines. To date, Canvas and its Strategic Partners have worked together on projects all over the Bay Area and are planning to expand to southern California in the coming months.
Albert says: “Before we ever worked on a job, one of our main objectives was building a machine worthy of putting in workers’ hands.
“I’m proud that the jobs we have done demonstrate how Canvas makes life better for drywall finishers and sets new benchmarks for efficiency on our customers’ landmark projects.
“Most importantly, I’m thrilled that this dramatically expands the workers training on and using our machines.”
Chris Taylor, Nevell Group COO, says: “While software has provided great improvements to construction project management, many construction processes – including drywall finishing – haven’t experienced game-changing innovation until now.
“NGi’s strategic partnership with Canvas aligns with our mission to continually demonstrate breakthrough, customer-focused innovation, while creating more attractive jobs for our employees and potential employees.”
The construction industry has experienced considerable headwinds for many years, which have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most significant is the tension between our current growing building needs and a chronic labor shortage.
The Canvas system addresses these key challenges, making the trade more attractive for young people to enter and ensuring that current tradespeople can work longer, better and more productively, all while offering contractors tighter control over schedules and cost, and delivering a consistently high-quality product.
Canvas was founded in 2017 by leading roboticists who teamed with longtime construction experts to pioneer a bold new way to build, starting with drywall finishing.
The team spent three years continuously improving the product and building out its patent portfolio before launching publicly in November 2020.
Canvas says its machines, in the hands of skilled workers, make drywall finishing “safer, higher quality, and more predictable so jobs stay on schedule and within budget”.