So... A couple of guys walk into the bar. One of them is a Software Engineer and the other is a Log Builder. They pass a bit of small talk back and forth and discover they have quite a few interests in common.
A couple of beers later the software guy says to the log builder... “I’d like you to meet "Abby".
The log builder looks around expecting to see the guy's girlfriend - instead he sees a big orange robot...
The Ultimate New Tool?
|Dusko Ballmer with "Abby" at Nicola LogWorks|
All of us at Nicola LogWorks have been riding a wave of anticipation as John and Dusko (the software guy), teach "Abby" (a big orange ABB robot how to log build).
Expanding Our Capabilities
We've dubbed this endeavour "TeknowLogia" (Log Homes Re-Imagined), and this venture will add a new product line to our custom handcrafted log and timber homes.
This new and more affordable product line is made possible by incorporating the brain-child of Dusko Ballmer (Ballmer Systems Inc) who has single-mindedly spent the last decade developing a robot assisted system of log building that maintains the natural shape of the logs, and with John's input, faithfully replicates handcrafted joinery.
Thinking out of the Box: Cut by a Machine; Not Machine Cut
Dusko has invented a process that can accommodate the unique characteristics of each log in every building - just like log builders do. This is the opposite approach to that of machine cut "log home" producers who must force natural logs to conform to their machines, thereby sacrificing the aesthetic value of natural logs, not to mention generating an enormous amount of wood waste.
A Patented Process
|We Love Abby|
When John met Dusko about 9 years ago, Dusko already had patented his scanning technology (the key part of the process), and was making significant progress towards proving a robotic production technique that would feature the organic, natural character of the logs. John thought that Dusko's concept was well suited to Piece en Piece log home construction, and was intrigued by the possibilities.
As he worked towards his final iteration, Dusko would, from time to time confer with John for a log builder's input on joinery technique and best practices before going back to the "drawing board".
A Collaboration is Born...
About 8 months ago, John sought Dusko's expertise on an upgrade that John was planning for our
own production equipment. As it happened, Dusko was
ready to move from development to production. All he needed was log building
know-how to implement it...and the idea of a collaboration was born.
|Piece-en-Piece Log Work; Nicola LogWorks|
Five weeks ago, while John poured concrete and upgraded the electrical, Dusko with his two dogs and Brandon (his very talented apprentice), as well as "Abby" and the various parts and pieces that comprise The Ballmer System, crossed the country to Merritt, where Nicola LogWorks is now the proud owner of "Abby" and all of her accessories.
Currently Dusko is setting up his system and implementing his robotic technology while John and team implement the building procedures and establish the quality levels that "Abby" must live up to.
Teaching a Machine to think like a Log Builder
Since we have made this investment our team has grown by 3 and this revolutionary new tool will actually be assisting our team of talented builders. Incorporating the new technology is pretty disruptive, but it is also very stimulating. John says it is forcing all of us to look at everything we do and ask; "Does this add value to the customer? Does it make sense? Does it achieve or can it surpass the quality levels that we aim for?
|Can Abby meet our Standards?|
Our log building team has a wealth of accumulated knowledge and practical skills, and now instead of spending all day running a chainsaw, they can apply their know-how towards further developing and improving the new system while leaving the heavy repetitive work to "Abby".
And that's not a bad thing!
Now on the Canada Day Long Weekend - we are about a week away from cutting our first contract; a piece-en-piece home and garage destined for the UK
There is lots more to tell you - particularly the joint and separate plans that Dusko and John have for Teknowlogia.
Thanks for reading - I'll keep you posted very soon, hopefully with a video showing Abby in action!
The Log Builder's Wife