Discover How IKEA Uses Robots for Prefab Affordable Housing

BloKlok is a joint venture between Swedish development company, Skanska and IKEA. To date it has produced 14000 affordable houses throughout Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the UK

Thu 15 Jun 23


Imagine visiting IKEA and a Saturday Afternoon and picking up a bookcase, a bedside table, and a flatpack house!

Thanks to BoKlok, which translates to ‘Live Smart’, customers in Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the UK now have a no-hassle way to buy low-cost and quality housing.

On Wednesday, the Australian delegates on the WoodSolutions and TDA Study Tour visited the BoKlok manufacturing facility in Växjö.

Australian delegates from the WoodSolutions and TDA Study Tour visiting the BoKlok manufacturing facility in Växjö, Sweden.

BoKlok is the result of a joint effort between IKEA and a Swedish development company, Skanska.

To date, it has built over 14,000 houses throughout Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the UK, with aspirations for further growth.

Footage courtesy of @boklokab
Zero-Labour Robots are used to reduce cost and maximise efficiencies

According to Andrew Dunn, CEO of the Australian-based Timber Development Association, the facility uses zero-labour robots to assemble floor panels into place.

“It is clear where the world is going in manufacturing, and the tour saw a glimpse of it.” Mr Dunn said.

“Amazingly, not a single Allen key was to be seen.”

“Unlike most IKEA furniture, the apartments come pre-assembled, probably a huge relief for purchasers.”

The robots used in the manufacturing plant are designed, manufactured, and supplied by Randek Robotics.

The Randek Zero Labor Robotic System is a fully automated robotic system that can automatically perform various work processes.

In the past, the robots main task was producing walls, floors, and roofs.

Recently showcased at LIGNA 2023, the upgraded robots can fulfill additional tasks, including the insulation of wall and roof elements for prefabricated house construction to be carried out fully automatically.

Footage courtesy of @RANDEKcom
Less than 1% of the leftover materials ends up in waste

According to BoKlok’s Head of Sustainability, Jenny Adholm, 70% of timber used in the plant is sourced from Swedish forests – with all housing carrying full PEFC and / or FSC chain of custody certification.

This means all housing sold at IKEA stores carries the PEFC or FSC certification mark.

The manufacturing facility claims to have a carbon footprint of less than half of other building projects, recycling “most of [the] leftover materials” and disposing less than 1% of waste.

In addition, BoKlok focuses on seven areas of focus as described by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), including good health and well-being (SDG 3), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), and responsible climate action (SDG 13).

BoKlok homes are prefabricated, stick-frame houses

BoKlok has built communities consisting of between 40 and 200 prefab homes – including the Vaxjo Kyntte estate – featuring high ceilings and large windows.

“Yesterday, we visited the Kyntte estate where an Australian flag greeted us,” Mr Dunn said. “The estate was a mixture of off-site manufactured houses and apartments nearing completion.”

“The visit was an important stepping stone, ahead of our visit to the manufacturing facility.”

On Tuesday, the 13th of June 2023, the Australian delegates visited the Vaxjo Kyntte estate which provided important context to their visit. (Photo credit: BoKlok estate)

The houses feature open, yet space-saving, floor plans that encourage adequate storage for life’s necessities.

The kitchens and baths are, of course, outfitted with IKEA cabinets and fixtures.

The designs and materials used in construction have been developed to build an energy-efficient and sustainable home.

On Thursday, the study tour will visit the Randek Robotics Centre where Christian Olofsson will provide the delegation with a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities and a look at the robots in action.

More information about the Study Tour

Participants in the WoodSolutions and Timber Development Association are touring the ‘world’s best’ timber technology in Sweden and Norway.

The mission, from June 11 to 17, has been supported by architects, engineers, developers, and building professionals who will visit timber projects and fabrication and manufacturing facilities.

A group shot of the Australian delegation to Sweden and Norway. (Photo credit: Clarissa Brandt from Timber Queensland)

The tour leads to the World Conference of Timber Engineering in Oso, Norway, from June 19 to 22.

Sweden has emerged as the global leader in offsite manufacturing.

In November 2020, Built Offsite covered the rise of Sweden as the home of prefab.

“Prefabrication means that within a couple of days, we have everything assembled and protected under the roof of the building.”

“Since windows and outer doors are mounted in the factory, the house is rapidly weather protected and secured from uninvited visitors.”

“A prefabricated house can be very flexible. Everything you can build is possible in prefab, and consumers in Sweden are aware of that,” according to Leif Litzell Leif Litzell from VästkustStugan AB.

To date, more than 80% of the Swedish housing market uses paneled single-dwelling residencies.


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