For the past 45 years, Tedd Benson and his company Bensonwood have been leading the revival of timber frame home building in the United States. Dedicated to finding a better way to build and inspired by the evocative and durable timber homes and barns throughout New England, Benson has spent his career bringing the old craft timber framing into the 20th century with new technology and equipment, and most recently, robotics in construction.
Benson has also spent his career as a forward-looking pragmatist, finding practical implementation of cutting-edge technology for the decades, from building machinery in the 1970s, programming and applying software in the 1980s, to embracing CNC machines in the 1990s.
Watch Tedd Benson of Bensonwood give his presentation at the Robotics in Construction Summit
Bensonwood has developed high-end timber frame projects, mostly traditional-style homes but also modern and commercial structures, in every state throughout the US, as well as in England, Canada, Germany, and Japan. In 2012, Benson spun off a sister company to Bensonwood called Unity Homes, in order to take all the automation, technology, and expertise developed at Bensonwood down into market to build affordable, high-performance homes. All of Unity’s offsite-fabricated homes are net-zero energy ready and use no fossil fuels, relying on air-source heat pumps instead. Benson credits the tightness and efficiency of Bensonwood and Unity’s homes to marrying advances in software with advances in automated production hardware.
Offsite and Automated Homebuilding With Robotics in Construction
In 2018, Bensonwood opened a new automated homebuilding factory in Keane, NH, which utilizes robotics in construction.
When Bensonwood and Unity design a new project, they design a complete BIM model with all building information embedded, “every part and piece, every wire, every pipe, every nail, every bolt.” They then deploy that model to their CNC and other automation equipment, all in the same software. Benson calls this a BPM, or Building Production Model, instead of BIM, as the model is used for all design, engineering, and machine information all in one place.
In 2018, Bensonwood opened a new automated homebuilding factory in Keane, NH. Whereas for the previous 17 years, Bensonwood employed automation mostly for cutting and shaping, the Keane facility builds prefabricated homes in a completely automated process using state-of-the-art robotics from a variety of European firms, including Hundegger, Weinmann, Isocell, Joulin, and Routech.
About this series: In June 2018, Autodesk and MassRobotics (a Boston-based nonprofit innovation hub focused on needs of the robotics community) held the Robotics in Construction Summit at the Autodesk BUILD Space in Boston. We've documented the information and discussions from the summit and packaged them into a Robotics in Construction eBook.